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Great Food Truck Race

FYI - The Food Network has announced a new show called "The Great Food Truck Race." Premiere episode starts in San Diego.

Established food trucks will have 3-days to stock, prepare. market and sell as much food as possible.

Me, I'm looking for a 3-day progressive Chowdown.

Press release here: http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/20...

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  1. Ewilensky, that's the first I'd ever heard of "The Great Food Truck Race." Thanks for the heads up. Any idea as to whether they've already filmed the first episode? If not, I want to attempt hunting these food trucks down!

    9 Replies
      1. re: DiningDiva

        First I''ve heard of it was yesterday. Best bet would be to follow some of the trucks competing on Twitter. I'm sure they'd either post their location there or, if rules prevent that, post that they were heading off to compete in some show. Part of the competition is marketing their product, so they shouldn't be too hard to find and with this group, I imagine we'll be the first in the city to know.

        1. re: Ewilensky

          I suspect it's already been filmed. FTV has been hyping the show for the last couple of weeks. My guess is that it's already in the can.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            I'd love to see a Food Truck Slalom race at the stadium parking lot. Give the chefs 30 mins to prepare hot 3-course meals for 20 Chowhounds in the back of the truck *while the driver competes for time in a slalom around cones and obstacles*.

            Smoothies would not be permitted.

      2. re: mackrelmint

        They filmed the San Diego segment last week, and as the Press Release indicates, none of the competitors are local SD food trucks. However, I did read some of them were on hand at the shoot and could be featured in cameos.

        1. re: foodiechick

          none of them were SD trucks?? WT*, what good is that??, sounds like another FN hype segment. Hope FN isn't going to ruin some of the best SD chow destinations.

          1. re: cstr

            Think of it as The Next Food Network Star for food trucks. They are not featuring trucks in a particularl locale, they pre-selected food trucks to compete against each other in challenges in different locations around the U.S. on a road trip to NYC, with a truck being eliminated each week until they're down to 2 remaining truck as they arrive in NYC.

            Covers all the FTN bases - competition/challenge shows, unknowns vs. celebrity chefs, road shows, and the ever vital 18-35 year old male demographic.

            Chances are pretty good that this limited run series will have virtually no impact on the local food truck scene. I don't think anyone's in danger of being harmed by the exposure, or lack thereof.

          2. re: foodiechick

            Looking at the Twitter feeds of some of the trucks, it looks like they probably filmed in May-June because all seemed to be on hiatus around that time.

          3. re: mackrelmint

            Article about this show came out a while back - seems the Grill' Em All and Austin Daily Press teams became really good friends to the extent that had tattoos done of each other's logos! So when I watched the 1st episode, I knew Grill 'Em All would survive.

            So far, I like this show even though it's obviously a Top Chef/Amazing Race mishmash but it's better than Iron Chef or The Next Iron Chef.

          4. Pretty sure this was already filmed. I remember Grill 'Em All saying they were going to be here in NYC for a TV show/contest about 2 months ago, and that's a long way from LA.

            1. Watched the Food Truck Race last night when they were in SD.
              They were all over SD, from Adams Avenue Street Fair, Seaport Village, East Village, PB and Gaslamp.
              It was fun watching the food trucks in SD but wish we had one of our own representing.
              All the food looks great and I wish them all the best!

              36 Replies
              1. re: Beach Chick

                Did you find it odd that the burger truck praked on 30th did so poorly? This should have been a no brainer. When I heard them saying they were going to NP and the bar scene, I thought they'd made an inspired choice. Not so much, I guess we know why I'm not operating a food truck ;-)

                Bahn Mi at the Hillcrest farmer's market? No brainer
                Breton Crepes on the fringes of Little Italy? Good choice
                Pressed Sandwiches in PB? Would have been more successful if - a) it had been summer or b) they were in OB
                Banana Pudding? What were they thinking? This is not a wings and pudding type of town.

                And San Diego proves once again just how telegenic it really is

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  Who thinks there is a veiwership for this drivel. What's next the great grease trap scrape out?

                  1. re: ospreycove

                    Yeah, I can't imagine watching this every week...kind of the same thing all over again. Plus it really was more about the marketing of the trucks than the cooking.
                    Beyond that, the Cajun guy with his fricking whistle jumping up and down was enough to put me over the edge!

                    1. re: ospreycove

                      obviously the network does, since they made it...and no one's forcing you to watch it, so if you think it's drivel and not worth watching, that's your prerogative. for the record, i did watch it, and it's like any other food/cooking competition show - they're competing to show off their food, one-up the competition, and find ways to be resourceful about making money.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        good heal.....Aren't you burning out on the proliferation of reality show...everything?????? I am waiting for the great leftover search show!!!!
                        I guess you are correct the Netrwork knows what the consuming public wants, and has the producers and writers to sate that hunger.

