Nonna’s Kitchenette Says Goodbye — The Great Food Truck Race

by in Shows, October 1st, 2012

food truck teams
The third season of The Great Food Truck Race hit the road with eight rookie food trucks — and not one of the teams had ever worked, cooked or driven in a food truck up until that point. Fast forward seven weeks and this team of determined ladies can certainly say they walked away from the finale having learned the ropes of the food industry. Every Sunday we saw Nonna’s Kitchenette pull out all their team’s tricks to stay in the game, but ultimately, only one truck could win. Tonight, Nonna’s lost by just $103 and was the final team to return their keys to Tyler.

Tyler said your team is a “force to be reckoned with” and we agree. Nothing stopped you from giving it your all. What was the team’s most memorable moment of the competition?

Holding hands at eliminations and never knowing if we were going home or moving on to the next city, and then the feeling of relief after finding out from Tyler that we were safe. Winning the challenges in Arkansas and Boston were also an indescribable feeling. There was so much more at stake this season — we really had to hand in the keys to the truck that we never wanted to give back, and that was tough. Proving to ourselves that we can successfully run a food truck business, however, was a dream come true for us.

nonna's kitchenette“When you’re competing against a team like Seoul, $500 is nothing.” You said this after winning the final Truck Stop. What do you think Seoul Sausage’s secret weapon is?

We both brought the passion and drive, but Seoul was a well-oiled machine with experience and that’s tough to compete with as rookies. Seoul had a system in place and knew how to work extremely well together. We knew from day one of the competition that they were the team to beat. Our team, on the other hand, launched our business on this show. With never having worked in a professional kitchen or ever working together — as a team we are proud to say that the underdogs made it as far as we did. We had to hustle and push ourselves further than we ever imagined we could to compete with Seoul’s level of experience. Most of all we’re extremely proud of how we grew together as a team. To be standing in the finale with them was proof that if you want to find success, all you need to do is follow your dream.

Whether it was the customers waiting in line or all your fans watching on TV, I think we all wanted to try your food. What was the most popular item on the menu?

For savory, it would have to be our homemade sweet basil and fontina meatball sliders with fresh Bolognese sauce. One thing we never wanted to sacrifice on the show was the quality of the food we served. Making everything homemade was time-consuming, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. For sweet options it was our Pizzelle (Italian waffle cookie) and Gelato Ice Cream Sandwiches. Our Nonna perfected the recipe and it was one of our favorite cookies growing up. It wasn’t until Nashville that we were able to afford the press to make them fresh on our truck and it was the best thing we could have done. We paired them with locally bought vanilla bean, pistachio and hazelnut-chocolate gelato in the final cities.

Fill in the blanks:

The craziest thing that happened that people didn’t get to see on TV was how challenging it truly was to operate this business: prepping our food in 100-degree weather, facing challenges from Tyler in unfamiliar cities, being away from our families, cleaning our food truck in the middle of the night and waking up a few hours later to do it all again. We lived and breathed this competition to stay a part of it. Driving a food truck across the country when you’re only 5 feet tall and can barely reach the gas pedal is not easy, and getting the truck through some of the conditions we faced was honestly petrifying. The irony of it all is that we enjoyed every minute of it and would leave tomorrow to do it all again.

Out of the three ladies, Jessica is the comedian, Jaclyn is the loudest and Lisa is the most creative.

The best thing about being mentored by Tyler was having someone that we’ve looked up to for years and who truly believed in what we were trying to accomplish. He gave us genuine feedback on how to succeed in this business.

Can New Jersey expect a Nonna’s Kitchenette food truck in the future?

Absolutely. We came on this show as complete rookies in every aspect of this industry, without the slightest idea of how to drive and operate the truck. By the end, we became so attached to that truck that giving the keys back to Tyler was heartbreaking. We woke up with a smile on our face every day despite the breakdowns, battle wounds in the kitchen and sheer exhaustion. Having the opportunity to be a part of this show only proved more that we want to be a part of this. We’re working to find funding and negotiating sponsorship opportunities for the business. We’re aiming to launch our first truck in Los Angeles by the end of the month, with hopes to have New Jersey rolling soon after. The support that America has shown us throughout our journey has been incredible and we thank all of our fans for being a part of this.

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Comments (78)

  1. Sree says:

    Get your facts straight. This is the first time Korean truck won the race
    fair and square

  2. Jessica says:

    Thanks for everyone with love for Nonna's! We really do appreciate the support & are so happy we made it as far as we did! – Jessica from Nonna's Kitchenette!

