July 18, 2016—Olympia, Wash. Two students from South Puget Sound Community College’s Culinary Arts program have been selected to lead a mobile kitchen as it travels around the U.S. this summer. Students Taja Melton and Kevin McDonald are heading up the food truck in a 10,000 mile, 20-state tour, following the Seattle Cascades Drum Corps as they perform and compete around the country.
The Seattle Cascades, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has nearly 200 musical athletes who each burn about 6500 calories per day. Melton and McDonald are in charge of keeping the group energized and satisfied with four meals a day. Serving 800 plates daily at roughly $1.20 per plate, Melton and McDonald are challenged with handling all aspects of mobile catering, including nutritional meal planning, food purchasing, managing the budget, serving, and cleaning.
Just a few weeks into the internship, the two students have already impressed members of the Seattle Cascades. SPSCC staff member and Seattle Cascades volunteer Patrick Yates stated, “My supervisor was so impressed by the food they made that he has been bragging to food truck members of other drum corps around the nation.” Yates added, “I can say that Taja and Kevin have indeed brought their skills to the Cascades kitchen and the members have noticed.”
The unique food truck, once a 50-foot moving truck that was transformed into a kitchen in the early 1990s, has three prep stations, a freezer and fridge, large convection ovens, a gas range, and a gas griddle. The unusual food service environment adds further challenge to the summer that lies ahead of Melton and McDonald.
In past years, Seattle Cascades has depended on volunteers to staff the food truck. This is the first year that an internship opportunity has been available. The internship is a paid, for-credit opportunity for SPSCC Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts students interested in entering mobile catering. There is no doubt that Melton and McDonald will wrap up the internship with stronger skills in leadership and time management—and with a new outlook on a future in mobile catering.