                        1. re: ospreycove

                          the only "unscripted" shows i watch are Top Chef, the Next Food Network Star (though i could take it or leave it), Chopped and So You Think You Can Dance. i had a brief run with Hell's Kitchen, but gave up on it after less than one season, and i've never even seen American Idol, Survivor, Project Runway, or any of the other shows everyone seems to love.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I know what you mean; how much can they stretch this current theme. Hey, Bring on" Dexter" anytime!!!!!

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              As a former contestant and a huge fan of the Price is Right....I think a food game show would be a HUGE hit.
                              Prizes to Patricia Wells cooking school in Provence..set of Wolf kitchen appliances..

                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                Isn't that what Chopped essentially is? And Top Chef? And TNFNS?

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  Haven't seen Chopped but I'm talking game show like the Price is Right format...plus, there's no wheel or showcase.

                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    BC, Chopped is pretty good, I think you'd enjoy it. Tuesday at 10 pm. Also, depending on which provider you've got in SD, you can get it at 8 pm on Friday's as well. One of my favorite shows on FTV.

                                    It's the one FTV show I watch that I know I'd NEVER want to be a contestant on. I think it's difficult. Every cheftestant on the show is a hero in my book.

                      2. re: DiningDiva

                        i watched it too - the banana pudding & wings were destined to fail, for more reasons than just the concept. how do people running a food truck NOT keep an eye on their propane supply? and the dynamic among them, with the guy just sleeping in the 2nd day and not caring...it was all very odd.

                        someone needs to put a muzzle on the Ragin Cajun guy. i think i'm going to have to root against them just so we don't have to listen to his screaming every week! and i'm not all that interested in seeing the French team win, but i have to give them credit for a unique concept - setting up seating and offering table service is definitely not something you expect from a food truck.

                        i think the Nom Nom truck clearly has their act together more than any other team - i suspect they're the ones to beat. but i'm pulling for the Grill Em All or Austin Daily Press guys - i like their energy the best, and i have to support at least one hometown team :)

                        BTW, did you catch the signage when they were doing their grocery shopping? Jimbo's isn't exactly the most economical choice!

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I think the Nom Nom truck is probably the best conceptualized truck of the lot too, but I wonder how the bahn mi will play when they get off the coasts. Will if fly as well in Santa Fe?

                          I think they were also shopping at Restaurant Depot

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            i thought they might have been at someplace like Restaurant Depot too, Jimbo's was just the only sign i saw.

                            Santa Fe will be interesting - i'm not so sure the French food will be a huge draw there either. in fact, i think the banh mi/Vietnamese angle will go over better!

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Santa Fe will be interesting, I agree. The dark horse in this race may be the Breton crepe truck.

                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                those crepes looked great!
                                I wish we could get the French Food truck here in SD!

                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                  Chika-dee, there is a crepe vendor at the Little Italy farmer's market every Saturday. Usually swamped. These *are* good.

                                  The French food truck is out of San Francisco, to which my reaction was..."oh, but of course, how appropriate" ;-). Probably better than anything we've currently got, no?

                            2. re: DiningDiva

                              People on the square in Santa Fe are used to crepes. There is a crepe shop that adjoins the La Fonda - right behind where Tyler was standing doing the opening for this episode.

                              That was pretty clever of the Nam Nam crew to call the newspaper.

                              1. re: decolady

                                Shoot, I missed this... did they call to get a plug in the paper? Nice!

                                1. re: waldrons

                                  Yes they did. Apparently, Sauver Magazine named the Nom Nom truck a "best of" and the spokesperson for the truck used that as a hook to get the article in the paper.

                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                    I looked that Sauveur article up, and Nom Nom definitely didn't belong in that list. It was more of a these are the best tacos, and by the way, here's also a couple of innovative tacos being served at taco trucks.

                                    But, from the chowhounds on the LA board, the tacos are Nom Nom's weak point where they just put asian ingredients inside a taco.

                            3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Being that I work in the food truck business and Nana's does park near our truck I do find it strange they somehow ran out of propane.

                              Here is the situation:

                              1. the commissary that we park out trucks at refills the propane for us and bills us on a consistent basis so we are never below half full.

                              2. Even with half a tank of propane we've done $800-1200 days and these guys aren't using their flattop grill, only their fryer so thats even stranger.


                              They lit the pilots and turned on the fryer and left it on while they were driving from Los Angeles to San Diego and for the entire duration until they actually parked.

                              Other than that I was expecting them to do better, I mean who doesn't like fried chicken wings? I was expecting the Cajun truck to go out first. I also agree, that guy screaming all the time is annoying.

                              As for Nom Nom's I'm surprised they did $1700 but then again they do overprice their bahn mi's at $5-6 each when I can get 3 of them at Bahn Mi Che Cali for the same price.

                              I'll keep watching since I want to see how this show turns out since we are being considered for the 2nd season of it.

                              1. re: Johnny L

                                Good luck on getting accepted for the 2nd season.

                                Nom Nom parked at a very upscale farmers market where the clientel has lots of expendable cash and is knowlegable about ethnic food. Bahn mi are pretty popular in SD too. Bahn mi are not quite that inexpensive here, $2.50 - $3 for only 1 is pretty standard. Think of it this way...Nom Nom parked at the SD equivalent of the Santa Monica farmers market.

