Photos and Story
By Mark Graven
The Street Food Institute, in partnership with CNM, has been able to keep its food trucks rolling during the covid challenge, according to its executive director, Tina Garcia-Shams.
Many area restaurants have been able to keep going by providing take out, or curbside service, but food trucks are naturally made for take-out, said Garcia-Shams.
“You can just take the food, and eat it. You don’t have to be sitting down,” she said.
Tacos are always on the menu, she said, adding that Executive Chef David Sellers dips into a wide variety of menu items from pizza, to Asian-fusion, or southern-style cooking. Recently, oyster po’ boys, from Louisiana were featured, she said.
Sellers will often incorporate ideas from CNM Culinary students when putting together menus. It gives the students a real-world reality check on their culinary thinking, Garcia-Shams said.
One student came up with the idea of serving “nachos from around the world,” which went over well, she said.
Students participate as part of the Culinary Arts curriculum, or in an entrepreneur’s lab. Internships are available and members from the community at large also have opportunities to participate, Garcia-Shams said.
The Street Food Institute has three trucks in operation, two of which are on loan from Bernalillo County, she said.
In covid times they are still serving at their regular locations, such as UNM Hospital, Hyder Park, and the Marble Heights Brewery, she said.
Normally the Institute would be running the cafeteria at the CNM Student Services Center, but the cafeteria has been closed, along with the rest of the campus during the pandemic, Garcia-Shams said.
About the only thing different for the food trucks during the pandemics is the wearing of masks inside the trucks, she said.
The trucks follow the same health department guideline as regular restaurants, and are subject to health department inspections, just like the restaurants, she said.
Garcia-Shams said she was with the Street Food program when it launched in 2014 and began serving as executive director when it spun off from the Simon Charitable Foundation out of Santa Fe, and became a non- profit in 2016 and now works in partnership with CNM.
Garcia-Shams said she herself is not much of cook. She leaves that to Sellers and his crew.
“What I want out of a food truck is a good sandwich,” she said, and with the Street Food Institute continuing to roll, she invariably gets it.