    • Jessica says:

      I am sorry I mean thanks to everyone… ;)

    • Mark says:

      Jessica:

      Congratulations on a great run to you and to Team Nonna! You all really came a long way from novices to true food truck pros and you showed us all the meaning of hard work and teamwork! Living here in SoCal, I can't wait to meet you all and have some of those yummy meatballs and fried ravioli! Good luck and hope to see y'all soon in Cali!

      Bacci da Los Angeles!

      P.S. You're gorgeous!! :)

      • Jessica says:

        Thanks Mark! Infact if you check out our website.. Nonnaskitchenette.com you can see where we will be in SoCal! Thanks for the support & the very lovely comment!!! ;) – Jessica from Nonna's!

        • 1Dishy says:

          Jessica and the girls from Nonna's:

          Congratulations on making it so far in the race. I was behind you all the way! I too am a Jersey girl from a neighboring town. I was sad, however, to hear that you were going to move all the way to Cali to set up your food truck and hoping that it would be in Parsippany so I could stop by! If you do ultimately set up one in Jersey, let us know. I definately will stop by! Best of luck to you and the girls.

          • Jessica says:

            Thanks for the support! We hope to be in Jersey soon too but for now Cali is opened and serving if you are ever out there! ;) – Jess (Nonna's)

  3. Guest says:

    How is it no one has commented on the fact that Seoul Sausage raised their prices on "everything by a dollar" when they got into Portland. They were punished with a three hour delay going there and just happened to raise their prices by enough to edge out Nonna's. I don't feel that should have been allowed.

    • Brendan says:

      Why shouldn't that be allowed? Part of the competition is making good business decisions and setting the price-point is a part of that. I think it is pretty smart to raise your prices if the quality of the food will support it. It's called capitalism.

      The real question is why is there a truck stop at all on the last leg. No team should have that kind of advantage that close to the finish. And then to have the challenge so punitive for the loser — $500 for the winner and a 3 hour head start! I was really disappointed to see the producers make that choice, regardless of who might win it. The last leg should be about who can sell the most.

      • Susan says:

        So true Brendan! Bottom line is that it really should have been about who can sell the most. Why "punish" another team in the final competition over a lobster dish?

        But gotta give it up for the Seoul Sausage boys and their great attitudes.

        Seoul Sausage is a winner!

    • guest says:

      Are you serious? It shouldn't have been allowed? There is no law saying a business cannot raise their prices. Seoul Sausage needed to catch up because of that ridiculous punishment that they got. They were in a new city, and so they decided to raise their prices, and people were willing to pay more for their food. They have good business sense, and that is why they are the winner.

  4. Martin says:

    I hope Seoul won this fair and square but it is suspicious and I think I saw some guilt on their faces.
    I have been to Korea many times, great hardworking people with traditional value I wish we still had in the USA. But even Koreans tell me there is a tendency to cheat and cut corners.

    • Laura says:

      Leaving ethnic origins out, because this is about those 3 guys and not the entire Korean people, the looks on their faces WAS what got me thinking about cheating. Once they heard how close the tallies were, they looked worried, not happy, even the first about 30 seconds after their win was official. They should have looked overjoyed, relieved and exhausted, not concerned. They may well have been thinking about what might happen if Nonna's got a lawyer to demand a count of the receipts. If they were caught cheating, they'd be worse off than if they just came in 2nd legitimately. Who would want to sponsor their truck, then? Even banks might be reluctant to give them a loan, since such bad judgement isn't a good sign of business skills.

      • Mabel says:

        If anything points to inconsistency ..it's Nonna's tally. very suspicious that they outdid the waffle guys .last week. Heard of the Italian Mafias ? so what does it says .. don't generalized two teams to the entire Koreans or Italian origins.

        Seoul Sausage won fair and square through creative planning food and delivery . They worked hard, they drove it home . Period! Losers do not cry foul when they lose or go around posting that winner cheat.

      • ann says:

        give it up! Are you some kind of mind reader or someone like on tv shows who can read peoples faces and know what they are thinking? I doubt if you are, so give it up and go back to watching Lawrence Welk, he is your speed.

      • Spreadthelove says:

        You obviously don't know what humility looks like on someone's face.
        If you have 999 out of 1,0000 people all in agreement about the same thing, the 999 people probably assessed closer to accuracy to truth than the 1 who did not agree with everyone else.
        Many people have posted on these blogs at how humble SS guys have been.

        And seriously, why don't you go take a class in how TV production is run for reality TV shows?
        Instead of posting the same lame monotonous posts with ridiculous accusations and assumptions with nothing to substantiate anything you are saying.

        Do you really want to continue showing us how ignorant and hateful you are?