                                Wings in San Diego? Not so much unless you're at a sports bar. It's a novelty item down here, not something people really seek out. A quick peek at the SD board doesn't turn up any "Best Wings..." threads or any discussion of wings.

                                Burger truck should NOT have missed in it's location. They did something to screw up big time to be in next to last place. There are a couple of locations where they parked that do a very good pub burger, but it's also a location that will really embrace a food truck.

                                1. re: Johnny L

                                  Hey Johnny L..
                                  What kind of food truck do you have?
                                  We'll all be pulling for you for the 2nd season!
                                  If you ever want to come to SD and park that bad boy and start cooking some food...let us know, we'll be there to support you too.

                                  Out of curiousity...what's your take on a garden burger patty melt on rye with grilled onions and thousand island for a food truck item?

                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    I'd rather not say since I don't want to get moderated for trying to promote my own food truck. Also I do not own it I just work for them for now. Might switch to Border Grill Truck later on though if they still need experienced people.

                                    As for garden burgers, to be honest I've never had one but for me its gotta be beef.

                                    As far as I know there are several trucks catering toward vegetarians or have vegetarian friendly foods. Most of them do pretty poor business from what I have witnessed first hand so unless you have good connections in the vegetarian community for catering or can do some sort of cross promotion with say a vegan-coffee shop business on the streets will be very tough.

                                    1. re: Johnny L

                                      Thanks Johnny L..
                                      Totally respect your take on the veggie patty melt idea and also, don't want you to be shut down by the mods.
                                      We're pulling for you and keep us updated!

                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                        its all about marketing. There are plenty of trucks with good food such as Papa's Tapas but they are small and family run.

                                        The smart trucks like Nom Nom and Grilled Cheese spent a good amount of money and effort on marketing campaigns. It's who you know and most of all who knows you. You have to have a very clear and concise business plan and you would have to know your target audience very well and have realistic expectations about how successful you can be.

                                        1. re: Johnny L

                                          I suspect that Nom Nom are much better marketers than cooks.

                                          They were getting written up in latimes and laweekly even before they launched their food truck and people had tried their food.

                                          I'm curious how they were able to so successfully market their food truck, given the glut of other food trucks that came out at the same time.

                                          1. re: hobbess

                                            Must be those Business degrees from UCLA ;-). One of them must have a concentration in marketing, no?

                                      2. re: Johnny L

                                        That's interesting about the vegetarian. One of the most successful non-taco truck mobile vendors here is a truck specializing in the vegetarian street foods of Mumbai; it's also one of the best local trucks over all. Been at it for almost 2 years now. I guess the fact it operates in a part of town with a large Desi presence is a factor but people come from all over the city and even from outside the immediate metro area to try it.

                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    As a Ragin Cajun, I have to say that the Cajun guy is a little over the top. Funny thing is that his accent is dead on. He's the real deal ;-)

                                    I think Nom Nom in this competition may be a bit unfair. Out of all of the trucks in all of the large cities in the United States, I have only read about a handful in the popular media. Nom Nom happens to be one of them. They're all business school graduates, which explains why they have their marketing solid and their sh!t together.

                                    I also got the impression of Restaurant Depot. FWIW, I own and operate a catering company and love this show. I thought it would be a pathetic excuse for a "competition show" but I was thoroughly entertained...


                                    1. re: UptownKevin

                                      I'm glad that the challenge was based on making money. Rather than a judgmental challenge with qualifying factors based on supposed "quality" and performance.

                                      1. re: Johnny L

                                        It's a pretty simple challenge - do your thing and sell your stuff. But it was entertaining to watch.

                                      2. re: UptownKevin

                                        @Kevin & Hounds,

                                        I live in L.A., but my people relocated here from LA in the 1940’s. My paternal grandmother was descended from the gens de couleur libres, and my paternal grandfather was Cajun. I was shocked and dismayed to see Rajin' Cajun in the competition. The guy has an authentic accent, but he owns a restaurant in Hermosa Beach where the food is DISGUSTING. I had food from there ONCE, and will NEVER try it again. What self-respecting Cajun sells gumbo made from BURNT roux?! He claims his food is based on his "mama's mama's mama's recipes," but the food they sell at that restaurant is just a poorly-executed mess. I think the only reason they stay open is their location, near the beach, in a community with no ties to (or knowledge of) Louisiana food-ways. He couldn't pull that mess in some of the traditional areas of Los Angeles where Louisiana folks settled in the 1940's! As far as the on-camera personalities go, the Rajin’ Cajuns don’t seem very likeable, the owner is projecting a stereotypical “coon-ass” caricature as a gimmick; and using the attractive, young blonde to attract male customers. They just come across as sleazy!

