Jay’s Flavorful Legacy: Uniting Bronx Science One Order at a Time

How a family business has opened its arms to the Bronx Science student body.


Nora Torok

Jay’s food truck, El Gran Campeón, is parked for its 13th consecutive year ready to feed the hungry stomachs of Bronx Science students.

There is no denying that a day at Bronx Science can be challenging for students of all kinds. For that reason, when the lunch bell rings, numerous students head for the staircase in the front courtyard, all with one common destination in mind: Jay’s food truck, El Gran Campeón.

With a vast menu, Jay has something for everyone, whether it is a bacon egg and cheese sandwich or seasoned chicken, and it is always delivered with a smile. This is a reputation for which Jay is proud. “I like to look out for everybody,” he said. “Nobody stays hungry.”

Jay’s flavorful legacy began as a family business in 2001 and remains a hit food destination to this day. “My father wanted to work independently. He worked for other people for so many years so he figured that it was time for him to do it himself.” It is that ambition and determination running in the family that allows Jay to remain a driving force within the Bronx Science community. “My family plays a big role in my motivation,” he said. “Because my father started the business, it’s really important for me to embrace it. I want to continue his legacy day by day.”

A glimpse into a busy day of work, leaving an appetizing impact. (Nora Torok)

While founded in 1938, Bronx Science remains an ever-changing environment, yet Jay has cemented himself as a constant. Arriving at Bronx Science in 2010, it’s safe to say he hasn’t looked back since. After 13 years in the same spot on Bronx Science Boulevard, Jay has gathered a wealth of first-hand experiences with a changing youth. As a revolving door of students passes through over the years, they can count on his truck, whether it is a sunny spring morning or a snowy winter afternoon. 

“It feels good to really connect with the students and develop a bond with them, but it always comes with a price. After seeing them every day for four years, it always feels a little bit sad seeing them go. But the good thing about it is that everyone comes back for homecoming and makes sure to come see me. That makes me feel really, really good because I know that we have a true bond,” Jay said.

Bronx Science students also feel the bond described by Jay. “His food truck plays a very important role in my life. As soon as I get off the bus at 7:30 in the morning, I always like to make sure to get a cup of coffee because I can’t get through my day without it. He’s always there, bright and early, even in the morning right before everyone else comes. I can always rely on that source of energy, both from the actual coffee itself and from Jay’s nature,” said Sheikh Islam’23.

A visit to Jay’s food truck is a fundamental part of the Bronx Science student experience. Varun Swarup’25, a devoted customer says, “My days aren’t complete without a stop at Jay’s. His filling chicken burritos and upbeat spirit gets me through the week.” (Nora Torok)

The students at Bronx Science express how his contagious laugh rubs off on them. “I think it’s just a part of my personality,” Jay responded. “That’s just who I am. I don’t like to be sad and I want to make the most of life. We wake up and we’ve got to take advantage of every day. It’s especially easy when you have the students around you.”

His impact is felt among students of all different grades and walks of life. Christina Kantlis’26 offers her perspective as a ninth grade student. “Jay always remembers my order even though he serves hundreds of students a day. Coming to Bronx Science as a ninth grader this year wasn’t the easiest adjustment. I was never used to the big school environment but I was able to get to know Jay very quickly. Having a familiar face around every day during lunch really made the transition easier.” 

His ability to remember the orders of hundreds of students is a well-known quality that sets him apart from other food businesses and is a symbol of his integration within the community. “When I was in high school and college, I waited tables for a long time, so that skill of service kind of stuck around. That whole process comes back from years ago because when I was working, I never used to write any orders down,” said Jay.

Sheikh Islam’23 shares his favorite lunch memory. “One day I ordered lunch and then realized that I didn’t have enough money to pay for it. Jay simply said that I could pay him back the next day. The element of generosity and trust is what makes it so special and unique compared to any other food truck.” Not only is it the dishes bursting with flavor that have made the truck stand out, but it’s also the service and relationships that are formed.

As Jay feeds the hungry stomachs of hundreds, he facilitates an interwoven student body. “The chicken nachos are a great meal to share with other people. The best part about it is that friends and I are able to bond over a common meal,” said Sheikh Islam’23

His presence is strongly felt, as students claim that meals from other areas around the school don’t begin to compare. “The students are so open-minded and are always willing to try new things. That’s what I love about them; they explore and are really welcoming…I joke around with everyone a lot but in all seriousness, I love hearing about how their days are going. I’m always proud when I find out that they are heading to college.” said Jay.

“We’re always going to be here for the students because the students are here for us,” said Jay. “We’ve created our own little family. Everyone grows up so fast and it’s amazing to me how much can come from a food truck.”

Jay’s perpetual presence poses a comfort to many generations of Bronx Science students. (Nora Torok)

“We’re always going to be here for the students because the students are here for us,” said Jay. “We’ve created our own little family. Everyone grows up so fast and it’s amazing to me how much can come from a food truck.”