The rise of the food truck in the U.S. may not have completely redefined fast food here yet, but it’s getting a toehold, that’s for sure. “The Great Food Truck Race” and its host, chef Tyler Florence, are helping the push, and starting Sunday, Aug. 19, the series careens into Season 3 with an entirely new twist to ratchet up the excitement.
“Seasons 1 and 2, we went with some of the best food truck operators in the country that already had established fan bases, that already had the few years doing what they were doing really well, and they were professionals,” Florence tells Zap2it. But for this season, a different approach was sought, and feedback from viewers at foodnetwork.com helped find it.
“People were very interested in knowing what it takes to start a food truck,” Florence explains. “So we had this great idea this season to really reverse the process. Instead of saying, ‘OK, here are eight fantastic food trucks, and we’re going to race them across the country,’ here are eight teams that really want to have a food truck, that have a very compelling idea but have never done it before.”
And the twist doesn’t stop there. “We’re giving all of them a food truck, and then, when they get eliminated, one city at a time — we take the food truck back,” he says, chuckling. It’s an important distinction, because the winners get to keep the truck, and with it all of the credibility the series gives them to fulfill their ambitions. “They’re competing for money, because we give them $50,000 — but they’re also competing for the right to be in business for themselves. … The pressure’s enormous, and it shows from city to city. The level of competition was never greater than in this season, and the drive, determination, the heart and soul – it’s so wonderful to watch.”
What are you currently reading?
I’m actually reading some really interesting books. I’m reading a book by Ray Kurzweil that’s called “Transcend.” It’s about living as long as you possibly can, which I think is really interesting. I’m also reading a fantastic biography from Woody Guthrie. I think it’s so interesting to think through what Bob Dylan’s idol was. So I’m reading this great book called “Bound for Glory.”
What did you have for dinner last night?
I was expediting at my restaurant, El Paseo, here in downtown Mill Valley [Calif.], so I shared a 38-day, grass-fed, dry rib-eye with our executive chef. It was delicious.
What is your next project?
Our next project is really just launching “The Great Food Truck Race.” We’re excited about that. And then our next cookbook, which is called “Tyler Florence Fresh,” comes out in November.
When was the last vacation you took — where and why?
I was just in Los Angeles a couple of days ago. My wife and I went down there for a birthday party.