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University Chefs Converge on UCSB for Cooking Conference

Chefs learn about nontraditional kitchen solutions and participate in a competition during the three-day Chef Net event

More than 40 university chefs gathered at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday to learn about ways to continue cooking during kitchen renovations or disasters.

Mobile box trailers, food trucks and shipping containers were among options presented by an expert on the second day of the three-day Chef Net conference, most of which was hosted at the university.

Dozens of West Coast chefs in traditional white uniforms gathered for a morning presentation at the Loma Pelona Center to talk nontraditional kitchen solutions.

Listening was important, too, since the conference, which ended Thursday, also involved a tour of concessions near UCSB’s Harder Stadium and a full-blown group competition where chefs prepared food inside the concession trailer for select students and staff.

The National Association of College & University Food Services organized the Chef Net conference, focusing on best practices and food sustainability. The organization, founded in 1958 to support the college and university foodservice industry, boasts members from 550 higher education institutions across the United States and Canada and nearly 500 industry members from the food, equipment and consulting market segments.

The second category was where Ralph Goldbeck, owner of Kitchens To Go, came in.

“Mobile kitchens are not new,” Goldbeck said. “We do this kind of work all around the country.”

He pointed to examples at Harvard University, where an interim dining commons and trailer module were built in a dean’s Boston backyard to serve students.

At California State University-Long Beach, Kitchens To Go built a temporary module while a dining hall was being renovated.

Even UCSB embraced a 46-foot kitchen mobile trailer for Harder Stadium concessions.

“Everybody talks about food trucks nowadays,” Goldbeck said, but added that the trend would likely fade away soon.

Food trucks picked up steam starting in 1965, he said, when a Cater Truck traveled between work sites selling food.

Outsourcing catering, phasing construction or kitchen shutdown were alternatives to temporary mobility.

Chefs asked about the structure of Goldbeck’s company, which has offices in Fresno, before heading out to put some of the knowledge to work in the subsequent competition.  

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Dozens of chefs from different universities came to UCSB this week for a Chef Net conference. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

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