Great Food Truck Race: 5 Questions for 5 Trucks

While the real food truck wars rage in the city council and on the streets of Los Angeles, the Food Network hopes to cash in on the mobile eatery trend with The Great Food Truck Race, a lighthearted reality show that debuts this Sunday, August 15th.

It pits seven food trucks, three of them from Los Angeles, in a cross-country battle to prove who really rules the road. We asked five of the trucks -- Crepes Bonaparte, Grill 'Em All, Nana Queens, Nom Nom Truck and Ragin Cajun -- five questions designed to peer into their very souls, or at least pierce the Food Network's tightly controlled star-making machinery. Turn the page for our Q & A's.

Ragin Cajun - Jazmina Banionis

1. Did you have trouble sourcing any ingredients in certain parts of the country?

My goodness, yes! We could not find roux anywhere! So, it was up to us to make it from scratch. I think it's better that way anyhow.

2. What's the sexiest thing that's ever happened on your food truck?

Probably when I was enticing guys walking down the street to come to our truck, via megaphone, by saying "I see y'all looking! You know you want a taste!! Come get yourself a taste of Cajun, boys!" Of course, I meant "Taste our delicious food." It sure brought them to the truck! LOL.

3. If you had to compare your journey to a road trip movie, which movie would you pick and why?

I would say Cannon Ball Run. It's a hilarious movie with ups and downs and chaos... just like The Great Food Truck Race. All of the teams (for the most part) were friends and horsed around during the entire show.

4. What did you learn on the road that will help you change or improve your truck?

When you're selling to families, having a snack for the kiddies is always a good hook to get them to buy from the truck. In our case, I came up with making "Cajun cob corn." By finding corn on sale and using the Cajun spices we already had, we were able to add it to the menu and make a profit. We did the same with chicken wings.

5. What city's trucks would win in a food fight?

Los Angeles, no doubt about it!

Grill 'Em All (@grillemalltruck) - Ryan Harkins, Matt Chernus and Joel Brown

1. Celebrity Deathmatch: taco vs. chicken wing -- what would win?

Ryan: There are no winners in this battle. Two beautiful things like that fighting is just a total lose-lose for everyone.

2. What's the sexiest thing that's ever happened on your food truck?

Ryan: Every time Matt, Joel and I step into the beast, it's very sexy!

Joel: during a couple of the 16-hour drives Matt and I exchanged glances. Nothing came of it.

Matt: Watching Ryan and Joel cook is the epitome of sexy.

3. If you had to compare your journey to a road trip movie, which movie would you pick and why?

Ryan: National Lampoon's Vacation. We are the Griswolds.

4. Would you rather drive across the country again or try to find parking in Hollywood on a Saturday night?

Ryan: Drive across country.

5. To anyone thinking about launching a food truck: what advice would you give?

Ryan: Don't do it. There are already way too many food trucks. Death to false food trucks!

Joel: Stay away from a fusion taco menu. They're overrunning the streets.

Matt: Save some money and open up a comic book shop instead.

Nana Queens (@nanaqueens) - Janel Prator

1. What city's trucks would win in a food fight?

Of course our truck would win. But if I had to choose I'd say for sure The Comfort Truck, Chef Brian goes hard. And I'd say Grill 'Em All. They'd go heavy food metal on everybody.

2. What was the best -- and the worst -- reaction to your food from a new customer?

I think the worst reaction would have to be "Oh gosh, I can't have dairy!!!" I feel so bad that they have to miss out.

3. Celebrity Deathmatch: taco vs. chicken wing -- what would win?

Chicken wings would win hands down. Chicken wings have more heart they have more muscle. I mean, they can fly, for goodness sakes.

4. How did customers respond to your food differently in various parts of the country compared to your truck's hometown?

Customers were very surprised when they came to the truck. People have never heard of banana pudding in 10 different flavors served on a hot wings truck. So customers were very curious to try our food.

5. To anyone thinking about launching a food truck: what advice would you give?

Make sure you really put a lot of thought into your food concepts. You want to be as unique as possible, but you want to have a product that's appealing to your customers. Also, know that it's going to be TOUGH!! This business is very rewarding but you have to be ready to hustle.

 

Nom Nom Truck (@nomnomtruck) - Misa Chien

1. Did you have trouble sourcing any ingredients in certain parts of the

country?

There were no French baguettes in one of the locations. Instead we made Hawaiian sliders and just used dinner rolls. Despite that setback, we still had our highest turnout in the show yet: 30-person line all day long!

2. How did customers respond to your food differently in various parts of the

country compared to your truck's hometown?

We worked at some amazing locations, and we felt very well received in the cities we visited.

3. What did you learn on the road that will help you change or improve your truck?

It was great to test our food among different markets and demographics. It really allowed us to see where, if we wanted to expand, our food would be a hit. We also added a couple great add-ons to the menu. It really allowed us to push the envelope and put us into situations we would never be in.

4. To anyone thinking about launching a food truck: what advice would you

give?

Research. A lot. You need a strong brand, great food (and strong demand for that food, make sure that the market is not saturated) and a good business sense.

Crepes Bonaparte (@crepesbonaparte) - Matthew Meyer

1. Did you have trouble sourcing any ingredients in certain parts of the country?

We learned that Nutella is hard to find, and once we found it, many customers didn't know what it was. This was a little tough for us, since it's such a core menu item for us.

2. Celebrity Deathmatch: taco vs. chicken wing -- what would win?

Fusion taco. It's all the rage right now.

3. How did customers respond to your food differently in various parts of the country compared to your truck's hometown?

Catering trucks are not meant to drive long distances. It was one wild and crazy trip. But we really enjoyed meeting people from all over the country and would love to do it again.

4. To anyone thinking about launching a food truck: what advice would you give?

Do your research. Expect long hours. Give us a call if you need any help!


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