Lauren is known among students for working at the Wandering Chef food cart. Located every day outside of Purnell Hall on Amstel Avenue, the cart offers foods of many different styles and is very popular among students leaving their classes and getting a bite to eat. The Black Sheep asked her some questions in between customers to get to know a little more about her and her business.
TBS: There are a lot of food carts around UD’s campus. Did you start this trend or did you follow it?
Lauren: When we started this, we were the first cart out here and we did it through a pilot program at UD. My husband is a chef who works with fusion foods at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). We’ve been here on campus for about 5 years.
TBS: Do you do anything outside of working this cart?
Lauren: Nope, this is it. We do sometimes do off-premise catering for private weddings, meetings, and some rush events.
TBS: What is your personal favorite food from this particular cart?
Lauren: Of everything I serve, I truly love the grilled fish over fried rice with fusion sauces.
TBS: Do you ever people-watch while you’re working? If so, what are some of the craziest things you’ve seen?
Lauren: Oh yes absolutely; on Thursday and Friday afternoons we do see some crazy outfits. We’ve even seen people pass out drunk on the sidewalk at 10:30 in the morning!
TBS: What is one of the most interesting conversations you’ve had with a customer?
Lauren: I’ve talked to a student about sex education. And Kirkbride Jesus stopped by once! We didn’t talk about much, but he was nice.
TBS: Can you tell the difference between freshmen and upperclassmen? If so, how?
Lauren: Yes, they have that air about them. Sometimes a lost puppy dog look.
TBS: What is your favorite part about working on a college campus?
Lauren: Oh, definitely the interaction with students and faculty, and the great conversations we have with them.
TBS: What is one of the most frustrating things you’ve had to deal with when working the cart?
Lauren: We’ve had tortillas (5 whole packs of them) fly off the back of the truck. Also, just dropping stew and some of the main entrees.
TBS: Have you ever “betrayed” this cart and purchased food from one of the other carts on campus? If so, how was it?
Lauren: Oh all the time; the gyro cart is right next to us! We patronize each other. They make great food.
TBS: What do you think makes this cart special or sets it apart from the others?
Lauren: Our dumplings… those and our dumpling burritos, Ryan [student who works at the cart] and our quickness. It usually takes around 45 seconds per person.”
TBS: How do you deal with the weather? Have you ever had to close because of it?
Lauren: Late in the day if there’s thunder and lightning we have to close because it’s a steel cart that’s not enclosed. It’s more of a safety thing. We’ve also closed because of hail. I got frostbite last year on my toes from standing out in the cold!
TBS: Do you use “secret recipes” for certain items on the menu? If so, how secret are they?
Lauren: Almost every one is secret, and it’s very guarded. Only three people know the details. All of our sauces are 100% homemade.