By Whitney Browneller, Staff Reporter
The Street Food Institute (SFI) has partnered with CNM and RFK charter school to offer duel credit classes to high school students who are interested in the entrepreneurial food service industry, said lead instructor and chef of the SFI, Julian Griego.
Students and community members will get the opportunity to learn about the food service industry and what it takes to start a successful small business, he said.
“It’s been a pretty exciting semester to be able to offer the duel credit class here,” he said.
The program offers different types of business training but the primary focus is on mobile food service which is the food truck industry, Griego said.
Market vending is another type of business training that is offered through the program, the class goal is to help students sell their food products at local farmer’s markets or the rail yard markets, Griego said.
Catering and wholesale business trainings are also part of the business training that can be offered to students who are interested in either catering at various events or to those who want to have their food products packaged for wholesale distribution, he said.
SFI is an entrepreneur-focused culinary program dedicated to inspiring the success of small, local businesses in New Mexico. SFI supports the development of small business by growing the state’s local food economy and developing strong future business leaders. SFI trains its emerging business leaders to employ sustainable business practices that support local farmers, entrepreneurs, and families.
SFI partnered with CNM almost three years ago to offer bilingual classes to students and community members who were interested in the food service and entrepreneurial industry, he said.
The first year of the partnership the program only had one food truck and the classes were only available at CNM, he said.
The SFI then partnered with Southwest Educational Partners for Training to develop a program that would allow community members to have access to the program.
“We wanted to be able to reach low income communities as well as bilingual and immigrant populations,” Griego said.
All the classes offered through the SFI are taught in both English and Spanish.
The classes with the program are offered at the South Valley Economic Development Center (SVEC) which is located at 318 Isleta Blvd SW, in Albuquerque and even thought this is the central location for the duel credit program the classes that are offered are opened to all students, he said.
“The idea is that if there is a student who wants to start a food service business like a food truck then they can come and take these four classes at the SVEC and will have most of the knowledge they need to start their own business,” he said.
In addition to that, students can then transfer to CNM main campus to finish their culinary arts degree if that is what they want to do, he said.
Students will be taught everything from how to properly hold a knife and proper sanitization to business planning and recipe tests, he said.
The SVEC is part of CNM and their mission is to provide resources for economic development for small businesses’ growth to help build the local economy, he said.
“There is a kitchen at the SVEC that we call the mixing bowl and it is a community kitchen that also acts like a food service business hub so the community can come in and become a member of this kitchen to start the process of starting their businesses,” Griego said.
The program is four courses, which is one semester, and the classes are generally offered in the evening times so that students who work or attend other classes in the morning and afternoon can make it, he said.
Students follow the exact same process for enrolling in these classes as they would with any other CNM class, he said.
“You gain the theory, knowledge, and the real life experience of this extremely popular industry,” he said.
Students have the opportunity to work on the SFI Food Truck and get real life experience in what it means to run, work, and operate a food truck, he said.
At the end of the program there is an internship that is offered to students that will help them to build their resume by actually receiving work experience
“The classes cover every topic from a business plan to an operational plan to get your health permit, financing, funding the business, the food product and how it works out in the market, and we talk about marketing, cost analysis and finances,” he said.
The mobile food operations course is focused primarily on food trucks, so in that students develop the operational plan for their permit, he said.
“In the course they will develop their own food items and do recipe tests every few weeks where they bring in their ideas for their food concept and we test their items and taste them to critique them and talk about the cost analysis behind the recipes,” Griego said.
SFI Students taking the course, Monica Gutierrez and Adrian Baca, said they originally took the courses for something to do together as a couple but they are now thinking of opening a small family business that will probably feature a New Mexican fusion cuisine.
Another SFI student, Elfigo Castillo said that he has been working on his food truck concept for a while and when he was recently laid off work, his wife informed him of the courses at CNM and he decided to enroll.
“This is like a blessing that fell in my lap,” Castillo said.
Castillo said that along with being enrolled in the classes there is free help from the small business bureau on getting a plan and funding for a business.
“This program has really been a confidence booster,” he said.
For students who are less interested in starting a food truck, CNM also offers a retail baking operations course and a catering course, Griego said.
“These business topics apply to all types of business,” Griego said.
If students or community members are interested in the food service industry but have no experience they can take entry level courses that will teach the basics to cooking, Griego said.
Currently students are offered a certificate from the SFI after they finish the four course program but they are working with CNM to hopefully offer a certificate from the CNM culinary department in the future.
For more information about the classes offered please set up an appointment with an academic advisor by calling (505) 224-4355.
Link to SFI webpage: http://www.streetfoodinstitute.org/
Link to the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/streetfoodinstitute/