Sodexo Inc. Partners With Celebrity Asian Chef In Food Truck At University Of California Davis

Oct. 20, 2011

Sodexo, Inc., along with celebrity chef Mai Pham, celebrates the opening of the first Star Ginger Asian Grill & Noodle Bar in the form of a food truck on the campus of University of California-Davis. The concept is the first stand-alone Southeast Asian retail platform for Sodexo and one of the first of its kind in the U.S. non-commercial foodservice sector. The concept brings authentic dishes inspired by Asian street foods, like Chef Pham's delicious Vietnamese toasted banh mi sandwiches.  

The food truck, stationed outside UC Davis' Silo Union, is open Monday through Friday and offers a selection of items from Chef Pham's Star Ginger restaurant in addition to banh mi, including salad rolls, wok-fried rice noodles such as pad Thai, and aromatic curries.

Chef Pham, a respected national authority on Asian cuisine, created Star Ginger based on the flavors and culinary insights she gathered and crafted while operating restaurants, writing cookbooks, teaching, consulting, and conducting research in Asia over the last 20 years. "The concept represents how we want to eat today—more healthfully, with a bigger focus on quality ingredients and a good measure of culinary adventure," said Pham in a prepared statement. "I am so excited that we have started on this journey with Sodexo and to see that food truck out and about on campus."

Sodexo and Mai Pham entered a license agreement earlier this year that grants Sodexo the right to open and operate the Star Ginger concept at its various managed locations for the next 10 years.  Recent studies have emphasized the effectiveness of mobile food trucks and the advantages of delivering goods and services to high-density areas at the convenience of the consumers.

"Trend data show that our guests are looking for adventuresome and exotic flavors," said Ray Torres, director of business development for Sodexo's Retail Brand Group.  "Bringing the fresh, bright authentic flavors of Star Ginger and Southeast Asia and combining it with the convenience of a Food Truck is a win-win."

"I love the high energy of campus life and am so thrilled to be part of UC Davis," added Pham. "This food truck is like our Star Ginger restaurant but on wheels.  We take great ingredients and cook everything fresh. For students, they can now grab a banh mi or Green Curry rice bowl right between classes! How cool is that?"

In addition to its flagship location in Sacramento, Star Ginger (, currently has locations at Stanford University, UC Berkeley and UMASS at Amherst.  

Beyond her Sacramento-based restaurants, Chef Mai Pham has authored several cookbooks including Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, which received a James Beard Award nomination and was named among the best cookbooks of 2001 by The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times; and The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking, which was featured on NPR's Fresh Air and Martha Stewart Living magazine and television show.  Her newest book, Flavors of Asia, a collaboration with The Culinary Institute of America, was released in April 2009 and features the best recipes from seven Asian countries. Chef Pham is a frequent speaker and guest chef at national culinary conferences, including those of The Culinary Institute of America where she is a member of the college's Asian Cuisines Advisory Council.