The Great Food Truck Race premiere recap: Where’s the profit?


The Great Food Truck Race premiere on the Food Network taught the seven teams that running a food truck isn’t as easy as it seems.

In The Great Food Truck Race premiere recap, the seven teams set out on a Wild West quest to win the big prize. Even though these teams might have cooking experience, running a food truck isn’t just about the food. If you can’t make a profit, the food truck isn’t going to be successful.

Since this season is all about the Wild West, the episode opens with Tyler Florence and the teams on a ranch. The teams learn that they must fill a container with fresh squeezed orange juice. But, that juice can’t have any seeds.

Buns ‘n’ Thighs , Chop Shop, Heroes On A Half Shell, Just Wing It, Mobile Moo Shu, New England Grill, and Sassy Soul team members in front of their trucks with host Tyler Florence, as seen on The Great Food Truck Race, Season 9.

With no tools, the teams must use their strength to power through the challenge. With big hands and muscles, New England Grill blasts through the first challenge, gets their keys and heads off. But, the other teams struggled.

For Buns N’ Thighs, they keep struggling with seeds. Their container had so many seeds and they were in last place. It makes me wonder, how did they squeeze the oranges? If they had squeezed the oranges with the cut side up, there would have been less seeds in the pitcher.

While this challenge seemed silly, there is a point to it. The challenge represents efficiency in a food truck. In a cramped space, food trucks may not have special tools for tasks. Still, food prep and service must be done quickly. Understanding how to complete a task efficiently is a component to a successful food truck.

As the food trucks take off to Los Angeles, the teams must choose a signature dish to sell in LA. Listening to the teams’ dishes, they seem complicated, almost too complicated for a food truck. For example, Sassy Soul was selling a dish in an actual pineapple. While this dish looks pretty, it isn’t practical in this challenge.

Heroes On A Half Shell team members, Clinton Sheron, Danni Sheron, and Donna Sheron, as seen on The Great Food Truck Race, Season 9 photo by Food Network

Also, Heroes on the Half Shell didn’t pick a signature dish that people wanted. Sure, the mom likes her tuna sandwich, but that’s a hard sell from a food truck. These teams need to know their audience. Of course, it is the team’s signature dish. But, if no one buys it, that team won’t be successful.

I do give the Heroes on the Half Shell credit for trying to see chocolate covered strawberries for $1. At least that improvise brought them some money. Why didn’t other teams think to offer a combo meal, drink or something else? Sometimes a small, easy dish can be quite a seller.

Another observation from The Great Food Truck Race premiere, the teams don’t seem to understand the “selling” aspect of a food truck. I can’t tell if the teams just randomly chose locations, prices or dishes. The key to doing well is picking a dish that can be profitable. Did any team successfully do that?

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  • Of course, each episode has a twist. On the second day, Tyler hosted a meat auction. The teams had to bid on cuts of meat. That meat would be used to create a special dish, which would be sold for three hours at $12 a dish. The winning team would get extra money in their till.

    Again, this challenge was part strategy. If a team is supposed to make a profit on selling the beef dish, they should over spend at the auction. For example, New England Grill spent $100 on their meat. With the price set, they needed to sell a lot of sliders to make a profit.

    Actually, Buns N’ Thighs were smart about this challenge. Since they didn’t bid on a cut of meat, they received meat of Tyler’s choosing. Working with ox tail isn’t easy, but all their sales were profit. Of course, they still had to sell food.

    Watching The Great Food Truck Race premiere, it was clear that the business aspect for the food trucks was going to be all their downfall. Hopefully, this first episode is a huge wake up call for the teams. People aren’t just going to flock to your food truck because you’re on a Food Network show.

    Granted, selling in Los Angeles is probably a hard first task. A small town automatically has a built in audience. Those people are ready and willing to buy the food. In this episode, the teams needed to be savvy and no one was.

    At the end of episode, Tyler revealed some dismal results. Only one team made a profit. Mobile Moo Shu made a total of $272. $200 of that money came from winning the beef auction challenge.

    Contestants running Chops’ Shop prep their first service with Elote bowls, Chicken Creole Tacos, Texas Star Nachos, and Chicano Chimi Rolls on the menu, as seen on The Great Food Truck Race, Season 9. photo by Food Network

    Tyler reminded all the teams that challenges will be so important in this competition. That extra money or advantage can push a team into the next week. Wonder what else will happen this season.

    As for the other teams, everyone else was in the negative column. That’s right, not another single team made a profit. No business can survive by losing money. If this scenario happens again, all those teams should go home. Granted this scenario would end the show, but it is real life. A business cannot survive in the red.

    The bottom two teams were Chop Shop and Sassy Soul. It seems that Chop Shop knows how to cook. It wasn’t clear if they didn’t sell or they didn’t price well. Overall, they weren’t featured a lot in this episode.

    With their truck problems, selling problems and other issues, Sassy Soul was the first team to leave. Tyler didn’t reveal what their final lost total was. I’m pretty sure it was a lot. The thing that bothered me was the team’s attitude when they left. They were happy to have had this experience. I would have thought that someone who wanted to win would have fought harder, prepared better or was more upset. Then again, maybe it was just editing.

    In the next episode, the food trucks head to Las Vegas. Hopefully, more than one food truck will turn a profit. But, they better get a crash course in food truck 101.

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    After watching The Great Food Truck Race premiere, which team do you think has a strong chance of winning? Only one team will win the $50,000 prize. Let’s hope it goes to a team that can at least make a profit.