Friday, September 23, 2011

The Great Food Truck Race: Atlanta, GA

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I continue to be addicted to this show. I absolutely avoid possible spoilers on who got sent home, and I generally don't care about spoilers on television shows. Or movies, for that matter. LoL. I'm a little sad that the show is winding down now, but I hope we get another installment! And I hope that they come to a city near me next time, hehe!

A reminder of who is left:
The Lime Truck: From Orange County, California and using that to inspire their food. The team wears lime-colored headbands. They tend to be ingredient-driven, meaning they change their menu based on where they are.
Hodge Podge: From Cleveland, Chris started a food truck because he saw one and knew he could do better. His teammates are his sister and his girlfriend. They just throw food together, really.
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. They hired a trained chef and voila!

The Great Food Truck Race
"Midnight Truck to Georgia" (S02E06): This week, in Atlanta, they get $500 to start with. The Truck Stop is pretty plain and simple - they have to use peanuts and peaches (things Georgia is known for) in one dish. They only have an hour, and they have to procure the peaches and peanuts on the own. The rest of the ingredients are in picnic baskets, and the first team to bring back the peaches & peanuts gets to pick their basket... each contains different items! [oooh. tricky... I like it! And everything looks so amazing in presentation!] A local restauranteur judges, and decides that Roxy's wins, for the second week in a row! They win a giant gold peach - it's worth $1,000 of sales for the weekend. [good prize, and I think they'll need it..] The Speed Bump, coming Sunday morning, knocks Jason, Chris, and Mark (the head chefs on each truck) off for the day, with passes to go see the High Museum of Art. [awesome. I will likely be in Atlanta for the first time next summer, so now I know a definite spot to go!] They get 5 minutes to give info to their teams, then they have to leave... no calling, texting, etc. all day. We see them enjoying art together, making food jokes. [though they don't make any guesses as to how their respective teams are doing without them, which I would have enjoyed hearing about.] The guys return with less than an hour left to sell, and they can help a little. At Elimination, the combined earnings are over $24,000. Poor Roxy's loses, with $7,121 (including the $1,000 bonus). Roxy's is very nice as they leave, admitting that the Lime Truck guys are good people, despite the issues they had with them at the beginning of the competition. [I'm sad to see Roxy's go, but from the beginning I though that only a mainstream truck would pull it out in the end. So, between comfort food and fancy-pants gourmet next week... should be interesting! I think that the fact it's in Miami will give Lime a bit of an edge... what do you think?]

Hodge Podge: For the Truck Stop, they get peaches and peanuts at a restaurant... though the peaches come in cobbler form... and since they're the third group back, they get no choice in basket. I'm not sure if this would have helped them, though, as Chris seems to be able to do anything with what he's given. Their ingredients do include scallops, duck breast, and brown sugar. In the past, they've gotten screwed for trying to do too many things, so Chris focuses on just seared scallops with a peanut crust, beef carpaccio, and a peach puree sauce (made from the cobbler!). The judge decides that it's overly sweet and needs a pinch of salt, but he likes the simplicity of the dish. For Atlanta, Chris wants to do an upscale menu - use ribeye and prawns to make it a little more of an expensive menu. Chris also really wants to beat out Roxy's, claiming that all they are is cheese on bread. [c'mon now, Chris. They're doing some fancy stuff. They don't throw truffle oil around like you do, but they're not using processed cheese food, either.] They call Atlantic Station, a large shopping center, and get a Saturday-exclusive opportunity. [nice! and Chris isn't the one making the call for once, either!] They do some hardcore advance prep, as well as taking advance orders. Their menu has items like crab dip, shrimp & grits, ribeye tacos, and truffle tater tots. [I can hear my husband saying from a thousand miles away that he wants it all, haha.] After 30 minutes of strong selling, they're convinced they're caught up to the $1,000 lead that Roxy's won. [$1,000 in half an hour? Say you make 25 sales... they'd need to be for $40 each. not impossible, but it really sounds pretty unlikely... who buys three or four entrees at a food truck?] The mayor even eats there. [I don't know if this did anything for them, though. If I heard that my mayor ate at a specific place, I don't know that it would make me any more likely to eat there...] They're selling like crazy, and they make a joke about how they're Korilla without stuffing the box. [hahahahahaha!] They know that they killed it on the first day. On Sunday, they hit up the Virginia Highlands area, where some other food trucks hang. After the Speed Bump, Chris tells the girls to keep the menu simple... he tells them what to make, some basic instructions, and to take off shrimp & grits off the menu. [honestly, I'm semi-worried about this team without him! but at least the girls don't have to create a new menu or anything!] The girls are nervous, they have a long line, and they think they'll lose... but soon become impressed with one another. Their line eventually fades and they go set up near Roxy's. [one thing I can't stand about the Hodge girls? they're always trying to steal business from other people!] To drum up customers, they tell anyone in Roxy's line that they'll take off $2 if they go to Hodge Podge instead. [wow, that does NOT sound like a good business practice to me!] They only get 1 customer by doing this. When Chris returns, he tries to bring in some business from people nearby. They manage to come out on top - first place with $8,937.  

