Monday, August 20, 2012

The Great Food Truck Race is Back - Food Network

Now that  the Food Network has found its next Food Network Star in Justin Warner, it's time for the third annual Great Food Truck Race, which premiered last night with Tyler Florence returning as host.  The Food Truck Race has been a nice complement to the Food Network Star show as it features teams of food truck operators competing against each other in various cities - with certain challenges - as they "race," or travel, across America in a quest for $50,000.  The standard reality show elimination process is pretty simple - as the food truck who earns the least amount of money each week goes home.

This season, however, there's a twist.

Previous seasons of the Great Food Truck Race have allowed current food truck operators from around the country to compete - and get some great exposure - while touring the country.  This season, a group of food truck owner wannabes are competing for "a new food truck."  The contestants are people who aspire to own their own food truck - and who hopefully have the culinary chops and the market savvy to win the competition.  Additionally, the winners will receive the same $50K as before.  Now, that's a sweet deal.  I am quite impressed with the Food Network for finding eight contestants with food truck aspirations and a business model.  However, I am actually amazed that the Food Network has sprung for outfitting eight trucks with each specific food "point of view." I'm sure they had sponsorship cover it, but that wasn't cheap.  And some trucks will only be used for a couple days.  Potential foodsters include Barbie Babes bringing tastes of Australian BBQ, Coast of Atlanta serving up southern seafood, Pizza Mike's, and Seoul Sausage with some Korean BBQ.

The most heartwarming - and heartbreaking - story came from the competitors Under the Crust.  Hannah, along with her mom and a friend, are [were] hoping to make their way a "mini-pie" food service on wheels, featuring sweet to savory small tart-size pies.  This idea was apparently the dream of Hannah and her fianc√© who passed away from cancer eight months after diagnosis.  I was pulling for them from the moment I teared up.  Alas, the pie dreams were not to be fulfilled as Under the Crust struggled too much on the first day putting together their menu.  And, I was doubly sad because I love pie.  The pie idea sounded fantastic - though I'm not so sure Hannah and her culinary school friend could really bring it.  They did film some good feedback from customers - but it wasn't enough.  Hopefully, Hannah gets another shot someday.

Early favorites seem to be Seoul Sausage - three Korean friends trying to avoid "a real job" and Pizza Mike's - an older gentleman who ran pizza place for years until it burned down.  He's not ready for retirement though, and the food truck opportunity could be just the ticket back.  Momma's Grizzly looks like a weak idea - and it brings up bad memories of Wasilla, Alaska.  And while the waffle guys have a good idea, I don't think they have the culinary skills.  Last year's winner was Korean BBQ, and it looks like "Seoul food" might be just the ticket again.

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