WILKES-BARRE — The Wandering Chef food truck has served Northeastern Pennsylvania patrons at events like Party on the Patio and The Riverfront Food Truck Rally, but as its name suggests it would some day do, The Wandering Chef is wandering on.
The truck is making the trek to Tallahassee, Fla., where it will serve the students of Florida A&M University. Dallas-based Metz Culinary Management, owners of The Wandering Chef, also provide culinary services to a number of school districts, health care facilities and places of higher education, including Florida A&M. According to Metz Culinary Management Executive Vice President of Merchandising Maureen Metz, the decision was a combination of climate and customer base.
“The college market is the market for food trucks. Even when we were here in Wilkes-Barre, we seemed to try and stay around Wilkes and King’s and the University of Scranton,” Metz said. “Because of the size and the location being beautiful and sunny most of the time, we thought that this was the ideal location for ‘The Chef.’”
After helping draw plans for The Wandering Chef on a piece of paper, general manager Mike Raub said he’ll help The Wandering Chef transition to its new home after helping to grow the brand in his native NEPA — and after hosting a summer’s worth of private appearances and catered events for the award-winning truck.
“Any time anyone with our company runs a piece of business, we run it as if it were our own. But no matter what, it does belong to the company,” Raub said. “We work for a great company and that’s part of the fun of it; it makes it easier. I’m actually thrilled it’s going to Florida because I know it’s going to do really well there. To say I had a role in developing it and bringing it into reality is exciting for me.”
Raub said he’ll miss his favorite menu item, the short-lived Rocky Balboa Burger (sausage burger with roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese). But according to Metz, there’s one Wandering Chef item that may find its way back onto a Metz property’s menu — possibly Lucky’s Sports Bar or Metz’s stand at Misericordia University.
“Everyone loved the fries, including myself,” Metz said. “We are working at trying to get them to other locations. We do have kind of a concession stand at Misericordia that goes out for the football games. We thought we might be able to try and incorporate some of those (at the stand), but there’s nothing at the moment. We’re definitely looking into it because we know the popularity of the fries.”
Metz said there aren’t plans to introduce another food truck into the local market, but “nothing’s ever out of the question.” For now, the NEPA food truck community has lost an active member that was integral in organizing the 2015 and 2016 Riverfront Food Truck Rally events.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts.