Sunday, December 8, 2013
PORTLAND – The two final contenders on "The Great Food Truck Race" television show battled it out in the Old Port over the weekend, much to the delight of area foodies.
Ted Kim, center, leads the gathering crowd in a cheer just before opening the Seoul Sausage truck as The Great Food Truck Race is filmed for The Food Network in Portland outside of Ri Ra's Irish Pub on Commercial Street Sunday, June 17, 2012.
Jill Brady / Staff Photographer
FOR MORE INFORMATION and photos, read our food blog Maine a la Cart.
The Food Network show arrived on Fore Street on Saturday night and continued on Commercial Street on Sunday with the two final contestants attracting long lines of both customers and the curious.
The finalists are the Seoul Sausage Co., Korean-inspired street food, operated by brothers Yong and Ted Kim and chef Chris Oh, all of Los Angeles, and Nonna’s Kitchenette out of New Jersey, Italian fast food run by Jaclyn Kolsby, Jessica Stambach and Lisa Nativo.
“I heard about it last night and we have watched the show,” said Josh Delano of Portland, one of the first customers to line up.
The irony is that food trucks are now banned in Portland. The show’s producers, which include a crew of about 60, obtained a special temporary permit to set up shop in the Old Port.
A city task force has recommended a partial lift of the ban which is on the agenda on the City Council’s Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.
“I hope this opens the door to more,” Delano said.
In its third season, The Great Food Truck Race started filming seven weeks ago in Long Beach, Calif., with eight teams who moved on to Flagstaff, Ariz., Amarillo, Texas, Fayetteville, Ark., Nashville, Tenn., Cleveland and Boston before making their way to Maine.
The team with the lowest sales was eliminated at each location. The winners receive $50,000 and a specialized food truck, which is worth another $50,000.
“The great thing about the show is it is all about the money,” said Dean Ollins, executive producer.
Ollins said the amount of money the food truck takes in varies by location. Sales are smaller in big cities where the show generates less of a curiosity factor. One show filmed during a previous season in Manhattan, Kansas, population about 52,000, created eight-hour-long lines at the food trucks.
The new season is slated to air around Aug. 19.
The producers revealed little about the latest season of the show, but since it is filmed in public it is sometimes hard to keep the latest developments from the public, Ollins said.
The show is hosted by celebrity chef Tyler Florence, who was staying in Portland but was not on the scene early Sunday afternoon.
Contestants woke up Sunday morning not knowing whether they would stay in Portland or move on to another city.
The two teams bought their groceries for the day at Sam’s Club then headed over to Commercial Street to prepare the food. Nonna’s Kitchenette was the first to start selling, about 12:04 p.m. It took Seoul Sausage another eight minutes to begin taking orders.
The lines were longer at Seoul Sausage, but the service was faster at Nonna’s.
The two menus offered diners a sharp contrast. Nonna’s featured fried raviolis with tomato sauce, meatball sandwiches and other traditional Italian fare.
Al Farrisio, who grew up in Maine and now lives in Fort Meyers, Fla, was the first in line at Nonna’s, ordering one of everything on the menu.
“We are really hungry,” Farrisio said.
Seoul Sausage featured the unexpected, such as the K PopStar, a cherry cola float with ice cream and Pop Rocks candy that erupted like a volcano, and Korean TaTa, spiced french fries smothered with kimchi-infused nacho cheese.
Marilyn Hutchins of Portland and her husband, Timothy, said they are big fans of the show.
After biting into a flaming rice ball, Hutchins said she was a fan of Seoul Sausage as well.
“It’s good,” Hutchins said.
The competition was scheduled to continue for 12 hours before Florence called it to a close.
The show’s accountant was then scheduled to count the day’s earnings before declaring a winner, which the show’s producers said they would not reveal until the airing of the season’s final episode.
As of 3 p.m. Sunday, the food trucks were still attracting a crowd.