Tyler Florence on the New Season of The Great Food Truck Race

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, August 13th, 2013

Tyler Florence on the New Season of The Great Food Truck RaceTyler Florence is back to host the fourth season of The Great Food Truck Race. Like last season, the food truck teams are made up of newbies who dream of one day operating their own mobile restaurant business. There’s a lot at stake: the winning team gets $50,000 and gets to keep their truck. Tyler guides the teams on their coast-to-coast journey, and along the way doles out challenges, with each new one more difficult than the last. And this year the route is the longest yet, so these teams are in for the ride of their lives. FN Dish recently caught up with Tyler to chat about the new season, his take on the food truck scene and his advice for the teams.

Watch the season premiere of The Great Food Truck Race on Sunday, Aug. 18 at 9pm/8c.

What are you looking forward to most on the new season of The Great Food Truck Race?
It’s the first year we have a team from Hawaii, which is really exciting, and we also have several all-female teams. The teams were so good this year, even as rookies. I think the teams are actually watching past seasons and taking notes. Although they’ve never done it before, they’ve seen the other people start from scratch and they’re taking those notes to heart.

What do you think about some of the businesses using food trucks as a stepping stone to getting a brick-and-mortar restaurant?
I think a lot of people are taking that as an opportunity to expand a brand, but not drop the food truck thing. Food trucks can be incredibly profitable and they’re very low-maintenance because it doesn’t take a lot of people to operate the truck. You can also pick up every two to three hours throughout the day and move to the next traffic flow, whereas with a brick-and-mortar restaurant you’re stuck, so you’d better hope that the flow of customers can sustain you for 12 to 15 hours of a workday.

With a food truck, you could be at a farmers’ market in the morning, a baseball game at night — you can really morph and change. With a brick-and-mortar restaurant, it’s permanent; it’s way more expensive to build out and it requires about triple the staff. The thing about a food truck morphing into a brick-and-mortar restaurant — it’s a gradual stepping stone, but I think people are taking that opportunity to create a diversified restaurant group and not saying, “Okay now that I’ve graduated to brick and mortar I’m dumping the food truck,” because it’s smart to have both.

In a 2011 interview with FN Dish, when asked what the best city for food trucks was, you said that Portland, Ore., was “on fire.” Do you still feel that way?
I do think Portland is on fire. I think Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, is really embracing food trucks as a big culture, too. I think San Francisco, New York City, Miami and Boston are also on fire. I think all these cities that were on the up-and-up a couple years ago have a solid food truck culture and everyone’s embracing this.

What helpful advice would you give the food truck rookies who are coming into this new season?
I did get a chance to spend a couple minutes here and there with them and really pick them apart, not in a bad way, but to make sure they knew what they were doing. These teams have never done this before, so it’s healthy just to ask some questions like, have you trademarked your name? Did you buy all the domain names for your name? Do you know what it takes to operate a food truck? Are you prepared to do this?

The advice I give them is really diverse depending on who they are and what their team does. It’s about everything from their brands and their identity to their uniforms and their food. I just give them good, solid feedback. I like acting as sort of a coach to these people for the seven weeks we’re on the road together.

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Comments (10)

  1. Jackie says:

    Tyler Florence. I am addicted to the Food Truck Race. I try to make I a point to watch every episode. I miss many of them because I have to get up so early for work Monday morning and my VCR no longer works but a DVR is not yet in my budget. I wait very impatiently with tremendous anticipation and excitement for the new season to begin. It is my dream to own my very own food truck. I would love to know what is involved in acquiring and maintaining a food truck and how to research it. I have tried looking on line but it is confusing to me. Thanks for your help and I love, love, love the Great Food Truck Race!

  2. Tiffany says:

    My children and I absolutely LOVE watch the Food Truck Race and we haven't missed a season. We would love to be able to have a list of where they are going, because if they are anywhere close by, we would love to be able to try out their food. Anyways, I'm very excited about this new season that starts tomorrow!!

  3. Carl says:

    As a fan of the Food Truck Race, know that I truly enjoy the show. That being said, I believe the food oriented competition shows are in danger of becoming too predictable based on a, seemingly, set formula. The bread and butter of the shows are the one-on-one interviews with contestants, which are full of trash talk, cockiness or drama that often never shows up in challenges. Even though they have become very predictable, will remain a fan and frequent viewer, but will offer a prediction. The first contestant, team, or competitor that says, "If I/we don't win this, I/we will be devastated." has always been the next one to go home.

  4. Dev says:

    hey bro wen i can i see this in India?

  5. Steve Satterlee says:

    What company manufacturers the TRUCKS used for the Great Food Truck Race and where are they located?

  6. Kevin says:

    What happens to the losing trucks?

  7. TexasStyleBBQ says:

    Hello Mr Florence, I have watch the Food Truck Race every year and LOVE it!! I want to enter this contest but do know where to sign up for it. Can you please help?

  8. María Jiménez says:

    I need the apply , casting four the food Truck face pleace tell me

  9. Evette says:

    I love the show, but I feel like your betraying the goals originally set in the beginning. It was supposed to help promote existing food trucks and ultimately reward the winner. Now you have teams of people who don't even have trucks, so it does nothing for existing businesses that are struggling. To top that off now the challenges have little to do with the actual business of running a food truck. I mean come on having to create a dish with a minimum price tag of $20-Isn't part of the lure of a food truck affordable food. Or dictating that a certain ingredient be the main ingredient in all dishes. Maybe I'm missing something but Isn't that another draw of food trucks the type of food each sells? The new format is just putting a new truck of amateurs who if not for the show would of never seriously considered this a career choice taking away business from others following their life's passion. Honestly it seems like Food Network is more about drama with food coming second. But I guess the same could be said about most of your new shows, how disappointing.

  10. Jo A. Newsbaum says:

    Hi Tyler,
    I am the "idiot" who said you look like the guy from the Food Network in the elevator in St. Louis. You were so gracious and I could hardly wait to tell my "foody friend, Nancy". She asked me if I got a picture. I said "OMG", I was so stunned it was him, I forgot. Love your shows and always watch both! Addicted to both! You do a great job! (…but wish I had gotten a pic).

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