Cooking Culture at Northern Kentucky University’s Travel Wagon


Indian sampler starting counterclockwise: Naan (bread), Basmati Rice, Chickpeas, Vegetables, Sauce, and Masala chicken.


Situated next to Steak and Shake, the Travel Wagon acts as a glimpse for students to catch a glimpse of different cultures.  But how do the cooks decide on the world cuisine each week?

Turns out that it takes a lot of prior planning during the summer.  Patrick Hannan, Resident District manager of Chartwells (the company behind the Travel Wagon brand) has 35 years of culinary experience and has mastered many worldly dishes.  Hannan challenges his team, 30 cooks and 2 chefs, to make our cultured meals from scratch, often taking traditions and adding a twist (MasterChef anyone?)  For Mediterranean week, the team invented their own version of hummus containing white beans instead of popular chickpeas.  Chinese food is the overall cash cow, always bringing the biggest profit, but whatever the country chosen—providing healthy options is a must.

The Travel Wagon was originally an actual truck parked on the plaza in front of Student Union two years ago, when the Calahan building was being re-modeled, eventually transporting to its permanent location in Student Union.  Wagon currently serves 200-400 customers daily (calculating  $300,000 in revenue).  “It’s our baby,” says Hannan, “we are proud of it.”


Chefs left to right: Marty Blackburn, Kathleen Kruer, Marty Blackburn.


Does the Wagon take any suggestions for dishes for the future?  Personally, I would love to see uncommon cultures such as Sweden, for example. Yes, says Hannan, via social media (Twitter and Facebook).  However, don’t expect a change in the menu.  Schedules often must be created a summer in advance, in addition to being structured around what brings in the money.

Get your culture on!  The Wagon is open Monday-Friday from 10:30am-2pm and offers 8 different varieties for one country each week, which you can get separately or in a bundle deal.

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