                                        I thought the Nana Queens just didn't have their act together, and didn’t represent old school, South Central, soul food trucks very well AT ALL! How do you take off on a food truck competition with no propane in your tanks (WTF)? Some of them were actually crying when they were asked to go; but they didn’t come prepared to cook, and their overall concept was weak. I also didn’t like the fact that one of the sisters disparaged the French restaurant truck as having a menu that was terrible (or some equally negative adjective). That guy is a real chef, who owns a successful restaurant in San Francisco; but, most significantly, she was being negative and unsportsmanlike about a fellow competitor, when she didn’t have her ISH together. I also disliked the burger guy's snarky comments about the Banana Man, as well as the Banana Man's snarky comments about the burger guys!

                                        I have to add that I was disappointed overall with the lack of solid representation from Blacks and Latinos, who started this whole culture in Los Angeles! There should have been at least one taco/Mexican truck, and one solid soul food truck in this competition. The taco trucks consistently win food truck throw-downs all over Los Angeles, and are by far the most popular, most traditional, and most numerous of all the types of trucks here. I think Nom Nom definitely belongs in the competition, as does a burger truck. I wish they could have had a truck from Bayou Grill or one of the more decent Creole spots in Los Angeles, and that could have represented both suol food and traditional LA food cultures from Los Angeles. I’m skeptical that the Rajin’ Cajun truck even existed prior to this competition. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that their truck was devised to allow them to participate on this show.

                                        Now that I’ve finished my belly aching, I just want to add that I really enjoyed the show (as well as the overall concept). It was exciting to watch, and even the obnoxious “coon-ass” caricature was somewhat entertaining. I will definitely be tuning in for the duration, and I’ve got my DVR set for the series!

                                        T-D. Trosclair-Gonzalez
                                        Los Angeles, CA

                                        1. re: TerriDawn

                                          I agree about the need for an honest to goodness taco truck. I was actually kinda surprised there wasn't one since they are all so prevalent all over the southland

                                2. The Next Food Network Star lunch trucks on Venice Beach were so much more fun.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: GraydonCarter

                                    that was a really fun challenge to watch! I am enjoying the truck challenge tho, and will continue to dvr and watch at my leisure. :)

                                  2. It's funny, I watched the show last night, and as I was drivng down LaBrea today, two of the trucks were parked. The ragin cajun, and the banana pudding truck. We just picked up machaca burritos at El Tepyac, but we were right there, so we stopped. We hot wings, and starwberry pudding. The hot wings were good, and haven't tried the pudding yet. At ragin cajun, we got a shrimp po boy. They gave us tastes of food, their brisket was spicy in a sauce, and had a taste of soup that hubby said was good. We liked the shrimp with this really good spicy sauce, however, the sauce that we got with the po boy didn't taste the same, it wasn't as spicy.
                                    They said they are going to be there on Mondays for lunch LaBrea just south of Beverly Blvd on the west side of the street. Also might be there on Friday and Saturday nights.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: paprkutr

                                      I'm sure they're hoping for extra business spurred by the fact that they did the show... I have to ask myself just how well a truck that only sells two things is actually going to do in the real world - how many people like banana pudding enough to hit a food truck for it, even in eight flavours?

                                    2. I watched it from the DVR last night - thank God, I could fast forward past Rajun Cajun guy - good gravy he was irritating.

                                      I like the concept, but wonder how they are going to keep it interesting over the weeks to come. The good news? It's not another one of the food network stupid Challenge shows - really, how may Dora cake challenges do we need?

                                      Hopefully they'll start catching on and doing more advertising, maybe printing out flyers to pass out etc.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: delong99

                                        From the show's website I learned that:
                                        - in Santa Fe they will have cook with NW chilies
                                        - something about beef in Fort Worth
                                        - in New Orleans they have to do something with catfish
                                        - in Tennessee they have do some outdoor, chuck-wagon like, cooking
                                        - last stop in NYC, with the final 2 trucks, something about making the competitors signature dish.

                                        Those things remind me of the requirements added to Dinner Impossible. I wonder if Marc Summers is a producer of this show.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          "Those things remind me of the requirements added to Dinner Impossible. I wonder if Marc Summers is a producer of this show."

                                          Probably, if you watch the credits of almost every show, he'll turn up as producer or executive producer.

                                      2. **Spoiler comment alert**

                                        so after tonight's episode i think it's safe to say i was correct last week when i pegged Nom Nom as the ones to beat. and i have to admit i'm relieved about the way it played out in Santa Fe, because i thought the Ragin' Cajun guy was completely unwatchable...last week it was the screaming, and tonight it was his insistence that they *had* to win the challenge to be safe from elimination. hello, how about having a teeny bit of confidence in your abilities?!

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          I was relieved to see him go too.

                                          Right now Nom Nom is too good to be true...and this is FTV, I'm guessing they'll stumble somewhere along the line. I found their spokesperson a bit unbearable this week, but I still like them. Would prefer to see Crepes Bonaparte win, but I don't think they will. I think it will, however, come down to these 2.

                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                            you're probably right about F2, though i think Grill Em All May be the dark horse, or at least round out the top 3. the French guys can clearly cook, i just don't see how they can be profitable enough in random cities around the country to win this thing.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              I think Grill 'em All has the easiest concept to do in multiple cities. Not to sure how Nom Nom will do in Ft. Worth...BBQ bahn mi?

                                              The real dark horse may, indeed, be the French truck. Every week I think they're going to tank, but they don't.

                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                Does anyone have clear idea of what the French guys did with chiles? Looked like they used them two ways, one with the fresh green ones, and one with the dried ancho. But I didn't catch any details.

                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  The french guys actually did 2 chiles. They took a jalapeno and stuffed it with shrimp. The other chile was a pasilla that they stuffed with a lamb farce. It hink one (perhapst he jalapeno) was deep fried, not sure about the other.

                                                2. re: DiningDiva

                                                  There's a pretty decent-sized Vietnamese population in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and the general Asian population is obviously even larger. And even those of non-Asian descent might actually be willing to try something different, you know. It's not all BBQ. :-)

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    The challenge in FW will to use a lot of beef (1/4 of a cow). How about 'french dip' bahn mi using pho flavored broth? That's a bit messy for street food.

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      I doubt the Nom Nom owners are culinary trained, they are all UCLA grads. I don't have much faith that they would be proficient at taking down a cow with the bones still in it.

                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                      I have good friends in Houston and knew there was a pretty sizeable Asian population there, wasn't sure about Ft. Worth.

                                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                The worst part about watching the Rajun' Cajun' guy was the begging for people to buy their food. I found him annoying last week and this week I was hoping they wouldn't win the chile challenge. I liked the blond cajun however.

                                                I suppose it's easy to say the Vietnamese sandwich truck is the one to beat. I think overall the burger truck should be in it all the way to the end. The crepe 'fancy pants' keep surprising us though. I think it's because crepes are appealing, both savory and sweet and their cost of goods has to be the lowest by far so their profit per item must be pretty high. That's what will likely be the demise of the Frenchies truck. It's funny, because I find many frech chef types to be annoying (these guys for example as well as the French chef on the Top Chef Masters competition) but Jacqes Pepin, Daniel Bouloud, Hubert Keller and Eric Ripert all seem to be great guys as well as great cooks.

                                              3. I just caught the first two episodes On Demand. I'm enjoying it so far but it has some of the basic flaws that bother me about most reality competitions. Some shows seem pretty scrupulous about ground rules and grading like Top Chef, others are clearly fixed from the get go never letting a real competition get in the way of the producers narrative like Last Comic Standing. I would say this show is falling somewhere in the middle.
                                                I would love to have more detail about the food being prepared. Also, I would think any American city would require permits. Are these being waived? Is the show paying for them? What expenses are being covered by the show? I would assume gas and lodging and some sort of scale wage. Do the small stipends for food include the specialty items that some of these trucks require. I would think that the small baguettes that Nom Nom use for every sandwich would be difficult to find in a city like Santa Fe. I'm not saying that it's impossible but it seems to strain credulity that they could clear $3000 on a $300 budget @ $7 per that would be 428 sandwiches each having a good deal less than a dollar worth ingredients per unit.
                                                Finally, a 50k grand prize divided between 3 people seems kind of skimpy for a national TV show but then again I'm sure the publicity is priceless. Like I said, i do enjoy the show. Just wondering if any of you have the same questions.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Memphis Tim

                                                  I do too because the food truck I work for is still considering whether we will accept the invitation to be on the next season. The boss hasn't disclosed the details but we are trying to figure out what we can cook on the road since we prep our food out of a kitchen.

                                                  Like many competition shows there are many things that happen behind the scenes to make it work, I find it hard to believe that Nom Nom is able to buy Lemongrass anywhere they go.

                                                  The publicity is the sole reason to do it though because if people can see our food and we do win the competition then the increase in business would be such a boom.

                                                  1. re: Johnny L

                                                    I'm in suburban Minnesota and I can get lemongrass at any grocery store. I bet San Diego, Santa Fe and Austin have lemongrass at their grocery stores as well. I too am interested in more of the details about how it works, food preparation, etc. I bet the average viewer however is more focused on the personalities involved and less on the food. The producers seem to think that anyway.

                                                    I think the Frenchies are the next to go. (That one guy's beard is a bit odd). I still don't get why the Nom Nom truck has been able to have such big profits on sandwiches while the burger truck and the other sandwich trailer have not been as profitable. I don't think a small mention in the paper is as gold as they have made it look on TV. (I know that if I had to choose between buying a sandwich from the pretty women at Nom Nom or gumbo from that weird cajun dude, the choice would be easy). I do understand why the crepes seem to be doing well. Low cost of food and it's an easier sell and probably cheaper too.

                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                      The advertising is good, but Nom Nom has always gotten good locations. They find where their customers are and go there. The Spencer on the Go guys moved just a short distance and doubled their business. That museum was a goldmine for them. The grill em all guys had a terrible location and did far less business than everyone else. If it wasn't for the Truck Stop, the grill em all guys are way on the bottom.

                                                      It does seem as though results are based on total revenue, and not on profit.

                                                      1. re: escog

                                                        Yea, I was thinking like a businessman, not a reality show viewer when I was figuring out the cost of goods sold. However, if they could sell all of their product, they could make more revenue because you can buy a lot of eggs and flour, but if you don't sell, it doesn't matter what it costs.

                                                        In some ways the location of the truck is more important than what kind of food you are selling, as long as it is good. The burger guys should have killed it in Texas but their location was terrible. If I were the Frenchies, I'd find another museum to park by in New Orleans. The French Quarter already has restaurants selling french-type food.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          Ageed that location is key for this type of business. And, while margin is important, each product has different challenges. Spencer on the go has the most expensive food because of their material costs, but they can get by with much lower volume than the others in terms of revenue. Spencer also has to find the right customers. The Nom Nom truck has hit the right balance - location, marketing, product, price, customers, etc. Their business acumen is just killin' the competition.

                                                    2. re: Johnny L

                                                      The details are, the voting to nominate 10 out of almost 300 trucks just started today. I know because a friend of mine is in the running too, and it's still a pie in the sky situation right now.

                                                  2. Continuing on the topic of what logistically is happening on this show, was anyone else perturbed by how the French restaurant sold a bunch of fun to the French team for a really discounted price? It seems to me there should be a rule about having to actually pay market value for the product you are buying, otherwise you could basically get food donated to you if you were able to make a contact.

                                                    I really want to like this show, as it is an interesting mix of The Apprentice (i.e. location, pricing/sourcing goods, marketing) and Top Chef, but I just wish there was more transparency about what was going on in regards to the money.

                                                    15 Replies
                                                    1. re: pollymerase

                                                      I was more disturbed by the Nam Nam truck getting their leg of beef cut up by a butcher instead of doing it themselves.

                                                      1. re: pollymerase

                                                        "It seems to me there should be a rule about having to actually pay market value for the product you are buying, "
                                                        i disagree. strategy and resourcefulness are two essential elements of a competition like this. they all *start* on a level playing field financially, how they choose to handle it is part of the game. same thing goes for how they market themselves, and the contacts/partnerships they make in each town to help them promote their trucks.

                                                        FWIW, you're absolutely entitled to your opinion, i just don't share it :)

                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                          I think that, in the end, there have to to be firm rules for a competition to mean anything. As it is, what is preventing any team from adding $500 tips from a rich uncles to their take? Besides, even if team Nom Nom wins it all, the prize money isn't going to make a dent in their student loans.

                                                          1. re: Memphis Tim

                                                            I'm assuming the participants must account for their total earnings, with register receipts and itemized deductions (e.g., charity donation, fees for parking at festivals). I doubt the content of a tip jar would be considered revenue. I don't know this of course, but I enjoy it more if I make that assumption.

                                                            I am psyched that they encourage a free-market approach to earning money. It's much more interesting and real-life than if they have to follow pat competition rules. Plus everyone watching this show is thinking that they themselves could start a truck -- that's a huge part of the appeal. So it's interesting to see the problems that come up and how they're solved.

                                                            I loved that Nom Nom went to the butcher to break down that meat. Awesome solution, and they probably continued selling sandwiches while everyone else had their workspaces filled with raw meat. I would loved to have known more about the exchange -- if they paid anything for the butchering service, or traded sandwiches, or if the store considered being on the show to be sufficient marketing benefit, or what.

                                                            The only issue I would have with competitors buying raw materials for cheap is if the quality was questionable. But if it's utilizing industry contacts and obtaining discounts from them, I think that's legit.

                                                            I like this show way more than I thought I would.

                                                            1. re: Niblet

                                                              It was a brilliant move on their part to get somebody else to do the work for them! They really weren't equipped to handle a quarter cow on their truck. One of the other teams pulled an old guy in off the street to do theirs - it's all about making connections and marketing. And boy are those Nom-nom guys good at that!

                                                              1. re: Kajikit

                                                                I don't begrudge NomNOm their successes, and here in southern Calif. banh mi are certainly popular. However, I don't think it was fair that Nom NOm didn't get penalized for having someone else cut up their meat. Everyone else did theirs, as ill-trained and equipped as they were, and it should have been a level playing field. Batting your eyes just doesn't cut it, and that is what comes across as part of their success.

                                                                1. re: mothrpoet

                                                                  I don't see why they should be penalized for something that wasn't against the rules. Seems to me part of the competition is to be resourceful and understand the conditions surrounding each city.

                                                                  There was nothing stopping the other trucks from making the same kind of decision. Or in the example cited by Kajikit above, another truck got a random person to help them. Nom Nom was smart enough to actually use an expert.

                                                                  1. re: Jase

                                                                    No one had to cut up the whole quarter. I think everyone just harvested the quick cooking steaks.

