Rollin, Rollin, Rollin, Food Trucks Keep On Rollin

Photos and Story

By Mark Graven

Staff Reporter

Tina Garcia-Shams, executive director, and David Sellers, executive chef, of the Street Food Institute at CNM, check out the food truck menu.

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. 

Two of the three operational Street Food Institute trucks normally staffed by CNM students

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.  

A New Cup Of Coffee On Campus

February 16, 2017.  Photos and Story by Wade Faast

The beginning of spring term 2017 brought with it a new coffee truck, Loretta’s Lattes.

Loretta’s Lattes serves specialty coffee drinks and hot waffles from a pink food cart at CNM main campus, owner Tanya Herrera said.

When the weather gets warmer they serve homemade ice cream and snow cones, she said.

Herrera and her partner Bernadette Chavarria opened their mobile espresso shop in October 2015 she said.

Their first day out was discouraging; they started at the Coronado Mall Park and Ride for Balloon Fiesta and didn’t sell a single drink she said.

The heart of a good coffee drink is the espresso shots.  Loretta’s Lattes offers two types of beans, a fresh home roasted bean from Smokin’ Beans or an extreme kick from Death Wish beans that have as much as three times the caffeine of regular coffee.

“It’s a lot of very hard work, heart break and putting yourself out there” Herrera said.

Operating on Wednesdays and Fridays and arriving at 6:30am she is staying busy going through as much as four pound of coffee a day at CNM she said.

The most popular drinks for CNM students have caramel, caramel lattes or caramel frappes, she said.

“People here are obsessed with their caramel” she said.

Gaining popularity are the drinks she makes with Death Wish beans, a coffee bean that offers as much as three times the caffeine of regular coffee, Herrera said.

Loretta’s Lattes offers a wide variety of flavors and drinks, if it’s not on the menu just ask, and if they don’t have everything to make it, Herrera will get whatever is required, she said.

The “Marie” is a blueberry white chocolate mocha that Herrera whipped up when a customer asked if she had blueberry drinks, she said.

CNM student Marie Robinson makes sure to leave home with enough time to stop and grab a coffee from Loretta’s Lattes, Robinson said.
The coffee beans are sourced from Smokin’ Beans unroasted and she roasts them herself so they are fresh and full of flavor, Herrera said.

The cost for having a food truck at CNM is very affordable at only $35 a semester, compared to some places that charge upwards of $100 a day, she said.

You can find Loretta’s Lattes around town at events and static locations including high schools and the upcoming Food Truck Festival of America, she said.

Marie Robinson (right), a regular customer of Loretta’s has a drink named after her, the “Marie.”  Robinson stopped by one day and asked if Herrera (left) could make her a drink with blueberry in it, Robinson said.  Herrera didn’t have all the ingredients on hand that day, so she went out and bought them and now anyone can order the “Marie” a blueberry white chocolate Mocha.

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A Bite of The Big Apple at CNM

Story and Photos by Wade Faast

Staff Reporter

Michael Fichera, owner of Hotdog Heaven serves New York inspired hotdogs on the CNM Main Campus Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Fichera offers fresh made hot dogs and nachos every day and regularly offers specials like Italian sausage with peppers, onions heros and meatball heros, he said.

Surgery Technologist student Kristi Brooks has been getting a hot dog a week for the past three weeks from Hotdog Heaven, she said.

Brooks said her hot dog of choice is the New York Dog, a hotdog served with spicy mustard, sauerkraut, and red onions.

“The food is great, and it’s a fun place to spend sometime between classes,” Brooks said.

Fichera has been bringing his food cart to CNM since April 2016 and regularly serves 50-75 hotdogs a day, he said.

According to Fichera, he stumbled into the hot dog vending market.

He was meeting with a client for his other business when he noticed a hot dog cart that was not being used, and bought it, he said.

Growing up in New Jersey and making frequent trips to New York City, Fichera said he regularly ate at hotdog carts and knew he could bring the same flavors to New Mexico.

Starting with genuine New York Sabrett hot dogs he builds a hotdog that would be home on any New York street corner, he said.

The red onions found in Fichera’s cart are not store bought or mass produced, they are cooked following a family recipe, he said.

Fichera also sells his hotdogs on Saturdays at the New Mexico Soccer Tournament Complex, he said.

