Misa Chien

The Great Food Truck Race Returns

PRESS RELEASE FROM FOOD NETWORK:

THE GREAT FOOD TRUCK RACE’ HITS THE ROAD FOR SEASON TWO

Tyler Florence Returns as Host, Premiere Slated for August 14th at 10pm ET/PT Following ‘Food Network Star’ Finale.

Misa Chien and Jennifer Green on Nom Nom TruckNEW YORK – May 4, 2011 – Food Network, the leader in food and lifestyle entertainment, announce the start of production for the second season of the hit primetime series, The Great Food Truck Race with Chef Tyler Florence returning as host. The show is set to premiere on Sunday, August 14th at 10pm ET/PT after the Food Network Star finale, with all subsequent episodes through September 25th airing Sundays at 9pm ET/PT.

In season two, eight celebrated and diverse food trucks from around the country embark on a coast-to-coast culinary road trip through cities including Santa Monica, Calif.; Las Vegas; Salt Lake City; Denver; Manhattan, Kan.; Memphis, Tenn., Atlanta, and Miami. Each week, the trucks roll into a new city and compete in dynamic challenges – often battling tough conditions including weather problems, location mishaps, food sourcing issues, and ever-changing customer taste buds. In the end, it’s all about which truck can sell the most food and race to the next episode while the losing team is sent home. Guest judges join host Tyler Florence in each episode and the last truck standing wins $100,000.

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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The Great Food Truck Race: Team Bios

If you have already read about the show then get to know the seven teams competing for the $50,000 grand prize.

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Austin Daily Press

Austin, Texas — Austin Daily Press serves up out-of-the-box hot, grilled sandwiches in the team’s signature wrapping: a piece of newspaper from The Onion. In attempts to spread their toasty goodness everywhere, co-owners Cory Nunez and Amy Hildenbrand, with the help of Cory’s girlfriend, Melani Feinberg, deliver sandwiches by request right to their customers. Don’t be fooled by their a cappella sideshow, this trio is highly competitive.

Crepes Bonaparte

Fullerton, Calif. — Team Crepes Bonaparte evolved from Christian Murcia’s graduate project at USC’s School of Entrepreneurship. Emulating the experience of ordering a crepe off the streets of Paris, Christian, his fiancée, Danielle Law, and his childhood friend Matthew Meyer take crepes out of the fine dining realm. Their French-inspired uniforms, music and viewing window from their truck, “Gaston,” are the ingredients Crepes Bonaparte employ to ensure success.

Grill ‘Em All

Los Angeles, Calif. — Grill ‘Em All combines a love of heavy metal and culinary arts into a victorious marriage: a concert on wheels serving up gourmet hamburgers. With backgrounds in the culinary and marketing worlds, self-proclaimed “… bad kids on the food truck block” and childhood friends Ryan Harkins and Matt Chernus take Los Angeles by storm, accompanied by friend Joel Brown. For these three, going on the road with their truck is like going on tour; they plan to do nothing short of rocking the competition.

Jennifer Green and Misa Chien on WannabeTVchef.comNom Nom Truck

Los Angeles, Calif. — Nom Nom Truck brings fusion and traditional Vietnamese sandwiches and tacos to the masses, using fun recipes and fresh ingredients. After meeting at UCLA, Misa Chien and Jennifer Green jumped at the idea to take Vietnamese cuisine mainstream, and David Kien, impressed by the truck’s concept, quickly joined as manager. Smart, savvy and dedicated, they know they will be tough to beat because all anyone can say as they eat their food is “nom nom nom.”

Nana Queens

Culver City, Calif. — Nana Queens, established by Janel Prator, began as a way to impress co-workers after experimenting with banana pudding. Teaming up with her sister, Shanel Prator, and hometown friend Rick Wilson, the Nana Queens combine savory and sweet, serving various flavors of pudding and wings on wheels. Having overcome many obstacles in their pasts, these sisters know the competition is “puddin'” in their hands.

Jazmina Banionis on WannabeTVchef.comRagin’ Cajun

Hermosa Beach, Calif. — Ragin’ Cajun proved to be the obvious next step for Stephen Domingue after operating his restaurant, to bring authentic Cajun cuisine to Southern California. The truck allows for his one-of-a-kind dishes, inspired by his mother’s original recipes, to reach hungry mouths and convert them into Cajun food lovers. Having already conquered Los Angeles, Stephen and his teammates, Joey Quebedeaux and Jazmina Banionis, are ready to spread the love of Cajun food to the rest of the country.

Spencer on the Go

San Francisco, Calif. — Spencer on the Go, founded by Chez Spencer owner and chef Laurent Katgely, emulates a slice of Provence on wheels, giving customers a tasty and inexpensive alternative to high-end French dining. Laurent serves the best and most authentic French dishes (such as frogs’ legs and escargot) for economical prices. He and his teammates, chef John Desmond and operator Jesse Vera, combine their professional training and business tactics, and are sure to stir up the competition.