    • Susan says:

      The boys always look worried/concerned during the tally. I think it's better than to see a team looking confident and cocky. Save the overjoyed look after the winner has been announced!

      • Sayra says:

        Korean kids are trained to look that way from an early age. It happened to me and I see it in my 3 nephews AND my son. Mostly because we're shaking in our boots cuz we could never tell if what we was gonna satisfied our parents or get yelled at for not doing it better. LOL! just sayin :)

    • Alan says:

      What you interpret as a look of guilt, looked to me more like shock. Tyler told both teams that going into Lubec, they were separated by only FIVE dollars. I don't think at that point anyone knew he was going to win. They had lost the first challenge with the Lobster, and they knew they were behind. I think their concern was legit. They usually waltzed thru each week winning, and now they were faced with some adversity. I think it's fair to be suspicious about anything, but I'm not sure where your concerns are founded. Not knowing if they were going to win or not, and then getting the news, it took them a while to have it sink in. That's my take on it, anyways. Were you rooting for Nonna's Kitchen? Is that why you are doubting the verdict? Just wondering.

    • Jion Kranz says:

      i think after korilla cheated fn has been more careful

    • stephen says:

      guilt – more like constipation – what about the little chickies – they started crying even before they handed over their cash box – I think that is an admission of screwy activity –

    • stephen says:

      of course they did – FN is not stupid enough the let cheating happen AGAIN on their shows – that would make the shows – FIXED – oh wait – FN Star is FIXED – never mind

  5. Laua says:

    I saw that at the final reckoning, Tyler counted the money on camera, but no one checked the receipts. There is no way to tell if either of the teams added money of their own for insurance. Or used their own money for the shopping instead of what Tyler gave them. With so much at stake, who's to say that the winners didn't throw in, say, 6 $20s of their own for insurance–enough to change the outcome? Especially since they felt they'd been handicapped by losing the lobster challenge during the final round. I think this makes the entire enterprise questionable. A Food Network staffer should have tallied the receipts on an adding machine with a tape before Tyler counted the money and subtracted the grocery receipts, to make it clear to the viewers that everything was on the up and up. It was way too easy and tempting to cheat, especially in a contest that close. The possibility that the win was stolen ruined the viewing experience for me.

    • Kath63304 says:

      Don't you think the camera would have caught that like they did on the previous year and tossed that team out of the competion?? They sure did if you remember…

    • MoHub says:

      You have no faith in humanity, do you?

    • kay says:

      They do go back and check the receipts. On one of the seasons one of the contestants was kicked off for cheating, so they do check that.

      • Laura says:

        All that said, I agree with the poster who said the "speed bump" in the final round was way too costly for the loser. It might well have caused the hard feelings and motivated cheating. The final episode would have been more exciting as a simple head to head race

      • Laura says:

        That only eliminates on-camera cheating. No contestant should have the box outside the truck at any time. The shopping receipts should be checked when they exit the store and the right amount of change put in the boxes which should be kept by staff and be delivered to the teams at the trucks the next morning. Staff should collect the boxes every evening at the trucks and distribute them every morning when the teams set up. This time the boxes were taken away at night by the contestants before they were collected. The very costly penalty for the lobster "speed bump" in the final round may have caused hard feelings and motivated cheating. The members of Seoul Sausage had very mixed reactions when their win was announced. It made me wonder.

        • Vicki says:

          While I agree the speed bump was outrageous and grossly unfair, I am very offended at your assumption that Seoul sausage must have cheated to catch up. They were the best time after time after time. Only ONCE were they in the bottom two and that was when there were only four left. I would have been very angry if they had lost due to that ridiculously unfair speed bump.

        • Brian says:

          Do you even know how TV works? Your assumptions absolutely astound me. I don't believe it would be very compelling television if we, the viewer, had to sit through every single thing that went on in every city just so your conspiracy theories could be debunked. Don't you think that there are producers present wherever they go, checking out their receipts when leaving the store? At the end of the day when they shut down? You must think it's magic when the chefs on Iron Chef America make ONE of each dish, yet four are presented at the judges table.

          Do yourself a favor and grab a dictionary and look up the word "editing". You might be enlightened.

      • Alan says:

        You've acknowledged that you have only watched this one episode this season. How do you base your decision that the winning team cheated based on having only watched one show? This competition has stretched over thousands of miles, over two months and thousands of hours of footage shot for this series.

        The fact that this show has to be edited down to roughly 45 minutes of program (less than 60 minutes for commercials) means that there is a lot that went on that wasn't aired (good or bad). What are you basing your theory on?

