Interview with the Runner-Up of The Great Food Truck Race, Season 4 by Joseph Erdos in Shows, September 30th, 2013
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There could be only one winner of The Great Food Truck Race, Season 4. Three teams made it into the finale, but halfway through, one was eliminated, leaving two teams to duke it out in Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C. As the finish line drew closer, the challenges got even more difficult. But by the end, one of them won the final challenge and earned a cash prize. The other team had to hope their sales were good enough to get them a lead. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the runner-up from the race. Read the winner’s interview here.
In the end, Aloha Plate’s persistence at selling won them the race and the team of Tikka Tikka Taco came in second place. It came down to which team could secure the best location, and Aloha Plate lucked out. Tikka Tikka Taco struggled to secure locations in their last cities and lost precious time. They also couldn’t meet Tyler’s final challenge of selling their competitor’s signature dish. In front of the nation’s Capitol, Aloha Plate won their truck and the $50,000, but that doesn’t mean it’s over for Tikka Tikka Taco. FN Dish caught up with the guys to chat about their win. Read the interview below.
Throughout the show you guys put out fusion food that people loved. Was there any point during the competition where you thought fusion might not work in a certain city? Did you ever second-guess a dish?
We definitely guessed and second-guessed every decision; it was a strength of our team! We let all opinions out in the open and worked through them until there was a clear winner of an idea. At the end of it, our biggest regret was not adding more Tikka spice to the crab dish. Mike made the decision to scale back not because we were afraid of them not liking it, but because crab is usually not served with heavy flavoring. It’s naturally delicious. It turned out to be a $3,000 mistake.
How did you guys come up with your menu of Tikka tacos, naanchos and other unique dishes?
Evolution, baby! I ate a lot of Indo-Pak food growing up, and everyone has their own way of eating it. Since I also loved Mexican food, I got used to just throwing the meat and vegetables I wanted into the naan and topping it with the yogurt — fajita style. From there, I just started trying it different ways, and our concept evolved into what it is now. Pretty amazing!
What was going through your minds when Tyler announced that Chicago would be the beginning of the finale? Did it change your strategy at all?
Two things immediately popped into my mind: 1. Thank God we are starting with a $1,000 lead in the finale, and 2. Shoot, that means we aren’t narrowing the competition here in Chicago. As much as we love those boys from Philly, we didn’t want them heading east with us and getting closer to home.
You guys had a great plan for selling the Ditka sausages, offering a discount on the other menu items if customers purchased the special. Do you think that’s what got you ahead of everyone else, securing you the Truck Stop win?
Yes, absolutely! People really wanted our food, too, so when they ordered it we cross-sold the Ditkas. It made it so low-risk they couldn’t help but try it. I think that was a solid plan.
You had a really strong day in Annapolis, making more than $5,000, but when it came to Arlington and D.C., you guys had a hard time getting customers. You ended up not being able to sell all 50 of your specials to meet the final challenge. Why do you think there was that big of a difference among the locations?
The difference was simple: We knew we were heading to Annapolis as soon as Tyler told us. So, we had an entire 700-mile drive in which we could do our homework, come up with a solid plan, attract attention in advance, and then execute upon arrival. With Arlington and D.C., it was literally “head there now and sell!” With no advance time to plan, it was pretty much all luck from there. We had to make quick decisions, and we made the wrong ones. We competed hard, cooked and planned well, but lost in the end — no shame in that. And we are proud of what we accomplished.
Shaun and Michael, what did it mean for you guys to take this journey together with your uncle? Has the competition changed your relationship?
You know, it’s interesting. I would say our relationship didn’t change, it changed back! Growing up, we always lived a short drive away from Amoo and would spend every precious minute we could with him. As adults, we live farther away from him and aren’t lucky enough to see him as often. Being on the road for two months together felt like old times. We have learned so much from Amoo, our sense of style, music, cooking ability — so much of who we are! We are forever grateful to him and love him even more than we can possibly show in a quick interview.
At elimination, Tyler informed you that the Fallen Patriot Fund would be getting a donation to honor your fallen friend. What did that mean to you, Shaun?
Shaun: I thought it was pretty awesome! It’s nice to hear his name spoken on a national stage and know that he is remembered not just by his family and also everyone he served with, but by America too. He deserves that recognition and for America to know what he sacrificed for this country.
Is there a future for Tikka Tikka Taco in St. Louis or elsewhere? What’s next for you?
You better believe it. In fact, people can help us get launched! We are going to attempt a crowd funding campaign, so please look us up on social media and follow us through our journey. The food and the concept is too good to let go of. Look out for updates on how you can help us get started!