This past Tuesday, Food Network fans had the chance to leave a question for Tyler Florence about his new season of The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network’s Facebook page. We promised he’d answer a selection of them:
William Zoellick: How do you determine which food trucks are to compete?
Tyler: The casting process is handled by the production company in Los Angeles and they look for a good slice of an American story. This year we have trucks from New York, Miami and Cleveland — they’re all the best-of-the-best.
Tammy Sanner McCrae: How do you pick the cities you stop in?
Tyler: We didn’t want to double up on the cities we visited in the previous season, so this year we started out in Malibu, then we went to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and so on. Every season, we’re going to plot a new course across the United States with new cities.
Michelle Nichols: What are the major differences from last season?
Tyler: This season is bigger: more contestants and the grand prize has been doubled to $100,000. It’s really exciting to watch these guys compete because after watching the first season, the show has raised the bar: The competitors are better, the food is better, how they play the game is better, their strategies are better — it’s really interesting.
Carmucha Rodríguez Ramos: Tyler, what do you think is the most challenging thing a food truck can face?
Tyler: I think it’s the unknown. When we travel across the country with the groups of teams, the trucks are stripped clean except for some salt, pepper and a few spices. They’re all given the same amount of seed money to level the playing field; other than that, they don’t know where to go. They don’t have their purveyors or their customers; they have to start from scratch. Throughout the competition, they have to learn the philosophy of the local customer. To me, the hardest thing is what they don’t know.
Trish Southern McFarland: What is the cost of a fully equipped food truck?
Tyler: The lease of a food truck is approximately $800 a month. Not that many people buy food trucks; they lease them because it’s more flexible. If the truck doesn’t work out, you don’t want to be stuck with it. On top of that lease, they have to wrap the truck and install the equipment. If you want to get into the food-truck business, you’re looking at an investment of $10,000 to $15,000.
Shannon Bonner: Which city do you think has the best food trucks?
Tyler: Portland is on fire right now. Los Angeles is really exciting and Chicago is really great. It’s just become so popular — food trucks give people a sense of the work week. They start ritual trips which turn into a destination for them. I think it’s the new answer to American fast food — you know these guys just got back from the farmers’ market, you know the food is fresh, there’s a face behind the brand and they prepare it quickly. I enjoy supporting the local, hardworking entrepreneurial spirit.
Kamela Rubio-Raffin: What cuisine would you most like to see catch on in America and why?
Tyler: I really like the diversity of the whole thing because the limitations of a truck actually lend the operator some clarity on what they can produce because they can’t do a lot of things but they can do one thing really well. So it’s interesting to see how they spin off. There are a lot of great ice cream trucks coming out, Asian BBQ; exceptional grilled cheese sandwiches and tacos are great, too.
Michael Hall Tyler and Allan Ronquillo: If you could create your own food truck, what city would it be in and what would you sell?
Tyler: Well, I’m actually working on something right now — it’s a rotisserie chicken truck in California, more details to come.
Tune in to an all-new season: Sunday at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central