Sunday, September 18, 2016

Great Food Truck Race Reveals ... Americans are kinda gross

I once had an idea for a non-fiction book based on the title - Zagat Guides & Dollar Menus: America's Complicated Relationship with Food. I am a foodie, and my wife was once a pastry chef at a top bakery in Chicago. Now, living in Denver, CO, I am so happy to live in a town with a thriving and world class culinary scene. In the Mile High State, people know how to cook and people appreciate good food. That's a reason I once loved the Food Network, and it's a reason I was once so impressed with and entertained by The Great Food Truck Race, hosted by exemplary chef and restauranteur Tyler Florence. But as the latest season enters its finale, and a trio of mediocre cooks selling low quality grilled cheese are in the running to win it all, I am a bit put off by the show and most definitely by America's taste and (lack of) appreciation of food.

Granted, this season was a bunch of amateurs who had never run a restaurant or food truck before. Even so, I was hoping the show would feature some good cooks - and it did. But the trio of young men calling themselves the Grilled Cheese All Stars have been quite disappointing. According to their bios - and the introduction on episode one - the Cheese Twins Michael and Chalie Kalish had "trained with the best cheese makers in France, Switzerland, and Italy." I call BS on that claim, as should anyone who has watched the show. When have we seen these goofballs use, promote, or even discuss any high quality cheeses? If they had trained with some masters, then they should certainly have enough integrity to use high quality cheeses. I don't see that coming from Costco in bulk. And, watching them prepare their foods does not impress me as men with culinary chops. They appear to be serving crap food to people who don't know any better. When they were selling dishes for $15, I was hoping to hear some high quality ingredients and techniques. But no. And on tonight's episode, they made a bunch of cash selling Oreo milkshakes. Nuff said. I could get much tastier and higher quality food for half that price from the food trucks in Denver like the Denver Biscuit Co. 

As far as the other truck - Carretto Siciliano? Well, I have  no doubt that "mom" can cook. But a bunch of white pasta with marinara sauce is not what I think of when I consider food truck cuisine. I grew up working in an Italian restaurant, and I can appreciate a good meatball. But, I'd have to say the team is winning as much for the notorious personality of the Jersey Shore son, as they are for some high quality food and restaurant management. If any show ever revealed the low-brow side of America, it's the Jersey Shore. The family seems really nice, and Vinny Guanagdino seems like a genuine person. So, I have to be pulling for this team. But I still can't fathom how the Food Network and a great culinary man like Tyler Florence can promote this sort of ... fast food.

I have a feeling the Cheese Bros will manage to pull off a win next week. And, they seem like reasonably nice guys. So, if they do, I would implore them to work at elevating the game ... or stop claiming some phony European pedigree. The past year or so has revealed quite a bit about the true nature of too many Americans. And the McDonald's/Walmart influence of mediocre quality wrapped up in a deal is all too revealing. I just wish I could turn to the Food Network for a little more ... taste.

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