In case you didn’t hear, The Great Food Truck Race was in Atlanta this past weekend for its penultimate stop. As season two of The Food Network’s street food reality series winds down, Atlanta was treated to a visit and Roaming Hunger was there to get all the dirty dirty.
TGFTR is a reality competition show that pits food trucks from all over the country against one and other. The basic format goes something like this: trucks visit city, host Tyler Florence greets them, money is dispensed for product, trucks are left to their own devices to bring in the cash.
Each truck, staffed by a chef and two helpers, has to buy their product locally, and the winner is the truck that ends up with the most cash in hand. During each episode there is always a special twist which often results in immunity or extra cash for the winner of the “food stop.” However, sometimes it’s just an attempt to screw with each teams inner chi.
While I’m not sure if we should call this a review or a preview (as the show doesn’t air until August 14th), we’ve got plenty of details for interested parties. Yes, with the help of my crack team of gorilla photographers and some grubbing on the part of yours truly, we’ve got plenty of pictures, food reviews, and show spoilers for all of y’all. We’ll cover the food and reveal the final two contestants in our follow up post, so be sure to check that out.
LAST TIME: If y’all don’t want to know what’s going to happen on this season of The Great Food Truck Race, STOP READING! If you just want to know who won and what the food was like, check out our Great Food Truck food review!
Though eight teams started, only The Lime Truck from Irvine, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese from Boston, and the Hodge Podge Truck from Cleveland showed up in Atlanta. Each truck was responsible for securing a location and purchasing their ingredients. We’re not entirely sure where The Lime Truck and Hodge Podge bought their grub, but we’ve been told they hit some of the local farmers’ markets. However, The Lime Truck utilized Phickles Pickles (@PhicklesPickles), that gourmet pickle co. from Athens, for a little extra local umph. [We heard they had problems actually selling them though] Not to be outdone, Roxy’s went strait to Tim Gaddis, Atlanta’s über cheese man from Star Provisions, for a little help in procuring top notch goods. Unfortunately, Roxy’s only utilized Gaddis/Star as a drop site and not as a consultant on ingredients.
After rolling into town midweek, things where pretty quiet until Friday. With that being said, here’s a little breakdown of each truck and what happened.
Hodge Podge Truck (RoamingHunger/facebook/twitter): The story of The Hodge Podge Truck is really the story of Dim and den Sum (website), a self-proclaimed comfort food truck that travels the streets of Cleveland. DDS head chef Chris Hodgson, a native of Cleveland, is also responsible for Hodge Podge. Though we’re not exactly sure how to categorize the food at DDS or Hodge Podge, multi-cultural comfort food seems the best modifier. Details are a little sketchy, but our understanding is that Hodge Podge was created specifically for the show.
The Lime Truck (RoamingHunger/facebook/twitter/website): Hailing from SoCal, the Lime Truck launched in June of 2010 and serves “California beach cuisine.” They are powered by Melissa’s Produce, a gourmet food warehouse out yonder, so the menu changes daily. Started by CEO Daniel Shemtob and executive chef Jason Quinn, we’re GUESSING that The Lime Truck is now a two fleet operation on account of their participation in The Great Food Truck Race. Assuming this is the case, don’t be surprised to see Lime setting up in multiple locations once the show is over.
Oh, and speaking of Quinn, the trip to Atlanta was a bit of a homecoming as he grew up in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta. His resume includes stops at Kerry Simon’s Sofitel Hotel restaurant, Restaurant Charlie Palmer, and Hanna’s Prime Steakhouse. Regardless, the dude’s got mad style (purple pants) and mad moves (as documented by the gang from Atlantic Station):
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese Truck (RoamingHunger/facebook/twitter/website): Roxy’s is the mysterious brainchild of James DiSabatino, a cheese monger marketing graduate who decided the life of dress ties wasn’t for him. We call Roxy’s mysterious because nobody knows who Roxy is or was. Launched in March of 2011, Roxy’s has garnered a bit of a cult following amongst Bostonians and Boston College students as a fixture at Cleveland Circle (if you’ve been to Beantown – you’ll know what we’re talking about).
