Monday, September 2, 2013

Great Food Truck Race: Potatoes in Pocatello

As a big potato fan, I was looking forward to seeing what the trucks would come up with to use a lot of them. I must say, I was largely unimpressed, and the only dish I would have been excited to try was Tikka Tikka Tacos'. On the flip side, the lack of potatoes (and other starches) in the dishes earlier in the weekend was almost unfair. Generally, I do not have problems with the tricky challenges that are easier on some trucks than others, but after the teams have already shopped for a certain menu, it seems particularly rough. Of course, maybe I'm just a carb fiend, so I'm biased. I'm actually really looking forward to how things will go in South Dakota... the smaller cities tend to be more interesting, I think.

Remaining Trucks:
Bowled and Beautiful, Fresh California Bowls, Los Angeles. Heather, Liza, and Jess are single moms who met in culinary school and are out to prove it's never too late to follow your dreams.

Philly's Finest Sambonis, serving Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks, Philadelphia. Childhood BFFs Erik, Joe, and Chris have come together after Erik had a bad car accident that ruined his career as an electrician.

The Slide Show, Gourmet Burgers and Fries, West Hollywood, CA. Trained chefs Das, Ahren, and Maurice are trying something new, as Das previously had a restaurant after appearing on another Food Network series. It was a dream, but he had to close it.

Tikka Tikka Taco, Indian Street Food, St. Louis. Brothers Mike and Shaun work with their uncle, Sam. One of the brothers is a veteran.

Aloha Plate, Authentic Hawaiian Cuisine. Brothers Adam and Lanai, plus friend Shawn, are from a remote Hawaiian island and want to share their food. Adam went to culinary school, thanks to a benefactor whose life he saved.

The Frankfoota Truck, Gourmet Hot Dogs, Brooklyn. Friends Dana, Victoria, and Mirlinda are running this one. Their goal is to just beat one team per city to move on.

The Great Food Truck Race "A Pocatello Is All About Potatoes, You Dig?" (S04E03): With only 55,000 residents in Pocatello, the trucks must change prices, strategy, marketing, and menus. They work with $300 in seed money, but because Tyler wants the trucks to earn their customers, he soon issues a Speed Bump that won't allow the trucks to sell anything high-starch, like bread, rice, pasta, corn, potatoes. [that really sucks. what a rough challenge!] They get five minutes to finish sales before donating all of those items to a food bank.

Later, the Truck Stop stops the ban on starches, but the teams must serve potatoes in every dish, AND they must dig up the Russets themselves. [I can't say I have ever dug for potatoes, but it certainly doesn't look fun.] Fortunately, they met at a potato farm earlier, so everyone knows where to head. Each team needed to extract as many as they thought they would need to ring up $750 in sales of the potato menu. After reaching that amount, teams raced to the City Creek trailhead, where $500, $250, and $50 chips were available for their tills. [the weekend-long total of over $14,000 total was insane!]

Bowled and Beautiful head to the Farmers Market, where they serve nachos without the chips. They later go to a car dealership, and end the day believing that nobody could have done better. [I guess that might have been true, but that was still a bit obnoxious.] On Sunday, they set up near a burger joint on a busy road and serve stuffed potatoes in a tortilla with black beans. [they must have been better than they sounded.] They hit $750 second, but got to the trailhead first, bringing their grand total to $3,643.

Aloha Plate uses their Polynesian connections once again to sell in a bank parking lot. [apparently some Polynesian fur traders got lost in Pocatello in the 1800s?] There, they sell steak wrapped in lettuce, until the lunch rush ends and they move a short distance. However, they wind up being outside the city limits for three hours before Tyler notifies them, so they're docked $50/hr. [I was surprised that Tyler ever told them. What happened at the three-hour mark that caused him to let the truck know?] So, they move back to the bank, which is where they head on Sunday as well. [really? aren't banks typically closed on Sundays, especially in a smaller city?] They serve a potato cake with steak and dressing and hit $750 first, though they get to the trailhead second. Even with a $150 fine, they finish with $2,744.

Tikka Tikka Taco worries about using potatoes in their food, but sell pretty well at the Farmer's Market. They invited the Philly guys to join, but they were already headed there. However, this set up a nice partnership for Sunday, where they scored the Philly guys a spot with them near a Middle Eastern spice shop. The menu includes a dish of fresh potato chips with spinach, chicken, feta, raita, and cilantro. [I'd give this a try!] Their earnings total $2,339.

The Slide Show does meatballs and bunless sliders at the Farmer's Market before moving to a bar downtown. On Sunday they park in front of a discount department store, serving bacon and chicken hash with closeslaw. [I just can't get on board with most of their offerings.] They finish with $2,004.

Philly's Finest Sambonis think meat, cheese, and bread will go over well with the blue collar folks, until they can't find sub rolls anywhere! [I can relate. Having lived in seven cities in four states on both coasts, there are a lot of items I used to take for granted that take me time to find acceptable replacements.] They manage to find sub rolls at the Farmer's Market, which is where they sell. They even make the best of the no-starch rule and offer a bring-your-own-bread deal. [I was surprised this wasn't highlighted more in the end... I found it pretty creative!] When the Market dies down, they head downtown near some bars and invite Tikka Tikka to join. On Sunday they hit a sign with their truck and wind up losing $500 to the cost of the property owner's deductible. [not the first time this has happened. or the second.] They stick with simple cheesesteak fries and hit $750 third. Unfortunately, they also arrive third, so they go from 3rd place to 5th, with $1,912. [haha: "Any more mistakes you're getting punched in the face. New team rule."]

The Frankfoota Truck head to a Motocross event to sell hot dogs on skewers. [I wouldn't buy one but it was a decent idea.] They think it allows them to sell more, as people aren't filling up. [not bad logic.] When the crowd dies down, they call Aloha to join forces, but wind up getting slapped with a $50 fine for selling outside the city limits for an hour. This means that they only netted $17 there. After re-stocking, they decide to park at a grocery store. Sunday they choose to sell at a hardware store, where they feature a menu including potato salad with capers and pesto. [I'm not sure if that sounds good or not... also, there wasn't much of a report as far as how good the hardware store selection was.] They are the last team to hit $750, and their total sales is only $1,668, sending them back to Brooklyn.
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Next Stop: Rapid City, South Dakota, just under 700 miles away.
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