The Lime Truck:
  For the Truck Stop, they get dried peaches and get to pick their basket second. They have shrimp and ribeye to work with, so they do peanut-style curry shrimp with peach ribeye - a surf 'n' turf idea. [sounds like it would work...] They hydrdate the peaches in bourbon, then flambe to get out the excess alcohol. [again, sensible.] But, they don't have peaches and peanuts in the same bite so it doesn't work for the judge. [meh. I guess. I thought it was a fine way to do it.] For being in Atlanta, they want to go with a more basic, easy-to-execute menu, but with a southern twist with things like asparagus, grits, and bbq.They talk to the owner of the still-in-development Ibiza food truck and buy ingredients directly from them (for $375). They head to Colony Square, where there is a lot of traffic. They open almost immediately, but can't offer the whole menu for 20-30 more minutes. [I'd be the customer who'd be pissed if they could only serve certain things... then don't list everything yet, guys!] They do crab and bay scallop ceviche and ahi tuna nachos (with fresh wasabi), among other things. After the lunch rush ends, they move... but keep coming upon dead spots, so they end up back where they were after an hour of searching around. They're pretty worried after the first day, but they lock down the Atlantic Station exclusivity for Sunday. After the Speed Bump, they're not worried since they have a second chef on-board, which neither of the other trucks have. With Jason gone, the other guys talk about how calm the truck is. [hahaha. I didn't really picture Lime being aggressive inside.] With three hours to go, business is getting slow... but they finish in second place with $8,447.

Roxy's Grilled Cheese: With the Truck Stop, they buy peaches and peanuts from a bar for $10. This fast-and-furious way to do that gets them first choice at the baskets of ingredients They choose one that has lemons, lamb chops, mushrooms, and couscous. So, they throw together a peanut-crusted lambchop with couscous, portabella mushroom, carmelized peaches, and fresh peach gastrite (? gastric? I don't know the terminology), which uses sherry vinegar and peaches in the sauce. The judge thinks that the dish is missing richness with the acidity, and could use some more color, but awards them the best dish anyway. As for Atlanta, they are looking forward to the different neighborhoods and plan to use marscapone, foie gras, and oysters, among other things. They set-up on Saturday near where a large event will be going on later in the day, so they prep intensely. They have a sandwich on the menu that features 18-month aged cheddar, foie gras, bacon and caramelized peaches. [I'd try that!] They also have panko-fried oysters, in a play on Oysters Rockefeller - Oysters Roxyfeller. [cute, love it!] Finally, a marscapone creme brulee. [this seems a little odd to me but maybe I don't have the palate for it.] They don't have a lot of traffic, so they move to midtown, but still don't find a crowd. Eventually it picks up, and they're getting large orders, like 20 sandwiches in an order! [I don't see how this happens. Unless I'm just really out of the loop on who goes to food trucks!] They're pissed about their crappy location, so on Sunday they head to the Virginia Highlands area for the food truck meetup there. After the Speed Bump, Mark tells the guys to communicate, work hard, and switch a sauce when they run out of one. The brothers stay focused and work together. They run out of foie gras before the day is over, though. [I think location killed them. They never even talked about trying for exclusivity on that one shopping district. And Atlanta has sports, why not set-up near a stadium? oh well, sad for Roxy's. But if I get to Boston and they're still around, I'm TOTALLY finding them for lunch!]

This coming Sunday, for the finale: Miami, FL!
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