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Cheap meals on wheels; New food truck class brings fresh food to campus

By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor | Photo by Jonathan Baca


Some Culinary Arts students are getting out of the classroom and into the new food truck, serv­ing up fresh homemade soups and sandwiches to Main Campus students and beyond.

The Street Food Institute Food Truck is the product of a new partner­ship that provides students with credits toward their degrees, along with some real world experience in the challenges of running a restaurant on wheels.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the food truck will be parked on Main campus, in the parking lot just south of Smith Brasher Hall, and students are already enjoying the new dining option.

All CNM students receive a 25 percent dis­count, and just have to show their student ID’s.

Computer Informations Technology major, James Brice said “The Cubano sand­wich is great; I’ve already had it twice. It’s just nice to have another thing to eat besides the cafeteria food.”

David Sellers, who is an Executive Chef and Program Director for the Street Food Institute, a part of the Simon Charitable Foundation, said his goal is to train young chefs to be future entrepreneurs and small business owners, also to have students help boost the local economy.

“I wanted it to be really simple. Great quality food but in simple sandwich form using really good ingredients, and we’ve had great reviews so far,” Sellers said.

The food truck itself is the hands-on portion of a new Culinary Arts class, Mobile Food Operations, where students learn the basics of running a food truck, including the cre­ation of a menu, food costs, preparation and service, as well as setting up and tearing down the truck, Sellers said.

The new class is a pilot course being offered for three semesters, with the ultimate goal of creating a three-term food truck certification pro­gram, Sellers said.

Culinary Arts major, Jake Morgan said he was excited to be one of the first eight students to take the new course.

“I was really interested in it because I want to run a food truck. You don’t have as much overhead or costs at the beginning. I mean you are only paying for a truck, not a brick and mortar building,” Morgan said.

Morgan said that he would enjoy creating a unique concept for the truck, because one of the greatest advantages of having a food truck is the ease that one can change the menu and style of the cuisine, due to the low overhead and versatility of a mobile restaurant.

Another advantage that working in a food truck offers over a traditional kitchen job in a restaurant is the personal, face-to-face interactions that they get to have with their cus­tomers, Morgan said.

“You get to relate with people immediately. You can usually tell right away if some­one is disappointed with what they got or not,” Morgan said.

The initial menu was designed by Sellers, and includes turkey, barbeque pork, grilled cheese and Cuban sandwiches, as well as several soups and side dishes, which are all made from scratch, and with a student discount makes these dishes a steal, Sellers said.

“It is already reason­ably priced, so a 25 percent discount is quite cheap actually, especially for the quality,” Sellers said.

Sellers said he strives to use as many local ingre­dients as possible, includ­ing produce from Green Tractor and Romero Farms, and that he is working on creating a long-term part­nership with Agricultura, a local student-run farm­ing project.

Culinary Arts major, Sara Green does not work in the truck, but takes the partner class, where she helps prep food for the day.

Green said she thinks the thing that makes the food truck a better alter­native for students is the fresher, homemade ingre­dients that students get to serve there.

“I think the truck is a good option for students to go to. I know for most students, they don’t like to necessarily eat the other food that is offered on campus, and at the truck we make most of the stuff basically from scratch,” Green said.

Much of the menu is handmade and fresh, including the salads, the sandwich spreads, lem­onade, and their unique spiced parsnip potato chips, she said.

The food truck stu­dents even make their own pickles and spice, and roast the turkey that they use on sandwiches, which all contributes to a more flavorful, enjoyable eating experience, she said.

“I think it’s the food that makes it. Once people try it and like the food, they are going to come back,” Green said.

Culinary Arts major, Erik Newlander who has worked as a sushi chef, said he signed up for the class because he has dreams of someday starting a food truck that sells sushi.

Newlander said that the team has gotten a lot of positive feedback, and that the truck has had a very solid opening with few problems.

“The menu is going pretty good, people really seem to like everything on there,” Newlander said.

While the first menu concept was created by Sellers, he said that once the class is out of the pilot phase, the plan is for students to help create an entire concept from the ground up, creat­ing a menu, sourcing and buying ingredients, and managing the operation of the truck themselves.

“That’s when you throw the ball into their court and see what they can come up with. It’s a great sort of multi-faceted program,” Sellers said.

Sellers said he is excited about the future potential for the Street Food Institute, as food trucks are becoming more popular in Albuquerque.

“I think right now we’re kind of hitting it at the perfect timing. The scene is just really starting here, so it’s a great oppor­tunity for people to start something,” he said.