New Haven Register
Yale students launched a website devoted to New Haven food trucks, and offered some of the trucks’ food at an event at New Haven Free Public Library recently. Mara Lavitt — New Haven Register
By Jim Shelton, New Haven Register
New Haven >> For Yale senior Emily Ullmann, this has been a semester of food truckology.
It included scholarly jaunts for cupcakes, academic forays for pork sandwiches and study sessions filled with tacos, ribs and cannoli.
“We were looking for a project we could really get involved in but also get people of New Haven involved in,” said Ullmann, one of a dozen Yale students in Ryan Andre Brasseaux’s “Introduction to Public Humanities” course.
The class just launched its big, public project: a website,www.newhavenfoodroutes.com, that tells the stories of local food trucks and helps users locate them around the city. Dozens of well-wishers showed up at the New Haven Free Public Library to see the website and partake of various food items featured on the trucks.
“The idea is to take academic discourse and bring it to something that goes on outside the classroom,” said Brasseaux, above the din of dining.
The class focused on six trucks: Ay! Arepa, The Cannoli Truck, Joe Grate’s Barbeque, Peking Edo, Ricky D’s Rib Shack and Sugar Cupcakes.
“We went to the city and got a list of permittees,” Brasseaux explained. “We sort of followed the students’ palates.”
“There are so many motivations for starting a food truck, so many stories,” said Sarah Torgeson, a senior. “I worked with The Cannoli Truck. They donate part of their proceeds to the Smilow Cancer Hospital.”
Ricky Evans, who runs Ricky D’s Rib Shack, said the Yale project couldn’t have come at a better time. After moving north from Virginia in 2008 to work in a corporate setting, he decided to try his hand at food service just this year. He’s had his food truck for six months and was happy for the attention from students.
“Someone wants to interview me, I’m all for it,” Evans said. “This is great. I’m enjoying it.”
“Most of my customers are Yale students,” Garcia said. He has three food trucks in operation, including one at York and Elm streets and one near the Yale School of Medicine.
Brasseaux said the class purchased the domain for the Food Routes website, did all the web design and conducted the interviews found on the site. “We wanted this to be out in the world, on its own,” he said.
From a humanities perspective, food trucks were a meaty topic to explore, according to Ullmann. Many people are aware of New Haven’s culinary prowess with pizza and burgers, but they don’t necessarily know that food trucks are taking the city by storm.
“They’ve become a new tradition,” Ullmann said. “There are so many options. We could have done an entire website of taco trucks.”
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