Only one week left until the finale of The Great Food Truck Race! We open in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where we pan across rolling hills, American flags, brick buildings, old barns, grazing cows and Tyler Florence. My kind of place.
Jonesborough is also home to only 5,000 people, so the food truckies are nervous about how they’ll market to such a small, well, market. It seems to me that Grill Em All should have an advantage in a smaller, rural environment. Burgers are easy for most people to buy and their food tends to be cheaper. Spencer on the Go might struggle with their higher prices and upscale flavors, and I would say that Nom Nom will have the hardest time because of the small Asian population, but then again, it’s the Nom Nom truck, and so far these guys have been unstoppable.
Tyler Florence is once again looking dapper in the town square and gives each team $400 and an extra day to sell food in Jonesborough. Spencer on the Go makes friends with a local restaurant chef per usual and even gets some recipes out of the deal, while Nom Nom and Grill Em All race it out in the grocery store. Spencer on the Go’s leader, Laurent, says he’s ready to have some fun with Southern cuisine and a french twist. I love his commentary – all the french guys are so cute. He adorably asks a pair of pig-tailed toddlers if they like truffles, and they nod happily. Aw.
Everybody and their dog shows up for food trucks. Small town folk don’t see food trucks every day, so they are ready to come out and try just about anything. Grill Em All is the last to get set up, and it seems that any assumptions about rural folk only wanting American food was false. Spencer on the Go and Nom Nom both have long lines and excited customers, despite having never heard of Banh Mi before.
After a great afternoon of solid foodie competition, by 8:30 p.m. the town is deserted and our city slicker food truck friends are wondering where the nightlife went. Tyler notes the abandoned streets from his perch in an old-fashioned diner and calls up the food truckies. Misa of Nom Nom whines, “why are you calling us?!” Really? We’re unclear on this?Â Anyways, tomorrow’s Truck Stop will be at Old Man Johnson’s Farm, down by the river, he tells them. That’s not stereotypical at all, Food Network.
The next morning, we meet up in a beautiful lush field by the river with three campfires set up. Tyler informs us that food trucks have been around since the time of Daniel Boone, in the form of chuck wagons, so each of the truck teams will have to cook a traditional five-course pioneer meal – potatoes, bread, eggs, beans, beef and a dessert.
Misa of Nom Nom voice-overs that “this is one challenge where she will not be helpful at all” and shortly thereafter proves herself right by struggling to light a fire. The Nom Nom truck team is excellent at what they do, but so far they have yet to win a Truck Stop and seem easily overwhelmed with cooking challenges. I think the whole dutch-oven-get-back-to-basics thing will prove a bit much for them.
In contrast, Spencer on the Go seems very comfortable with rustic cooking and fairly confident in their chances. Grill Em All struggles slightly and for the first time in the competition even bicker a bit, but they quickly overcome and all of their food looks incredible. It’s funny to see Tyler peering over each team as they cook – how nerve-wracking would that be? Also, side-note: all of this food makes me really want to go into historical reenacting. I’ll wear a big skirt and a bonnet, just feed me chuckwagon chow!
A pair of cowboys from the American Chuckwagon Association come to judge. Mmmm… just like Momma used to make! Everything looks homey and scrumptious. Despite Spencer on the Go’s chef prowess and confidence, the winner is…… Grill Em All!
The Grill Em All guys hoot and holler and giggle awesomely and the chuckwagon cowboys smile in satisfaction. Grill Em All also gets to take off for a local auto show, while Spencer on the Go and Nom Nom will have to battle it out in downtown Jonesborough.
Within minutes of showing up at the auto show, Grill Em All has a line at least 20 people deep. Back at the ranch, Nom Nom and Spencer on the Go are understandably bummed, but don’t seem to be doing so shabby themselves.
The next day, Matt from Grill Em All tells us that “there’s no more coming in fourth or fifth because you can’t, there’s only three of us left.” Thanks, Captain Obvious. Nom Nom is late to open because they were out buying supplies, and Grill Em All sells so much to the after-church crowd that they have to close up to buy more food. Spencer on the Go is the only team who seems to have a good grasp on how to use their time wisely – they ask their local chef buddy to deliver more catfish so they don’t have to close and spend the after 8 p.m. hours restocking. Smart frenchmen.
Ryan from Grill Em All tells us that “they grossly underestimated how awesome Jonesborough was going to be”. Yeah rural America! Laurent from Spencer on the Go seems confident in their sales and says he’s going to take a break. “I like taking breaks, you know.” Me, too, Laurent. Grill Em All sells 10 burgers one minute before closing, so Ryan shakes his head in amazement, “I love this city, man.”
Ok, it’s Elimination Day! Tyler is once again standing in the all-American, brick-lined main drag of Jonesborough. Every food truck made record sales in Jonesborough. Woo small-town USA!
However, there’s no escaping it – Nom Nom is once again the winningest truck of them all. Grill Em All comes in second, beating Spencer on the Go by a mere $37. Ouch. The frenchmen will be missed – when everybody else was whining about challenges, the Spencer guys were consistently classy. Way to play, Spencer on the Go. (You know what this means, though? Both of the winning teams are from L.A. We need to do some food truck chasing in SoCal.)
Next stop – New York City! From small-town America to metropolis heaven for the finale of the Great Food Truck Race – I can’t wait. Come back next week for the finale recap!