Great Food Truck Farce?

For the past six weeks we’ve watched Tyler Florence traveling the country with a culinary caravan to determine who has the best food truck business in what Food Network called the Great Food Truck Race.  Each week we have been amazed at how much better the Nom Nom Truck team was than everyone else in the “race.”  Five challenges, all won by Nom Nom.  Let’s face it, if this were an actual contest then it ended two weeks ago.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comNom Nom has clearly demonstrated that of the seven food trucks in this “competition” they were far and away the best.  They have won every single challenge coming into the finale so if they didn’t win it can only lead to one conclusion.  The contest was rigged.  Period.

If the rules of your so-called contest mandate that you throw out everything leading up to this point then it was never a fair contest.  Phrases like “anything can happen” and “it all comes down to this” are indications that a contest of this sort may not be on the up and up.

The rules as established in the first episode stated simply that the team that sells the most, wins.  Nom Nom secured that title weeks ago.  In fact no one even came close in any of the challenges.  So for them not to win can only suggest one thing – this was no contest.

Food Network has had a history of contests where the math does not add up.  The most glaring head scratcher being season four of the Next Food Network Star where Aaron McCargo Jr. gave an atrocious performance in the second to last challenge yet the judges elected to change the rules to keep him in the contest and of course he won.  McCargo’s show, Big Daddy’s House, remains on the network despite never resonating with audiences while two other contestants from that season, Adam Gertler and Kelsey Nixon, have gone on to become much more popular than the show’s winner.  A third, Kevin Roberts, has been hosting BBQ Pit Masters on TLC and now on Planet Green; his show is watched by more people than Aaron’s.

Flat Iron BuildingTo have these teams drive from LA to New York, without actually ever racing their food trucks mind you, only to decide the winner by who can climb the stairs of the Flat Iron Building the fastest takes all credibility from this show.  It also means yet another black eye for the network when it comes to trusting their supposedly unscripted content.

The other truck, Grill ‘Em All Gourmet Burgers, needed help twice by winning some of the goofy “truck stop” challenges just to make it this far.  Then in day one of the NY competition they ripped the bumper off a parked BMW at a night club.  The cost of fixing that car should have come from their sales total.  Then when the last “truck stop” challenge was issued, Grill ‘Em All did not follow the directions to prepare the other truck’s specialty.  Instead of making a Banh Mi sandwich they went to a Vietnamese restaurant and bought everything pre-made and simply put it together.

The cameras were rolling for both of Grill ‘Em All’s infractions, why did they not do anything about it?  A show with integrity would have addressed these issues.  A show with no integrity would ignore them.  So what did producers of the Great Food Truck Race do?

Well, Nom Nom won the “truck stop” so that alleviated them from having to deal with Grill “Em All’s store-bought Bahn Mi I guess.  Still they cheated so the contest should have ended right there.  And the $1000 Beemer bumper?  Throughout the competition unanticipated costs always came out of a truck’s sales.  But not in this one isolated case.

I’m not the only person who doubts the outcome of the show either.  The LA Times did a story about it (HERE) and there is a new blog that has sprung up called What Happened to Nom Nom Truck? (HERE) that serves as a forum for conspiracy theorists that contains far more credible intel than you will ever find from 9/11 Truthers or Kennedy Assassination nut jobs.

To sum it up, this show’s integrity is in question.  It appears the entire thing was a publicity stunt, a ratings grabber but not an actual contest where the winner was the best contestant.  Though they had their moments, for the most part Grill ‘Em All was not very good throughout the race and they unquestionably cheated in the end.  All of that was caught on camera yet the producers ignored it.

I have wasted six weeks of my life watching something that claimed to be a contest only to discover what I believe was a scripted, fictional representation of what a contest like this might look like.  If they bother with a second season I certainly will not.

So, you watched it.  What do you think, fair or fixed?  Comment below.

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10 Responses to Great Food Truck Farce?

  • DazzlinDonna says:

    I said pretty much everything you said when the show ended tonight. NonNom should have been the winner. It just doesn't make sense. Why even bother to have all the previous challenges? Why not just have the finale and get it over with? Very disappointing.

  • Mike says:

    in what way did grill em all cheat, you sound like bitter fans of nom nom, lot's of people think NOM NOM padded their tills, and the selling the most rule, was only per city not all sales in total combined. Plus Nom Nom won the final challenge-so where is the fix?

    • Grill Em All did not make their Bahn Mi sandwich they bought it from a Bahn Mi shop. They purchased all of the ingredients pre-made and simply put it together. They also did not deduct the cost of fixing the BMW they destroyed from their sales where as every other team in the competition had to pay all of the their unexpected expenses out of theirs. It wasn't necessarily a fixed competition but is was not a fair one either. Of course had you read the post you just commented on you would have known all of this.

      • GAZ says:

        So? It didn't help, did it? The Nom Nom truck still won the truck stop, so what's your gripe?

        What's more glaring is the locations – how did BOTH trucks wind up in Union Square, out of all the places in Lower Manhattan? And how did Grill 'Em All get to the Flatiron faster than Nom Nom, when 1) the Flatiron is within walking distance of Union Square, and 2) Nom Nom left first?

        I'd guess an intern was directing people to the trucks, to keep things close. In other words, less than honest.

  • isitreal? says:

    When grill them all was kept in the race by winning that $1000 challenge I knew they would end up winning it all. If was obvious the show wanted to keep them in. After having watched enough (really too many) of these type of reality shows you can see the signs from a mile away how it will play out. They never want the team that wins alot to win it all.

  • Norm says:

    Very interesting perspectives. I wasn't going to watch the finale because Nom Nom was blowing everyone away so badly. It would have been anti-climactic. I can believe them struggling in some of the boroughs, but the end was a bit fishy and could have been engineered.

  • joe says:

    How can the Nom truck park right in front of a fire hydrant?

  • John says:

    It was definitely fixed. They changed the rules half way through the show when Nom Nom was winning every episode.

  • Fusion Cafe says:

    I've got this to say in regards to the show being a fake (besides the cheating issues):
    1. Are there really that many food trucks operating that make so much dough that they can afford a lead car logo'd the same as the truck?
    2. Who is lucky enough to find a 25' parking space anywhere in any of the 5 NYC boroughs? And not to mention get away with parking in front of a fire hydrant!
    3. And being a mobile restaurant operator (Fusion Cafe in Columbus, Ohio) you really expect me to believe that without help from the Food Network that any truck is making $500.00 at each stop (Maybe the Kogi Truck in LA)? And without prior knowledge of the city?

    It was/is a fake!! I'd like to see them come to my city and make the $$ they made in 1 day!!

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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