The Great Food Truck Race recap: Rolling in Vegas winnings


This week’s Great Food Truck Race recap has the food trucks finding profits in the city of glitz and glamour. Can this week put them on a roll?

The Great Food Truck Race recap starts with a stern warning from Tyler Florence. After last week’s dismal showing and lack of profits, these food trucks need a reality check. While this experience might be a Food Network competition show, there is a real world component to it. Even if the food truck wins the prize money, they want a successful food truck. No one wants to see all that prize money quickly disappear because of poor business decisions.

Before talking about the Shrimp and Glitz episode specifics, these teams need a reality check. The first episode was really sad. I would be willing to bet that so many people would jump at the chance to participate in this Food Network competition. For the teams to be unprepared for the selling aspect of a food truck is wrong. Of course, each of these trucks should know how to cook or to prepare a signature dish, but they need to understand buying, selling and pricing. Don’t take a spot from a team that really wants a food truck business just so that a team can have a fun experience.

Host Tyler Florence, as seen on The Great Food Truck Race, Season 9. photo provided by Food Network

Now that the soapbox commentary is over, let’s get back to this week’s Great Food Truck Race recap for the second episode. The first challenge had the food truck teams creating a dish featuring shrimp. A popular ingredient on Las Vegas seafood buffets, this challenge requires the food trucks to be thoughtful cooks. Everyone can cook their signature dish, but can they incorporate a new ingredient?

The food trucks who have more cooking experience did well in this challenge. Without completely re-inventing themselves, the food trucks should have been able to use shrimp easily. The biggest struggle for almost all the teams was the prep. Peeling and prepping shrimp can take forever.

But, this challenge wasn’t just about making a delicious dish. The dish needed to appeal to customers. With everyone parked in the same area and selling a shrimp dish, the teams needed to stand out. Whether it was being the first truck to sell or the most creative dish, a boring fried shrimp dish wasn’t going to win the challenge.

The team winning the shrimp challenge was Mobile Moo Shu. These girls seem to have a great grasp on the business concept and the competition. Their shrimp taco was smart. It is approachable for a variety of guests, it was a fairly easy dish to prep and they priced it well. More importantly, they were the only team to sell out. While the team thought that this scenario was worrisome, selling out can be a good thing. It shows that the dish itself was a hit. Maybe their portion size was off, but they proved that they could sell.

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

One team really concerns me. Chop Shop has some great dishes. For example, their shrimp etouffee served over a crepe sounded amazing. The problem is that their prep time was way too long. If the dish can’t be made quickly, it probably shouldn’t be on a food truck. There is a big difference between working in a big restaurant and working in a food truck.

As the winner of the first challenge, Mobile Moo Shu received a special parking spot for the second challenge. Location is key for a food truck’s success. The food truck needs to be visible to bring in customers who want to eat. If people don’t know about the food truck, the team can’t sell food.

Looking at this episode, the emphasis was on the business side of a food truck. Tyler Florence and Elizabeth Blau stopped by each food truck to provide advice. From a signature dish’s flavors to the dish’s price, this type of advice is key to success. The food trucks who can set themselves apart with food, price and selling will be a top team.

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  • Overall, the second week saw the teams do better in this Great Food Truck Race recap. The teams are starting to see how to budget their seed money with sales. The signature dishes seem to be coming together.

    One big aspect seemed to set this week’s top teams apart, location. The teams who had good selling locations did well. More importantly, the teams that leveraged social media and their connections were able to succeed.

    It was interesting to see some of the teams using social media to draw in guests. Who hasn’t seen a mouthwatering picture on Instagram which drew them to a restaurant? It is the new way to find a new restaurant, chef or food trend. Given the scenario that these food trucks have no following, social media is key for their sales.

    Why hasn’t each food truck taken pictures of their signature dishes and put them on social media? Maybe there are some Food Network competition rules that the food trucks have to follow. Still, these teams need to think smarter, not harder.

    Also, why hasn’t Just Wing It used their appearance on Worst Cooks in America to their advantage? Even something as simple as Worst to First could bring people to the truck just to try it or to talk to them. Anything to set themselves apart can be the difference between going home and moving onto the next city.

    This week’s winning team was Buns N’ Thighs. They were smart by leveraging contacts with local food trucks to understand the local food truck scene. With a built in audience who like food trucks, they were able to build a great amount of sales.

    Overall, this week’s challenge truly focused on location. The teams with a good location did well. Chop Shop and Heroes on a Half Shell struggled. If a team spends half of their selling time searching for a selling location, they are at a huge disadvantage.

    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

    The two bottom teams were Chop Shop and Heroes on a Half Shell. Chop Shop struggled because they spent hours searching for a parking spot. It doesn’t matter how delicious the food tastes if people can’t buy the food. This team cannot spend hours driving around, especially when their food prep is laborious.

    Chop Shop has some amazing food. Even Tyler commented on how good the food tastes. But, if this team doesn’t get the business side of the food truck in check, they will be going home.

    Heroes on a Half Shell don’t really seem to know what they are doing. Hero sandwiches sound like a good selling point, but the food truck lacks direction. While using the left over shrimp is smart, they should have used it in a sandwich. Also, selling dessert isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but they should have made it a combo.

    Overall, Heroes on a Half Shell seemed like they were in this competition more for the experience than to win. Personally, I wouldn’t order a tuna melt from any food truck. It is just one of those dishes that doesn’t really excite me. Which would you choose, tuna melt or loaded fries? It sounds like an obvious choice.

    In this week’s Great Food Truck Race recap, Heroes on the Half Shell was the team sent home. Truthfully, I was surprised that Chop Shop squeaked it out. They might be the next team to go if they don’t get their act together.

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    What do you think of this season of The Great Food Truck Race? Do you think that a few trucks have an advantage in the competition? Which food truck would you want to try?