The third season of The Great Food Truck Race hit the road tonight in Los Angeles with eight new teams — and not one of the teams had ever worked, cooked or driven in a food truck up until this point. With a grand prize of $50,000 on the line and the chance to keep their truck, each team will try to pull out all their tricks to stay in the game, but ultimately, one truck must go each week. Every Sunday night, FN Dish will bring you exclusive exit interviews with the latest Food Truck contestants to get the boot.
This week, Under the Crust seemed to face one challenge after another with their equipment, not to mention choosing poor locations and the basics of just getting to know their truck for the first time — and unfortunately, Hannah, Sheri and Gary had to give the keys of their truck back to Tyler.
What are two things about operating a food truck that surprised you the most?
The actual operation of the food truck was much more intuitive than I thought it would be. Once we learned what equipment was on the truck and, significantly, what was not, we had no problems working in a confined space. There was plenty of space to do what we needed as a team. I was also surprised at how creative we were in coming up with new menu items that utilized the equipment we did have, despite it not being what we were used to, to say the least. Our product was very clearly defined in our business as sweet and savory mini pies. By having to come up with different approaches to our product, we created items that we now still use and really like.
Do you think not selling the first day was your biggest downfall? Or the locations you chose?
Of course I think it would have helped to sell on the first day, but that was not the most detrimental of our problems. We also had a lot of trouble with the equipment in our truck. We had fire and floods, flat tires and more plumbing problems that got in our way on that first day. I think that the biggest stumbling block was that we had very little knowledge of how the day-to-day food truck business worked.
I was also under the impression that a truck had to have permission to park in any given place, so I spent a lot of time calling to try to secure permission to be at certain venues. We should have done right away what we realized later and simply parked at a destination and asked questions after.
I was getting warmer when I called the Kogi BBQ truck to go where they were, but the only phone number I found was an office number. They were kind enough to call back on Monday to say they would help anyway they could, which was very sweet — we would have learned a lot. If only I had a Twitter account (sigh).
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that the Speed Bump was the best part of the challenge. Did you feel that way because they took finding a prime location out of the equation?
The Speed Bump was absolutely the best part of the challenge for us, because it put us where the action was — exactly what we were trying to find all along. If we had done the same amount of business in the other locations that we did on Hollywood Boulevard, we would have done enough business to not be eliminated.
What do you consider the most important tool in the food truck business: the perfect location or a mouthwatering mobile menu? Why?
The most important component is, by far, location. That is not to say that good food isn’t what everyone strives for, but if you have hungry people in a busy location, and you have hamburgers or hot dogs to sell, they are going to buy them. If you have gourmet food that is to die for, but are in a quiet location, well, we know how that goes. A good location means customers, and you have no business without customers, that’s for sure!
What’s your ultimate pie creation you’ve yet to release to the public?
Now, keep in mind that I’m not the chef, but I am one of the original “foodies,” before that word came into existence, so my choice would be a savory pie with foie gras mousse, layered (twice) with shaved truffles and topped with a thin final layer of fig and balsamic jam. (I can just picture Hannah rolling her eyes at me right now!)
Hannah adds that her ultimate pie would be a “savory pie based on a classic meal. It has a shredded duck confit filling with roasted baby vegetables. It would have a flaky top crust and would be served with a fig and port wine reduction.”
Under the Crust was a business you dreamed up with your fiancé, Keith, who passed away from cancer. Tyler and the show were so inspired by your story that he donated $5,000 to the American Cancer Society in his name. Hannah, do you still plan on opening your own food truck?
I still cannot seem to express just how much Tyler’s generous donation meant to me. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it and I am beyond thankful for it. Even when Keith was really sick, he was always worried about other people and never himself. He always said how if he got better, that he would want to counsel other young people who were diagnosed with cancer. I know that Tyler’s donation would have meant the world to him. I am still planning on opening a food truck of some sort in the near future. Being eliminated first really hit me hard, but it doesn’t take away the fact that I love what I do and I really did love working on the truck. I wish I had been able to move on in the competition, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.