The Great Food Truck Race

Food Network Scores Best-ever September

Restaurant StakeoutNEW YORK – September 27, 2012 – Food Network has launched into autumn with its best September in network history (up over 20% from September 2011), posting a .6 among adults 25-54 and was watched nightly by an average of 1.1 million P2+ total viewers making it the highest-rated, most-watched September ever.  The network also ranked 8th among ad-supported cable networks A25-54 for the month, up one spot from last year, according to Nielsen Media Research*.

Sunday night series The Great Food Truck Race revved up ratings with an average .9 rating for adults 25-54 after premiering six episodes of the seven-week stunt.  Also driving September’s success were primetime hits Restaurant Stakeout (averaging .9 adults 25-54, outpacing season one by 13%) and Restaurant Impossible (averaging .9 adults 25-54, up over 50% from the same timeslot a year ago).  Food Network also saw success in its weekend daytime programming block, with Pioneer Woman posting .6 women 25-54, gaining +50% over year ago timeslot.

The Great Food Truck Race Season 2 Team Bios

Café Con Leche (Los Angeles) serves up late-night authentic Gabriel Martinez, Maria Felipe and Frankie TostaCuban food on wheels with boisterous personalities and a go-getter attitude.  Gabriel Martinez, Maria Felipe and Frankie Tosta bring the fun with passion for their Cuban  heritage and inventive mindsets to intimidate the  competition. This truck got its start when the trio found themselves in Los Angeles without a late-night spot for café con leche or Cuban sandwiches and took matters into their own hands. With founder Gabriel’s café con leche recipe, Maria’s salsa dancing and Chef Frankie’s experience, this truck has been a party ever since wheels started rolling.

Devilicious Dyann Huffman, Kristina Repp, Mark ManningDevilicious (San Diego) serves up insanely evil comfort food and irresistible combinations with dishes so good, they’re bad. Best friends Dyann Huffman and Kristina Repp quit their jobs and opened the truck with their culinary expertise, while Dyann’s fiancé Mark Manning is the duct tape for not only the truck but the ladies themselves.  The team cooks their way across the country with dishes like fried mac & cheese balls with bacon – and they are determined to take their truck to the top.

Hodge Podge Chris Hodgson, Jacquelyn Romanin, Catie HodgsonHodge Podge (Cleveland) owner Chris Hodgson opened his first food truck (Dim and Den Sum) on a dare, and Hodge Podge is his latest creation. Chris started his food trucks before  there were laws or permits in Cleveland for them, but his magnetic personality and chef skills made his food an overnight sensation. Working with his sister Catie Hodgson and long-term girlfriend Jacquelyn Romanin, the team brings “the best in the Midwest” to the competition.

Korilla BBQ (New York), which stands for Korean + Grill, is the brainchild of Columbia University graduate Edward Song.  After Korilla - Edward Song, Stephan Park,Paul Leegraduating during the country’s economic downturn, he found himself thinking outside the box –  unexpectedly enrolling in cooking school and taking his passion for Korean food to the streets of New York  City.   His high school friends Stephan Park and Paul Lee have been with the truck since day one, and together they have made Korean food accessible to the masses in a fast and convenient way.

The Lime Truck - Daniel Shemtob, Jason Quinn, Jesse BrockmanThe Lime Truck (Irvine, Calif.), run by a trio of young, passionate foodies from Orange County, has a unique concept with no set menu, other than a few staple dishes.  Owner Daniel Shemtob, along with Jason Quinn and Jesse Brockman, has gained a big following in Southern California with this exclusive, gourmet restaurant on wheels.  Fiercely competitive, these confident 20-somethings want every diner to leave the truck with a smile and a full stomach – but they also want to win.

Roxy’s Grilled Cheese (Boston), run by brothers/band-mates James and Mike DiSabatino, along with trained chef Marc Roxy’s Grilled Cheese - James DiSabatino, Mike DiSabatino, Marc MelansonMelanson, serves gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and makes each dish an experience. While touring with their band, James and Mike sometimes lived off five dollars a day, so simple sandwiches became their dietary mainstays. These Boston hooligans have fun serving up their twist to the childhood classic, adding ingredients like guacamole and foie gras. Marc joins in with his ingenious grilled cheese creations, as the competitive trio vies to put Boston on the map in the food truck business.

Seabirds (Costa Mesa, Calif.), created by Stephanie Morgan, brings healthy Seabirds - Stephanie Morgan, Nicole Daddona, Raya Belnavegan options to the streets with their fresh and innovative creations. Along with Nicole Daddona and Chef Raya Belna, these ladies are proving just how delicious vegan cuisine can be. The Seabirds are dedicated to using local organic ingredients to make their top-sellers, like Beer Battered Avocado Tacos and BBQ Jackfruit  Sandwiches.  This all-girl team is competitive by nature – and ready to bring amazing vegan food to the masses.

Sky’s Gourmet Tacos (Los Angeles), known for its “Mexican food with a Sky’s Gourmet Tacos, Barbara Burrell, Victor Burrell, Kevin Minorsplash of soul,” is the creation of Barbara Burrell, a former corporate executive who literally followed her dreams into the food world. Joined by Barbara’s son Victor Burrell and business partner Kevin Minor, “the sky is the limit” for this truck as they serve their signature shrimp tacos and other delicious creations to their Los Angeles customers. Ready to bring their cooking cross-country, the team pushes their business ahead with determination and excitement.

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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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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