Monday, September 5, 2011

The Great Food Truck Race: Manhattan, KS

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. The team wears lime-colored headbands. They are ingredient-driven, meaning they change their menu based on where they are.
Seabirds: From California. Vegan food truck - no meat, no dairy, no eggs.
Hodge Podge: From Cleveland, Chris started a food truck because he saw one and knew he could do better. They just throw food together.
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.
Korilla BBQ: Friends from Columbia University who couldn't get jobs started this food truck in Queens. They serve Korean food that's fused into other things, like burritos.

The Great Food Truck Race
"Big Bites, Little Apple" (S02E04): We're in Manhattan, KS, where Kansas State University (23,000 students) is. The Truck Stop - teams get debit cards worth $5, and have to shop, plan, and cook a dish with that money in thirty minutes. [I think the $5 part is a nice challenge, though the 30 minute thing is a little difficult - no room for error!] A local food critic judges, and decides that Seabirds win. There's an area of town called Aggieville that is filled with bars, restaurants, and bookstores. For winning, Seabirds get the option to park there all weekend - nobody else can. Also, campus is off-limits in general. This week, they're given $400 in seed money. [this intrigued me - they haven't had such a cushy start in a while!] "Word spreads fast" seems to be the motto of the episode. The Speed Bump comes very early on Saturday. Everything on the menu must be less than one dollar - for the entire weekend! [wow. that is pretty hard to work with on short notice. But awesome for the crowds!] At Elimination, the total was over $18,000 in sales.

Korilla BBQ: During the Truck Stop, their plan is to make a burger, and they spend $4.66, plus stock up on free condiments packets. "Tasty, but tired of gourmet burgers." [interesting. I think that gourmet burgers are more downplayed now, but maybe not everywhere.] They think that their flavor will hook the locals, and they hit an oriental market and spend $259. [I'm honestly surprised that there is an oriental market in town.] They complain about how unfair of an advantage that Seabirds have. They head to a park that's four blocks from Aggieville. They focus on 99-cent tacos. They think they're making the most money. [honestly, having the simple menu probably helps them a lot - that and the fact that they all do everything.] They return to the same spot on Sunday. As per their usual, they're upset when there's a breach of "food truck etiquette," this time with Hodge Podge literally taking their customers away. Steve goes out and confronts Hodge, but they still take orders. Korilla takes first place [duh] with $5,245.

Roxy's Grilled Cheese:
During the Truck Stop, they're more worried about the 30 minutes than the $5. [you know, that makes sense... until you remember that their cuisine is GRILLED CHEESE. Not souffles!] They spend $3.18 to make Croque Madame, a take on a French egg sandwich with pastrami, fried egg, cheddar cheese. "Too many tans and browns." [really? that's the big critique?] They're used to selling at Boston College, so they think they have a good angle on the college crowd. [okay, cool...] They're also looking forward to using cheaper ingredients (no duck or foie this time!). They call the market ahead of time to put in an order and get out the fastest. [good thinking!] They go to a small Christian college to sell beer-battered bratwurst with carmelized onions and cheddar, wild mushroom with baby swiss, and muenster with applewood-smoked bacon. They also tell the people in line for them that Lime thinks the town is too simple. [I agree that Lime was a bit out-of-order, but I am not a big fan of calling others out like that.] They cut the sandwiches in quarters and make grilled cheese sliders. [probably the best thing that they could have done.] They run out of ingredients and take 45 minutes to go shopping and such... 45 minutes later when they return, there's still people waiting! [when they started getting low, why not send 1 person to the store so they're never completely out of commission?] They return to the same spot on Sunday. They come in second with $5,132. [It's about freaking time that they did well! Though I must admit, I think they'll be hard-pressed to win the entire thing.] They love that they finally beat Lime.

Hodge Podge:
During the Truck Stop, they spend $3.82, using it to make fish and chips. "good sauces, crispy fish, but dish is too easy." [oh well. I have to agree a little.] They're excited about meat and potatoes... easy and cheap foods. They plan burgers, hot dogs, cheese sauce and salsa - and spend $381. They team up with Lime, and think that, with graduation, people will want to eat at the park. They are the first to open. [I'm seriously dumbfounded over how they open first all the time... Chris is the only one on this team who can cook!] After the Speed Bump, people are ordering 15-20 things. This high of an output is killing them and quality starts to suffer. [again, this is because Chris has to do everything!] They return to the same spot on Sunday. They send over a team member to take orders from people in the (longer) Korilla line. [I just sat there shaking my head at that lack of respect!] They wind up in third with $2,880.

The Lime Truck:
During the Truck Stop, they buy eggs, ricotta, and a lemon, but have to put back the lemon to hit $4.99. They do a pancake with dried cherries and a honey sauce. [um, I guess they got the dried cherries after they put back the lemon?] "pasty, gluey, too sweet, and it looks like it was made in an easy bake oven." [pretty harsh critique! though I wouldn't have wanted to eat it, either.] They've never been somewhere "this small" and want to bring in their flavors to do college food but a little more gourmet. They spend $394.20. They partner with Hodge Podge and set up at a park. They have burgers - one southwestern, one with provolone and arugula, one with coleslaw and onion rings, one is a breakfast burger with hasbrowns, bacon, and maple syrup. [gross!] They want to sell for $10-11 per burger, so the change in pricing hits them hard. They make smaller portions to deal with the cheaper prices, but also struggle with simplifying the menu. When they're out of food, they go restock with mac & cheese, turkey tacos, and lots of fried foods. [fried swiss cake rolls, tho? I'm skeptical... might have to try those...] They do run out of bacon. On Sunday, the massive output is taking its toll and they worry that they'll go home because they sucked at the challenge... but they end in fourth with $2,768.

Seabirds: For the Truck Stop, they hit $5.26 and have to put something back. They do a raw chocolate cupcake with sweet bbq sauce glaze and a corn fritter. "Clever, fresh approach to a dessert." [not something I think I'd like, but whatever.] Their plan for this town is not to stress the vegan side and to push bbq sauce. [probably a good idea. Although it weirds me out when they get those scared looks on their faces when they think about how few vegans are around.] Jackfruit, avocados, and tortillas are on their shopping list... part of the plan is to turn the jackfruit into a pulled-pork style bbq sandwich with spicy coleslaw. They're also doing beer-battered avocado tacos and a spinach dip. They make half-sandwiches and tacos to deal with the price drop. People are waiting like 90 minutes in line, tho! They want to do a quicker menu so they push their jackfruit tacquitos. [good way to kill off the inventory, but doesn't really sound appetizing.] They do pancakes, hummus crostinis, and salsa on Sunday, but they're still too slow. [the claims that they just want to make the food pretty are annoying.] They worry that they're going to lose because of how slow they were on the first day... lo and behold, they do lose, only earning $2,332.

[I was surprised at the comment that Lime and Seabirds were surprisingly in the bottom two - I haven't had very high hopes for Seabirds since the beginning! Though I will agree that I'm not accustomed to seeing Lime at the bottom.]

Next Stop: Memphis, TN!

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