                                                                    The French guys made use of local restaurants that cooked similar items. In Tennessee they even got a delivery from the bistro owner, while the burger guys had to shut down and go to the grocery.

                                                                    We know about these 'cheats' because a camera crew was there to observe every detail. The producers did nothing to stop them. They may have even encouraged such things. In a show like this, entertainment is more important than fairness or a level playing field.

                                                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            No worries, I enjoy a good debate! :)

                                                            I agree with you in the sense that strategy and resourcefulness are absolutely crucial to a competition like this, and that is a large part of why I am so intrigued by this show. I think the Nom Nom team has done well in this respect as they had the foresight to talk to local media and team up with a gourmet market where they assumed they would have a large customer base, as well as be able to restock their product if needed (I'm assuming they were doing so with their own funds, not simply getting hand-outs from the store). To me, it cheapens the competition to be able to get your product for basically free. I'd rather see the teams have to be resourceful by making tough decisions about what they can and can not buy and then make due, rather than beg and borrow from others.

                                                            I agree with what Memphis said below, what's to keep a rich friend/relative/benefactor from leaving a giant tip? It just feels a little too much Celebrity Apprentice (i.e. who has the biggest, richest contact list) rather than good old early Apprentice (i.e. use your skills/smarts to make money).

                                                            1. re: pollymerase

                                                              "I'd rather see the teams have to be resourceful by making tough decisions about what they can and can not buy and then make due,'
                                                              but that is the case...the other teams that haven't been as resourceful still have to ;) and in terms of the Apprentice comparison, i don't watch the Celebrity version, but i did see a couple of the seasons when they were unknowns, and IIRC, they still bartered, got donations for events, convinced people to cut deals with them, etc. but maybe i'm misremembering...it's been a while.

                                                              1. re: pollymerase

                                                                I don't think anybody is advocating that there be no rules, but I think the fewer rules the better. Clearly, the producers have a number of rules in place - everybody starts with the same amount of seed money and they can't use their regular twitter account. These are two of the rules that we know about. I imagine that they've got other rules to cover use of outside money from friends/relatives - the "rich uncle" rule. A "no tips" rule would probably take care of that. But, beyond that, I don't think they need a lot more rules.

                                                                It should be noted that we've seen the trucks have to adjust on the fly. In Santa Fe, supplies were much more expensive than they had anticipated. The Ragin' Cajun team had to drop cheesecake from their menu because of prices.

                                                                1. re: escog

                                                                  I know I saw a tip cup "if you're feeling tipsy" at the Nom-nom truck.

                                                            2. re: pollymerase

                                                              "It seems to me there should be a rule about having to actually pay market value for the product you are buying,"

                                                              Why? In their home territory they're all probably purchasing from a distributor or restaurant purveyor and the prices are definitely not grocery store prices.They're not paying market price at home, why should they pay it on the road?

                                                              1. re: pollymerase

                                                                I think this is just how the real world operates. I haven't watched the Apprentice, so I don't know what goes on. But this isn't really a cooking show but more of a marketing and branding competition. As these trucks are new in the cities, they aren't relying on repeat customers to make their money.

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  There's program on Cooking Channel about the recent trend in food trucks. Especially in the LA area, the successful trucks do a lot of their 'marketing' online. They inform their fans via Twitter about their planned location(s) for the day. If you received notices from a number of trucks, you could plan lunch based on which ones are near your office that day. A truck with experience in that market could have an advantage in this cross country competition.

                                                                  In that area (and maybe California in general), the trucks have to be parked and cleaned at a commissary each night. Food and other supplies are stored and bought there as well. Some do the prep at commercial kitchen.

                                                              2. I watched this for the first time last night. It seems too flighty and missing substance, imo. Are they assigned their parking area? Apparently not since the French guys moved their truck and pulled in many more eaters. I just kept wondering why the hamburger guys kept complaining about their horrid location with no effort to fix it.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: blynk

                                                                  They complained about their location and they moved it, to the end of that alley next to the tattoo parlor. I wish the show would focus a little more on how they choose their locations since it seems to be the most important aspect of success.

                                                                2. Can anybody stop the Nom Nom truck? They're an absolute juggernaut - a paragon of consistency, or are the other trucks just idiots? I was shocked they won in Jonesboro.

                                                                  25 Replies
                                                                  1. re: escog

                                                                    I think they pump out the food the fastest and can handle lines of 50 people better than the other trucks when they happen. Plus they have the cute girl thing going on.

                                                                    1. re: dmckean

                                                                      i also suspect it's a pricing issue. based on the totals they call out for single orders every now and then, it sounds like NomNom charges more per unit than Grill 'Em All. i think the boys should jack up their burger prices for the NY challenge...New Yorkers are accustomed to paying more anyway.

                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                        I don't know if they use the same pricing on the show, but The Nom Nom truck charged $8 for a 6" Sandwich and 2 taco combo at the LA food fest. Which isn't bad. Food came out pretty quickly. Also thier menu gave you choices without giving you too many choices. They seem to have thier stuff together combined with the marketing they have been doing I think it's thiers at this point.

