New kosher food truck rolls onto campus

Josh Hamburger

Junior Zack Freeling is bringing new food options to Vanderbilt’s campus through his own food truck: Aryeh’s Kitchen. This truck features American-style food like burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads and even matzo ball soup. The menu is specifically geared towards the meat-loving college student, and as an added bonus all of the food is kosher.

How it started

Freeling, a human and organizational development major with a corporate strategy minor, teamed up with Rabbi Shlomo Rothstein, Rabbi of the Chabad House, to create the ideal food truck for students on campus.

“For a long time I have had a passion for food, ever since I was growing up,” Freeling explained. “I always wanted to start my own business and actually see one of my ideas materialize … I never really wanted to go the conventional route, going for a corporate company and sitting behind a desk, that just wasn’t for me. This market niche presented an opportunity to put that entrepreneurial energy and my creative nature into a project that serves a purpose: bringing kosher meat to Nashville.”

When Freeling approached Rabbi Shlomo about this project, Rabbi Shlomo was thrilled at the prospect of finally having kosher meat on campus, as there is currently no place on Vanderbilt’s campus or in the city of Nashville that serves kosher meat. In fact, Rabbi Shlomo says that he often faces questions about kosher food on campus.

“I get calls very often from prospective Jewish families and one of the first questions they ask is ‘Is there kosher meat on campus?’” he said. “As someone who cares about the general Jewish life on campus, it is really an important component of Jewish life on campus to have a kosher meal.”

 The need for kosher food

Students who keep kosher on campus have few options besides Grins, which is strictly vegetarian, meaning there is no place right now to get kosher meat. Both Grins and Aryeh’s Kitchen are kosher, but the two feature completely different menus since Grins is solely vegetarian and vegan.

“We don’t believe that it is going to be a competition for kosher food at all,” Rabbi Shlomo said. “We are not going to be selling food that is similar to Grins, we are focused on providing kosher meat to Vanderbilt. We think that what may happen is that more people will keep kosher at Vanderbilt, or start keeping kosher, and because of these options, there might be more business for Grins.”

The university has recognized the need to bring kosher meat to campus. Not only did Vanderbilt Dining approve the idea when it was pitched by Freeling and Rabbi Shlomo, but they also encouraged the project’s place on the Meal Money plan as a way for students to purchase these kosher food items.

“Vanderbilt has been very helpful. From the time we pitched this idea to them, they really said ‘It’s a need on campus. We know it’s a need on campus,’ and they were thankful to us to work with them. We started with Dean Bandas, and from there we went to the other administrators to deal with the financial and the food side of it,” Rabbi Shlomo explained.

Choosing the name

When it came time to deciding what the food truck should be called, Freeling had only one name in mind. “My Hebrew name is Aryeh Yitzchak, which means Laughing Lion,” he said, adding that “it represents a tough and happy character,” which is what Freeling hopes the food truck will embody. Freeling also said that his Hebrew name was given to him by his dad, who has played a small but important role in the creation of this food truck.

“[My dad has] been working from an advising role. He has been a great resource for advice and guidance. But in terms of the actual, on the ground, operational side, that’s kind of where I [and] the rest of the team and Shlomo comes in,” Freeling said.

The food behind the truck

The head chef of Aryeh’s Kitchen is Eddie King, who has spent the last five years cooking on tour for Rascal Flatts. He has also previously cooked on tour with Kanye West and Journey. King says that he sees the food truck as an opportunity to experiment with cooking different foods.

King explained that the food truck will be set up as a “party deck.” There will be a chrome trailer with the back cut off, where food will be delivered and ordered. That leaves the front of the truck as a space designated solely for cooking. King estimates that food will be ready in ten minutes, perfectly suited to the fast-paced lives of college students who are looking for delicious meals in a short amount of time.

Aryeh’s Kitchen will be parked on Greek Row (25th Avenue) and will be open for business before the end of this academic year, where they will serve their regular menu while also adding kosher options during the holiday of Passover. Additionally, Aryeh’s Kitchen will accept Meal Money and will be on the Taste of Nashville program as early as the next school year.