Book calls Chandler businesswoman ‘intriguing’ - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Book calls Chandler businesswoman ‘intriguing’

April 1st, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Book calls Chandler businesswoman ‘intriguing’
Business
1

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Kris Mill says people come up to her all the time surprised and happy to see her and her food truck at events around the Valley.

“When we’re at events, I get a lot of feedback from customers, like, ‘Thank goodness you’re here, because we’re tired of the greasy food,’” Mill said. “People are trying to eat healthier. There are more people now who are vegetarians and vegans than when I … started this about six years ago.”

Mill serves vegetarian and vegan food from her truck, Wok This Way. She is co-owner with a young man she calls her nephew, Jake Lipovitch. They aren’t actually related: he’s the first-born son of her best friend from sixth grade. Still, they might as well be related with how close they’ve become.

Mill said they both share a passion for cooking. Jake, who will soon be 16, has Down syndrome and that has motivated Mill to help. She said teaching people with Down syndrome how to cook healthy meals and providing them those meals is one thing she can do, because people with that condition often tend to be overweight.

“He loves to cook with auntie,” Mill said. “He’s one of the many reasons, he’s the largest reason, why I have this food truck.”

Another thing she can do is give them jobs. She said they make excellent workers and half of her staff have Down syndrome.

“It’s a way for them to feel empowered,” she said.

Mill says she is working to make her food truck business fully sustainable, including zero waste. She hopes to get a second food truck in the coming years, one dedicated to vegetarian burgers. And then possibly a third truck after that, which she hopes will be electric.

Her efforts to provide healthy food choices, employ people with Down syndrome and work toward sustainability have been noticed. The Arizona Historical Society and 48 Women chose the Chandler resident as one of the 48 most intriguing women in Arizona this year. The book, titled ““48 Women: Arizona’s Most Intriguing Women,” is being published next month and can be ordered at 48women.org/the-book.

She is the only Chandler resident on the list.

“It surrounds my passion for what I do for the community,” Mill said. “I’m very involved in sustainability, zero waste, hiring special needs, especially Down syndrome, for employment.”

She is also working with others to create a nonprofit to get people with special needs involved in the culinary arts.

Mill said she believes her truck is the first in Arizona that specializes in vegetarian and vegan dishes. She said it’s also the first in the state to become zero waste.

“When the truck was built, from the start, it was built to be a green food truck,” Mill said. “All of the appliances that are on the truck, including the lighting (were built that way). We do compost.”

She said she is working with Arizona State University on a project to use her greywater for agriculture.

Mill said she started with the dream of opening her own restaurant, one that was healthy that she would want to eat at. After trying some pop-up restaurants, she and Jake decided on a food truck. She said all of the meals they offer are 550 calories or less and all of the food is fresh. She said there’s nothing frozen on the truck.

In keeping with the wok theme, the dishes are Asian influenced.

The pandemic has been just as tough on the food truck industry as it was for restaurants. Supply lines continue to be a problem, Mill says. And on top of that now, there are concerns over gas prices that restaurants don’t need to worry as much about.

“The last two years were devastating to us,” Mill said. “Absolutely devastating. The industry is still getting hit. I’m trying to get people to work on the truck, people don’t want to work. They don’t even show up for interviews. I have a lot more success with my Down syndrome workers.”

Mill said there are signs that the pandemic is winding down.

“In the past six weeks, we have had multiple events,” Mill said. “And we’ve had people calling us to show up for events. It has totally changed.”

And Mill said she hopes other food trucks will follow her model and start offering more healthy options.

Where to find her

To find locations where the food truck will be, visit wokthisway.today.

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