Friday was a light workday. Beginning around noon, Tyler Florence gathered the gang up and did some shooting around Centennial Park. This is the stuff TGFTR will use for the lead part of the episode where they basically just get everything kicked off. I’m sure by now they didn’t need to be reminded of the rules (which include a maximum payment of double the price for an item and that everything must be homemade).
By early Saturday, the tweetees were clamoring for food even at breakfast time. The anticipation was further heightened by the time the trucks were scheduled to hit the town. Things got a little confusing! With Hodge Podge having secured parking at Atlantic Station, The Lime Truck at Colony Square, and Roxy’s at Piedmont Park, people were befuddled when 12:30 rolled around and there was no sign of life anywhere. Though we’re not sure what the delay was, Hodge Podge and The Lime Truck made it to their dedicated locations soon thereafter and were up and running after roughly an hour of prep time.
From the start, the Lime Truck saw a good stream of people but the real boon was at Atlantic Station. Backed by the corporate power of Atlantic Station’s marketing, a visit from 11-alive, and some lunching from Mayor Kasim Reed, Hodge Podge seemed like a never ending queue line. While we can’t confirm this, Chris Hodgson revealed that his truck set the single-day sales record on Saturday for The Great Food Truck Race.
Unfortunately, poor planning saw Roxy’s struggling for a spot. Despite plenty of opportunities to work things out with Piedmont Park officials, they were not allowed to setup at 10th and Taft. We’re not sure what exactly happened, but the bottom line is that Roxy’s couldn’t glean off the Jazz Fest crowds. Instead, they rolled over to the parking lot behind Star Bar in Little 5 Points, where they had planned to be that evening. A Sahara-like location, the truck eventually ended up on Peachtree and 16th in hopes of salvaging the day.
On Sunday, we finally got the wrench. A few weeks back, while the show dropped in on Denver, the challenge saw each truck’s chef swimming in the shark infested waters all by themselves. Their two helpers were given a mandatory work furlough. Atlanta was payback, whereby the chefs were forced into a day of rest, relaxation, and sightseeing. That would probably account for Tyler Florence’s appearance in twitter’s version of “Where’s Waldo.”
Still, the Lime Truck settled in at Atlantic Station, and by all accounts and by our own eyes, things seemed pretty steady there. We’re not particularly sure of any notable drama, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any.
Meanwhile, Roxy’s and Hodge Podge spent most of the day fighting for attention in close proximity to one and other. The battle ground was Virginia-Highland, where Hodge Podge put their foot down in the parking lot across from Ace Hardware. With rumors of free beer and confusing support from Atlanta’s own Yumbii and Tex’s Taco, it was a cluster fudge. No beer was a pouring, and people seemed baffled by the fact that Yumbii and Tex’s were there but not serving. We must admit, we’re not sure why people were so confused by the show of moral support; but alas, long lines and even longer waits, complicated by a heavy food shortage, saw Hodge Podge’s crowd all but non-existent by late afternoon. The saving grace was the King of Pops, which handily and happily seems to be the best thing about street food to roll thru or show up in our fare city. They were slinging pops, but might have made their biggest impression by holding onto some tots! Witness and concur! 🙂
Meanwhile, Roxy’s finally seemed to get their groove going by setting up shop in ViHi’s “downtown,” smack dab in front of Fontaine’s Oyster House. Though it’s possible that they moved, we’re pretty sure they were there the entire day. Considering the line seemed to stay at least 10-deep throughout the afternoon, King of Pops had a cart helping to keep people cool, and Atlanta’s best known celebrity chef was around (one Richard Blais sans 106,000 of his closest friends), it seems that Roxy’s really did a lot to overcome Saturday’s debacle.
Activity dwindled by the end of the day, though Hodge Podge moved their depleted inventory a few hundred yards away from Roxy’s in a real attempt to drum up the competition level. But according to one of our photographers, that may not have generated much business.
So with all that in the bag, come back in just a short bit to see who put out the best food and who ultimately made it to the finals in …
Postal Scriptation: be sure to check out all the photos from our Great Food Truck Race Photo Collection