GTCC Mobile Catering and Food Truck Management Program Receives National Award for Entrepreneurship

Published on: June 21, 2019
Chef LJ Rush works alongside students in GTCC’s mobile catering learning lab, the Green Machine. Rush and the college's Mobile Catering and Food Truck program received the 2019 Brightwater Food Entrepreneurship Award from the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education.

JAMESTOWN, N.C. – Guilford Technical Community College’s Mobile Catering and Food Truck Management program has been honored by the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFE) with the 2019 Brightwater Food Entrepreneurship Award. The national award was presented to GTCC Culinary and Hospitality Instructor and Program Director LJ Rush during the CAFE 15th Annual Leadership Conference June 20 at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Brightwater Entrepreneurship Award identifies culinary programs that teach or encourage entrepreneurship in their programming or implement revenue-generation and cost-savings into their operations. Programs are judged in the areas of quality of design, applicability, replicability, stewardship, success in the implementation of the project or concept, impact upon the college and community, and thoughtful innovation in practice and technique.

GTCC received the honor based on the idea and execution of the college’s Mobile Catering and Food Truck program, which remains one of the only food truck diploma programs in the country. Chef LJ Rush directs the program and was charged with executing it from the ground up. It was a steep learning curve that he conquered by applying more than three decades of culinary experience into a new, innovative program.

“He is extremely knowledgeable about the subject. He not only understands the type of food but the actual running of the truck” says Albert Schmid, Director of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management at GTCC. “He has done a fantastic job. If it weren’t for LJ, the food truck program wouldn’t be where it’s at today.” 

GTCC launched the Mobile Catering and Food Truck program in 2017. The 42-credit program is designed to help students navigate the rules and regulations for food trucks and offers a faster track for students who want to get into the food industry. By the time students earn their diplomas, they have tested their recipes and have the marketing and business skills needed to own and operate a food truck.

“We are focused on teaching and educating people about the food truck business. It’s a great outlet for culinary students at GTCC,” shared Rush. “We want to help them flourish and get their businesses off the ground.”

The program takes a year and a half to complete and complements the culinary curriculum already in place at GTCC. The inaugural class earned their diplomas in May 2019.

“It is great to be recognized for this award. I couldn’t do it without the school. It was a team effort,” added Rush. “Sometimes it doesn’t matter what a person has done in their career. There is always an opportunity to learn how to do it better.”

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