Kris Mill of Chandler, the owner of the food truck Wok This Way, does much more than sling delicious Asian-inspired fare. She started the business to give her best friend’s son, Jake Lipovitch, who has Down Syndrome, “something he calls his own,” Mill says.
Over the next couple of years, Mill plans to create a not-for-profit corporation and develop a fleet of healthy, sustainable vegetarian and vegan food trucks nationwide to employ people like Jake. She was recently named one of the 48 Most Intriguing Women of Arizona for 2022 by 48 Arizona Women, an Arizona Centennial Legacy initiative.
Mill, who’s also a licensed counselor, was present when Jake was born and later got a call from his mother, Michele Lipovitch.
"She said, ‘Oh my gosh, Jake has Down Syndrome,” Mill recalls. “I said, ‘We’ll get through this.’ I already had a lot of experience in Special Olympics and special needs, long before Jake was born.”
Mill and Jake, who will be 16 in April, are so close she calls him her “nephew.” They began cooking together when he was a toddler, and the idea of a food truck dawned on her later.
“I wanted to build a truck that would empower people with special needs,” she states.
The philosophy for Wok This Way is based on what’s good for people and the planet, Mill explains. All items except one (“beef” lo mein) are gluten-free because Jake and many of his peers have issues tolerating it, and nuts and seeds are avoided because of allergies. Dishes are low-sodium, meat-free, and under 500 calories.
Wok This Way is also a certified “green business” by the Green Restaurant Association, City of Phoenix, and Local First Arizona. Biodegradable utensils are made from corn, and appliances are Energy Star rated.
“I didn’t want a greasy food truck,” Mill says. “We don’t have a fryer, microwave, or can opener.”
You can visit Wok This Way in downtown Phoenix on First Fridays Roosevelt Row; also check for events by clicking “Find Us Now” at WokThisWay.today.