Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Great Food Truck Race: Denver

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

First, a reminder of who is left this season:

The Lime Truck: From California and using that to inspire their food, Jason, Daniel, and Jesse, who wear lime-colored headbands. They are ingredient-driven, meaning they change their menu based on where they are.
Seabirds: Stephanie, Thea, Nicole from California. Vegan food truck - no meat, no dairy, no eggs.
Cafe Con Leche: Gabriel, Maria, and Frankie - lifelong friends based in Van Nuys (part of Los Angeles). They have a Cuban food truck, including Cuban coffee.
Hodge Podge: From Cleveland, Chris started a food truck because he saw one and knew he could do better. They throw food together. His sister Katie and his girlfriend Jacquelyn are the other members of the team.
Roxy's Grilled Cheese: Brothers James and Mike, from Boston, have a grilled cheese truck because they couldn't afford to open a grilled cheese bar. Marc is their experienced chef who makes it have a gourmet flair.
Korilla BBQ: Eddie, Paul, and Steve are friends from Columbia University who couldn't get jobs, so they started this food truck in Queens. They serve Korean food that's fused into other things, like burritos.

The Great Food Truck Race "Rocky Mountain Highs and Lows" (S02E03): Good Morning America is present, taping a segment. The Truck Stop is having the teams go out and dig up mushrooms, then create a dish using them. There's also a trunk full of ingredients - each team gets 50 minutes to forage (teams have to stay together while they do so), plan, and cook a dish, using identical boxes of ingredients. The winner will get an interview on the local ABC affiliate to get the word out about their truck. A local chef judges, choosing Lime Truck as a winner. [I didn't see that coming. I thought they were in the bottom half, really, going off of the judge's comments.] Everyone gets NO SEED MONEY this time, but Lime gets $200. "Beg, borrow, but don't steal." [hahaha.] The Speed Bump is delivered by John Elway, who tells the teams that they can only have a single person run the truck for the rest of the day. The six trucks bring in more than $30,000 combined. And, a difference of only $87 separates 5th place from 6th! [1st and 2nd aren't that far apart, either. I like a close race!]

The Lime Truck: They do appetizers with the mushrooms - one with scallops and one with beef - poor use of truffle oil, according to the judge. They're worried about how to change their strategy from Salt Lake. [these guys seem to excite people, but I just don't get the appeal, I guess. Though maybe it's related to the fact that I'm just not a California fan and that's what informs their menu... and probably attitude.] They are excited to team up with Hodge Podge because their foods don't really compete. [um... what's in it for them?] They even mention Hodge Podge in the interview! [that was really very nice of them.] They go to a restaurant wholesale shop to get food, so that takes a while and they end up being the last truck to open. Their menu is pretty expensive as well. [sorry, I'm not paying $11 to eat off a truck! you?] They go to Washington Park on Sunday. Jason takes the lead as the single on their truck, and tries to take the entire line's orders at once to make a lot of one thing at a time to keep rolling quickly. [this would have made me leave the line... or perhaps just switch to wanting whatever he was going to cook first. I don't have a lot of patience when lines aren't handled in the order in which one arrived.] They come in first with $6,919. [heh. guess it worked out in the end!]
Korilla BBQ: They are a bit hesitant about the foraging process. They do a soup with scallops, onions, tofu, and mushrooms. They call the most popular restaurant in Denver's food truck. They get a long line pretty quickly. They have high hopes for Sunday, too. Paul takes the lead as the single on their truck, through rock-paper-scissors. [I think this is the only truck on the show where any of them could seriously be the lead. That's gotta count for something!] They move after a while, hitting up the brewery where Cafe Con Leche is. [didn't they used to care about infringing on others' territory?] They come in second with $6,831.
Hodge Podge:  They do a type of tostados with the mushrooms. They call up their purveyors just like in past cities. They call Lime and ask to team up, and end up opening an hour before Lime, getting them a nice start. On Sunday, they are still teamed with Lime, and both head to Washington Park. Chris takes the lead as the single on their truck. [this was a no-brainer. The other girls don't do much anyway.] They come in third with $6,118.
Roxy's Grilled Cheese:  They do a mushroom-stuffed bison burger, but it was too light on the mushroom. They know they need to be faster and want to try an assembly line. They have a hookup at a local restaurant and get an IOU until Sunday night. They're in Washington Park on Saturday where there's a "Curry Scurry" going on. They're using softer cheese to make them faster. [makes sense. I'm dying to try duck on a grilled cheese after watching them make it so many times!] They go back to Washington Park on Sunday. Marc takes the lead as the single on their truck. They move after a while, also heading to the brewery. [I KNOW there is more than one brewery in Denver, why is everyone at the same place?? or maybe it's the only one that doesn't serve food?] The end up in 4th place with $5,316.
Seabirds: They do a couscous-stuffed mushroom that needs salt and maybe a little more mushroom. They were a little cocky, thinking they were going to win hands-down. They're nervous about the lack of Vegan food in Denver. They hit an ice cream shop that has Vegan options to get a loan of $500. [wow. I wonder if that was really their best option?] They head to a craft fair and open the doors before they're completely ready. This makes them move so slowly that they have to give a couple refunds. [that SUCKS. I always thought that one of the big draws to food trucks was the quick turn-around!] They plan on some new menu items on Sunday, hoping to do better. [we don't hear much about what they changed, though. And why were they still shopping when the Speed Bump hit?!?] Raya takes the lead as the single on their truck, and waits until the truck is prepped to open. [probably a darn good idea!] They're also at Washington Park on Sunday. They switch to half-price shortly before closing. They are worried, knowing they didn't bring in the average of $5,000 They cut it close, finishing in fifth place with $3,322. 
Cafe Con Leche: They do a panini of sorts, which could have used more mushrooms. They know a Cuban restaurant in Denver and want to team-up with them. The team-up with the local restaurant is good for them since the restaurant isn't open during the daytime anyway. They buy their food from the restaurant as well. They're selling $15 sandwiches since they're the only place in the area where you can get a Cuban sandwich. [I love a good Cuban sandwich, but I don't pay $15 at a sit-down establishment... why would I pay that off a truck?? would you?] They were expecting to pay $300 for the food, and it's $384. [they didn't discuss price point AT ALL beforehand?? in that case, I'm glad they didn't get totally ripped off!] On Sunday, they set up outside a brewery that doesn't serve food. Frankie takes the lead as the single on their truck, since he's the cook. They all whine when Roxy's and Korilla show up and take some of their business. [whatever.] They go home, coming in sixth with $3,235. They think that they're going home because of the money they spent buying food from the restaurant rather than a market. [really? they're going to solely blame that??]

Next stop: Manhattan, Kansas: a college town of 52,000 people. Seabirds is already worried, and plan to play off the cute-girl aspect, since food won't be their biggest asset. 
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