        You make the accusation that the winning team cheated. How do you know? How do you know that the other team(s) didn't cheat as well?

        It seems to me that you are kind of reaching for some sort of conspiracy, and without any solid proof, I can't agree with your opinion. Besides, it's just a TV show, right?

    • Susan says:

      Give the Food Network a little more credit. I'm sure there are a lot of rules and regulations being enforced behind the camera. If you don't think so, why watch?

    • Vicki says:

      The win would have been STOLEN if nonnas kitchen had won the truck. Seoul sausage was constantly showing they were better time after time. To give an absurd advantage as the final speed bump really offended me. I suppose I knew in my head the network only cared about drama and not fairness or who was intellectually the best, but Seoul had to do twice as we'll as nonnas to make up for that grossly ridiculous speed bump. If Seoul sausage hadn't been almost twice as good as nonnas, this entire race would have been decided by one dish and a nice, but amateur judge who happened to be a fisherman. Now THAT is absurd.

    • guest says:

      How do you know that they did not check the receipts? Maybe they just did not think that they have to show that on camera, as that is obviously something that needs to be done (why else do they need to have receipts). Also, Food Network is not stupid enough to just let them keep the cash box. They could have taken the cash box after the truck close for the day and then give it back the next day with the camera on to make sure no one cheats. They cannot show everything on TV, or else it will be 3 hr episode. Seoul Sausage was just better at selling, and don't forget, they increased their prices by a $1 to catch up. I don't know why you are doubting them so much. Were you rooting for Nonna's kitchenette? And regarding their facial expressions after hearing that the race was close, why would they need to be overjoyed? They haven't won yet, they don't want to start celebrating when they don't know the outcome yet. Don't judge them just because their reaction is not what you expected.

    • stephen says:

      do you think Tyler really counted the money on camera – look at the girls – they were CRYING before handing over the money – the must have counted before and they knew they didn't make what they wanted – otherwise why cry at what could be your crowning moment

      • 1Dishy says:

        No matter what was about to happen, don't you think it was an emotional moment for the girls? Win or lose, I would have cried if I were in their place, too.

      • Jean says:

        If you paid attention, one of the girls had said on camera that it was very emotional for them for making it to the finals and that it was about to be over. Jaclyn in particular broke down a few times during the final episode. I hoped SS would win, but I sure felt for these Jersey girls. They did a great job. All of them. They should be very proud.

  6. Laura says:

    And the money box was taken off camera by the teams before it was collected.

  7. Kaz says:

    Great show. The most deserving team won !! I am very happy and so are many viewers.

    Sorry Noona, work harder next time, don't take the shortcut and serve only donuts during your last stop. At least Seoul sausage served up their entire menu for $2 an item. Also, don't talk and criticize others behind their back . Be a little more refine, more gentle , flaunt less and let your food shine instead of drawing attention to me me me . Anyway . the winning team had strategy and in any competition, good planning , great executions comes to play .

    I don't think this race was even as close as they edited it to be . Just search up Seoul Sausage and you will see how many bloggers write about their good food during the filming . I think it speaks volume that people are willing to pay for interesting food . Trust me, I will not stop at a food truck for donuts, fried store bought ravioli and meatball . nah.. I will pass . I can get that any day any time any where .

    • Jonah says:

      Congratulations Seoul Sausage !! Good job . Well done!

    • Corey says:

      Nonna's SAID they were just doing donuts in the $2 time, but the episode showed them selling smaller (half-sized?) meatball sandwiches in Lubec. They didn't just do donuts.

      And sorry, but don't try to change the Jersey attitude. If the Jersey Shore has taught America anything, it's that those type of folks won't change for anything, ever. They are who they are, and the rest of the country feels the way they do about them for that reason. At least we more or less get along…

  8. ClarkeinAK says:

    I had never even thought of the "padding of the cash box" notion until I read it here – that really puts a damper on the results and makes me wonder why the network wasn't smart enough to do it that way.

    The "really big advantage" from winning the Truck Stop's didn't seem so big afterall, when the waffle guys win and go out last week and Nona's wins it this week and loses.

  9. i'm jus' sayin' says:

    Too many of the drivers were talking on the phone while driving and many times they were not wearing seat-belts. I hope they watch that next time of equip the cars with built in phones.

    I am sure they were watched so they could not pad the cash boxes. Enjoyed watching though. Wish they would post some of the recipes somewhere. (maybe I just did not see them)

  10. CJ Jenkins says:

    Congrats! What a show. Thanks to Food Network and the crew for keeping us on the edge of our seat with fun, cool food and great entertainment.

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