After a coast-to-coast challenge and six defeated food trucks, the Lime Truck and Hodge Podge were the last two competitors in Sunday night's finale of Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race. Did The Lime Truck's take on fresh California cuisine drive laps around its rival? Or did Hodge Podge's fancier twist on comfort food propel it through the finish line first?
The final stop: Miami, where the first truck to make $15,000 and meet host Tyler Florence at South Point Park would win.
Starting with $500, the teams had to start serving ASAP. Although Chris Hodgson had connections in the city and was able to obtain high-end ingredients like lobster, black truffles and foie gras. Lime Truck didn't have a plan in place but purchased mussels for a red curry, crab for ceviche and beef for Philly cheesesteak fries.
Speed Bump No. 1
Tyler calling on the phone is always bad news, so after brisk sales by both trucks, they were bummed to hear that they had to start selling food without the heating elements on their trucks, which in turn would be towed to a nearby impound. Only when the teams earned $200 from the food they prepared off the truck would they be able to pay off the impound.
Hodge Podge started serving sashimi off the top of their Volkswagen and quickly retrieved their truck. Lime Truck, however, struggled with their sidewalk mussel-cooking demonstration and were reunited with their truck much later. Regardless, they seemed to recoup that night when they started serving in Little Havana, near several bars.
Each team was up early to go fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. From their catch, they had to prepare one dish that would change the competition. Chef Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food and Drink would judge which dish was best and win a prize that Florence hinted was a "game changer" in the competition.
Jesse from Lime Truck presented an amuse-bouche of raw fish wrapped around shredded asparagus and then a seared citrus fish topped with tuna tartare. It was deemed, fresh, well-seasoned, well-executed, with bright flavors but perhaps a little dated in concept. Hodge's king mackerel steak with potatoes, garlic, onions, heirloom tomatoes and kale topped with remoulade sauce also got high marks, although Schwarz felt the dish could use some editing.
Lime Truck took the prize — $1,500. They had been trailing by about $100, so now they were far in the lead and closer to the $15,000 victory.
Hodge Podge was a bit bummed, but they recouped quickly by its strategic central location at Kendall's Car Wash. Lime Truck didn't do badly, either, by locating near a brewery. At the end of the night, when Florence ordered them to stop selling, Lime Truck had earned more than $13,000, while Hodge Podge had $12,000. These are unprecedented earnings on the show. This final showdown is taking much less time than we expected.
Speed Bump No. 2
For the first two hours the next morning, the trucks had to sell nothing but desserts. Sweets. In the morning. Lime Truck decided to do the breakfast-as-dessert concept downtown, while Hodge Podge would sell to the employees at a wholesale business where they purchased their ingredients. Bread pudding, Nutella and mascapone quesadillas, bananas not so fosters, berry waffles, "puppy chow" ... what's not to love?
The concept is a hit, possibly selling even faster than their regular menu. Hmm, we smell a spin-off truck! Both Hodge Podge and Lime Truck reached their $15,000 goal quickly, pack up and race off to see Florence.
In the end, we see the Lime Truck trio run up to Florence, who's dressed in his best aviator sunglasses, shorts and inscrutable expression. He demands that Daniel wear his lime green sweatband so he can match his partners in "full team regalia" before handing them a briefcase. If they open it and it's empty, they've lost. If they find $100,000 inside, well, they get the $100,000.
It wasn't empty. Lime Truck wins. Chef Jason Quinn wants to put part of the money toward opening his own brick-and-mortar restaurant. Although the Hodge Podgers run up to see them celebrating, and sad piano music plays over their entrance, the somber mood doesn't last for long. It was a worthy competition, Hodgson grew closer to his sister and girlfriend, and he reflected, "It's the greatest win of my life." Aww!
Congrats to Lime Truck! And now, we all do the Lime Truck dance!
Are you happy with the winners? Do you think the competition was fair?