Interview with the Winner of The Great Food Truck Race, Season 4 by Joseph Erdos in Shows, September 29th, 2013
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On tonight’s finale of The Great Food Truck Race, three teams put in their last push to make as many sales as they could while battling challenges thrown at them by Tyler. However, only two teams made the last leg of the race, as one was eliminated right in the middle of the episode. The final two teams did their best to secure prime locations in Arlington, Va., and then in Washington, D.C. But by the end it was clear that one team had succeeded in accomplishing Tyler’s final challenge. Would that put them in the path for the win, or would the other team’s sales beat them to the punch? FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the winning team.
In the end, Aloha Plate managed to come out on top, securing the keys to their food truck and claiming the award of $50,000. Even though Tikka Tikka Taco had very strong sales in Annapolis, Md., they failed to keep the momentum going in the last two cities. Aloha Plate was able to rally up more customers and won both challenges: the crab cooking challenge on Kent Island and the sales challenge in D.C., where the teams swapped signature dishes. In front of the nation’s Capitol, the guys from a little island in Hawaii were declared the winners. Relive the moment below.
FN Dish caught up with Adam, Lanai and Shawn to chat about their win. Read the interview below.
You guys were never in the bottom two and never lost a challenge until Chicago. What did it feel like finishing in the bottom for the first time?
Lanai: It took some wind out of our sails, and although the first day in Chicago was good, we had some trouble after that. We just couldn’t get into our groove. Being in the bottom for the first time kind of ruined our momentum and it was discouraging, but it made us fight harder for the next time!
Your “thin it to win it” strategy backfired in Maryland when you didn’t have enough ingredients on hand for making the crab dish. But you won the challenge anyway. How did you guys pull it off?
Lanai: That was all Chef Adam! This guy is pretty amazing. His cool, calm approach has always helped him in the kitchen. It came down to creativity with what you have to use — kind of like how we grew up back home.
Adam: We utilized what was left on the truck and presented it like a championship heavyweight fighter in his last round.
In D.C., what was it like selling your competition’s dish? Did it make you think of Tikka Tikka Taco in a different way?
Lanai: What a clever challenge! We didn’t have too much trouble with it, though. One of the bright sides for us is Adam knows his spices, so we had an advantage.
Besides your winning moment, what has been the most memorable moment on the show?
Lanai: There were so many it’s hard to choose. Talk about a great life experience! It has been amazing and emotional all the way. Every time one of our customers got up to dance the hula, it got us a little choked up. And of course winning the Spam challenge was pretty amazing too.
Everywhere you guys went, the aloha spirit seemed to follow. Do you think you could have done this journey without it? What has it meant for you to see this kind of love?
Lanai: Yes! Everyone wants something from Hawaii. If you have never been to our islands, the curiosity to try our foods is always there. It was the one feeling that I will take with me forever. Being in the front of the truck meeting the people, one of the common comments we got was “mahalo for bringing us together.” That’s what aloha and our culture is about. We share our food to bring people together. When you come to Hawaii, the first thing we do is cook for you or bring you to eat. We can’t thank everyone who shared their time with us enough.
What do you think it was about your food that kept people coming, whether you were serving geoduck, Spam or whatever ingredient Tyler threw at you guys?
Lanai: We made sure we didn’t put ourselves in the corner with a name or one brand. You knew for the most part what the other trucks were serving just by their name. All you knew looking at our truck is that you were going to get something from paradise. Who doesn’t want a piece of paradise?
Adam: No matter what we created on the truck, we kept it real — as real as we could with what we had to work with! Hawaii’s flavors were created by all the ethnicities that surround the pacific, so I tried to keep that flavor profile along with familiar dishes we grew up with.
Shawn: Growing up in Hawaii, we had lots of different cultures. And nowadays people like fusion in foods.
Coming into the show, what did you think would be the most difficult part of the race? And now looking back, do you feel the same way?
Lanai: Location! Finding a location in a foreign territory had me stressed out every day. Looking back and just thinking about it still stresses me out! One bad choice and you’re packing it up and headed home. Look what happened to Bowled and Beautiful.
Adam: The most difficult part, traveling in a car on long drives. Not knowing where we are going until the last minute. Now that I look back, it was awesome, except for when we got lost!
Shawn: Finding the groove with the team. We never really worked together in a kitchen and never worked in a tight space in a food truck. It was all new to us.
What are you planning to do or have done with the prize money? Will you keep your truck around on the mainland, or are you headed back to Hawaii?
Lanai: We are keeping the truck on the mainland and hoping to expand. We are planning on opening a brick and mortar. Our goal is to keep sharing aloha with the rest of America, spreading aloha through our food!