                                                                        1. re: chris2269

                                                                          actually, i just checked Yelp since the guys don't have prices on their website, and it looks like they charge $8 for a burger and $3 for fries here in LA...so i guess they are on a level playing field in terms of pricing. i'm rooting for Grill 'Em All because i like underdogs, but as you said, NomNom pretty much has this one in the bag.

                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            As someone from the Bay Area, I was cheering for Spencer-On-The-Go in this last one. They were smart and really adapted to the enviroment. On pure principle, I think Grill 'Em All should lose. I mean, how did they go to the car show and only come in second? I thought that was pretty pathetic.

                                                                            I'm rooting for Nom Nom, they deserve it.

                                                                          2. re: chris2269

                                                                            That might not be bad for Westside, but that's kinda high when you compare their prices to banh mih places in Little Saigon or San Gabriel Valley.

                                                                        2. re: dmckean

                                                                          I think you're on the right track. Once they have the sandwich fillings cooked, they are just assembling sandwiches so they can sell more units per hour than can the other trucks.

                                                                          What I found fascinating that the girls complained about people not eating late at night and yet they didn't get their truck open until 12:45pm on a Sunday. If you know anything about small town America, it's that the after church crown is ready to eat. If it were me, I would have been ready to sell food by 10am. (There are a lot of early church goers).

                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                            On the other hand they didn't have to close for a hour to restock.

                                                                            I was impressed that they had good sales, even with the generic 'french bread' of a mid-america grocery. I consider myself lucky to be able to buy good rolls from a Vietnamese (mult-ethnic) produce stand.

                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                              We have a lot of Vietnamese, Hmong and other Asian markets. The Nom Nom truck missed the big lunch crowd on Sunday. I think the burger guys hit that and had to leave for more food later. They should have anticipated that and sent one guy to the store and kept selling while he was gone.

                                                                            2. re: John E.

                                                                              Ironically, the first time I ever had Nom Nom (last year sometime), I waited a good 10 minutes, if not more, for my sandwich... it was still pretty worth it though.

                                                                          2. re: escog

                                                                            "Can anybody stop the Nom Nom truck? They're an absolute juggernaut - a paragon of consistency, or are the other trucks just idiots? I was shocked they won in Jonesboro."

                                                                            Perhaps it's not just a fluke that Asians consistently score well on the SAT.


                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                              Way to work THAT into a conversation...

                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                  Hey, it was the ugly pink elephant in the room. Someone had to say it.

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    Okay, sure.

                                                                                    Sure beats the "because they're hot" theory.

                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                          Reportedly good food, pretty girls, and a good marketing strategy. My money's on Nom Nom.

                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                            The producers of this show really painted themselves into a corner. If Grill Em All wins next week it will seem unfair to Nom Nom. If Nom Nom does win then there was never any real competition on this show. When they cast show did they bother to compare the daily receipts these trucks brought in? I wouldn't be surprised if Nom Nom had been regularly been making double that of the other trucks.
                                                                                            Nom Nom is a triumph of an actualized business model. 1. It has a clean, invitingly decorated, family friendly truck fronted by two hot chicks. Grill em All's death metal aesthetic probably scares off more customers than it attracts and Spencer on the Go looks like a mobile pedophile lair. 2. They are master marketers. 3. They have a low unit cost easy to assemble product. They look less like a small business than like a prototype for a franchising opportunity and that makes it kind of hard to root for them.

                                                                                            1. re: Memphis Tim

                                                                                              "They look less like a small business than like a prototype for a franchising opportunity and that makes it kind of hard to root for them"

                                                                                              Many franchises started off as small businesses.

                                                                                              And, really, while we may romanticize the notion of great food always being a winner, financially, it really is more about the marketing than it is about the actual food more often than not, which is not to say that the banh mi by NomNom isn't good or anything. But good food alone isn't enough, you need good marketing and business savy.

                                                                                              Good food is a necessary condition to success, but not a sufficient one.

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                I think a lot of these food trucks have customized their marketing to a specific audience, which might not play well in other environments. The heavy metal aesthetic of Grill Em All seems to be designed for a late night bar/club crowd, and not so much a group of Tennessee churchgoers. The same goes for the Daily Press truck, who stated somewhere that their biggest problem with the show was getting up to work in the daytime. Nom Nom, on the other hand, has demonstrated that they can sell to anybody.

                                                                                              2. re: Memphis Tim

                                                                                                The FN website gives some idea of what the challenges will be. For NY it's something about the two teams having to prepare and serve each other's specialty.

                                                                                                  1. re: Memphis Tim

                                                                                                    Trying to "reply" to Memphis

                                                                                                    Truck stop "balanced" it out with 10 minutes to go.

                                                                                                    1. re: Memphis Tim

                                                                                                      Why would it seem unfair to Nom Nom with a Grill 'Em All win?

                                                                                    1. Truck stop tonight looked like a "fix" to keep it "anybodies game"