Now that the dust has settled are you curious like most as to whether the show was real or scripted?  Click HERE.

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Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties

Food and sex have been kindred spirits ever since that first cro magnon man landed a mate because of his ability to hunt.  It was around 300 BC that Epicurus first equated the two in philosophical terms.  The belief that a person’s life ambition should be centered on the pursuit of modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquility now bares his name.  Epicureanism is the PG-13 cousin of Hedonism and has at its core the belief that one should never pass up the chance for an extravagant meal or generous lover.

Nothing has changed in the thousands of years since.  Take blogger extraordinaire Jennifer Iannolo for instance.  In addition to her work with the Gilded Fork, Jennifer has also caused quite a stir with her Sex on a Plate attitude which she exhibits on her blog Food Philosophy that is dedicated to food, sexuality and sass.  Food based television programming  is no stranger to the concept either.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comOddly enough it was the Style Network that introduced American audiences to the concept of “food porn” with the British import, Nigella Bites starring the effervescent Nigella Lawson.  The saucy Brit with the plunging neckline soon had many imitators like Food Network’s Sandra Lee, Giada De Laurentiis and Ingrid Hoffman all of whom have tastefully celebrated their ample curves.  And who can forget Cat Cora AND Rachael Ray tripping saucy in the pages of men’s magazine FHM.

That was the first wave and it was soon followed by Bravo’s Padma Lakshmi and Kelly Choi from the network’s two Top Chef franchises and two more Food Network hosts, Gina Neely and Anne Burrell.  And there has been some eye candy for the ladies like Jamie Oliver and Tyler Florence on Food Network and TLC’s Curtis Stone.  But now there is a new wave of haute cuisine hotties looking to lure more male viewers to networks whose regular viewership is predominately female.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comEarlier this year Food Network kicked it off with the Private chefs of Beverley Hills which chronicles six chefs (three male, three female including Sasha Perl-Raver who has been named one of LA’s hottest chefs) that are all considerably easy on the eyes as they cater, literally, to the BOTOX® crowd.  And of course many of their clients also look as if they just stepped out of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comNow get ready for the full court press.

Travel Channel fired first with Food Wars host Camille Ford.  Each week she takes viewers to cities across America to decide which local eatery makes the best example of their town’s signature dish.  In 2008 Camille founded Sassy Pole Girls a fitness group that uses striptease and pole dancing for exercise.  But Ford is much more than a pretty face and rock hard abs, she is the award-winning producer of the Off Broadway production Jitter.  She is also an avid adventurer often spending her free time rock climbing, kayaking, water skying, snow skying and hiking.  Camille Ford is the consummate modern woman who proves that feminism is wrong, you do not have to choose between intellectual and beautiful.  For more of Camille Ford in action watch full episodes of Food Wars online HERE.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comFood Network, not wanting to be outdone, came back with season six of The Next Food Network Star which featured a cougar (Dzintra Dzenis), a pocket hottie (Doreen Fang), a Giada clone (Serena Palumbo) and a self-proclaimed diva (Brianna Jenkins) plus three hunks – Herb Mesa, Darrell “DAS” Smith and Brad Sorenson.  Sorenson especially seemed to resonate with female viewers who gushed over his dimpled smile via Twitter and the blogsophere throughout the contest.  The young chef even made an impression on guest star Eva Longoria who openly flirted with him during one segment.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comCamille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comThey followed that up with their newest reality show, The Great Food Truck Race which pits seven lunch wagons against each other in a cross country race, ala the Cannonball Run.  Two of the teams feature ladies who are already beginning to rack up Google searches.  They are Nom Nom Truck co-owners Misa Chien (who has also been named one of LA’s hottest chefs) and Jennifer Green and Rajun Cajun’s very own Creole princess Jazmina Banionis.  While Banionis is an aspiring actress and model, Chien and Green all about the food.

Sheetal Bhagat of MasterChefEven Fox’s MasterChef has gotten into the mix.  How lucky are they that two of the fifty finalists to make the final four were the breathtakingly beautiful Sheetal Bhagat and the adorable Southern belle Whitney Miller?  Miller is a student from Poplarville, MS while Bhagat is a cooking instructor from Chicago who apparently has designs on being a star.  On her web site there are MP3’s of her original music, a gallery of photos that look straight from a Cosmo spread, her MasterChef diary and links to her cooking videos.

And “the Online” has its share of haute cuisine hotties as well.  There’s the Bikini Chef Susan Irby who’s known for her figure flattering flavors and the Kitchen Vixen Elizabeth Brown is single-handedly responsible for making “quinoa” a popular Sara O'Donnel is Average Betty and Susan Irby the Bikini Chefsafe word.  And one would be remiss to not mention the super fly red head who has a voice as so hot it could melt an iceberg, Average Betty.

Is this a trend that will continue?  Frankly, I hope so.  I know there will be critics who say that these women are just being exploited for their looks but that is just code wording for all pretty people are stupid.  I say as long as the pretty faces and muscle bound chefs can actually cook no sane person could have a problem with it.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

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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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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