Glenn Ellenberger has been on the hunt for a downtown storefront for several years now.
The owner of Purple Mountain Cheesecakes, which operates out of a building on East Wayne Street, primarily provides sweet confections for local restaurants and special occasions. But he gets people who want just one cheesecake – or maybe even a slice – and he wanted somewhere to satisfy their cravings.
Finding a spot proved more difficult, especially as some of the downtown development projects are several years out.
“We were looking for a place where we could hang up a sign and pay rent,” Ellenberger says. “That's the way we started.”
However, Ellenberger didn't find anything that suited the business, and he came up with a different avenue to bring his cheesecakes to the masses: a food truck.
The Purple Mountain Cheesecakes truck, a 1968 vanette that was a disaster relief vehicle in Illinois, will hopefully hit the streets this fall. Ellenberger, who co-owns the operation with his son Aaron, says the interior is nearly finished and the outside will then be wrapped in vinyl. After that, all that awaits is an inspection from the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health.
The vanette is “something unique and eye-catching,” Ellenberger says, and as it was a disaster relief vehicle, it was well maintained and the mileage is low – just 9,000 miles.
Cheesecake will be the main thing on the truck, but customers can also expect to see some of his other baked goods – pies such as apple and sugar cream and cakes such as pineapple upside down, carrot and German chocolate.
The truck does have a full kitchen with an oven, and Ellenberger says he might start baking cinnamon rolls and serving coffee as the weather cools.
If anything, the sweet scent will lure people to the truck when it makes stops downtown and at car shows, as he expects the vanette to draw attention from auto aficionados.
Tech going French
Hospitality administration students at Ivy Tech Community College are preparing to kick off their fall dinner series.
This year, the Fort Wayne campus will create classic French menus and cook the meals. Most will be fixed-price menus, though the schedule includes two buffets and one à la carte.
The dinners, which are open to the public, will be served at 5 and 7:30 p.m. most Thursdays through Dec. 14 in the hospitality room on the Coliseum Campus, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd.
The first dinner, on Sept. 7, will be a buffet that includes broccoli a la polonaise (broccoli with bread crumbs and Parmesan), riz au curry (curry rice), tournedos Rossini (a French steak dish), and soufflé Hilda (chocolate soufflé).
To view the semester's complete schedule and to buy tickets, which run $20 each, go to IvyTech.edu/northeast/dinners. Wine will also be available for an additional charge.
Beard scholarship to Ohio student
A Van Wert, Ohio, native is one of 10 recipients of a scholarship from the James Beard Foundation.
Alyssa J. Hartman was chosen from the Great Lakes region to receive one of the awards. The JBF National Scholars Program, now in its second year, awards scholarships of up to $20,000 to those who demonstrate the potential for leadership roles in culinary arts, food studies, agriculture, hospitality management and related fields.
Hartman is pursuing a master's degree in food and agriculture law and policy at Vermont Law School to develop a better understanding of the history and current state of agriculture in our country, with the goal of building more equitable and accessible communities using food as the fodder.
• The salad bar at Chappells, which features more than 60 items, is now ready for diners. The addition to the restaurant on West Jefferson Boulevard was part of a major renovation from longtime restaurateur Gary Chappell. And now that it's ready, it means that the restaurant is now open for lunch. Mid-day hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• On Labor Day, Olive Garden will recognize first responders in the area with a special lunch. The Fort Wayne restaurant will be one of 800 restaurants nationwide to deliver and serve a special “thank you” lunch to a first-responder organization. This is the 16th consecutive year that Olive Garden has coordinated this nationwide effort.
The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 461-8304.