Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race” FINALS Watch Party
Fahrenheit Restaurant in Tremont 9/25/11
For six weeks Cleveland foodies have been holding their breath as contestants have been eliminated from the Food Network‘s Great Food Truck Race. They’ve had plenty to cheer for as Cleveland’s own Hodge Podge truck has thrived, survived, and come from behind to make it to the finals in Miami. The team – consisting of truck owner Chris Hodgson, his sister Catie and his girlfriend Jacquelyn Romanin – narrowly escaped elimination in week 4 when they had the lowest sales, but were spared due to the cheating of competitor Korilla BBQ from New York City.
Hodge Podge rolled on to the final 3 in Atlanta where, despite a “Speed Bump” (a random twist thrown in each week by the show’s host, Tyler Florence) that saw the truck’s chef removed from the truck and the two ladies – who are not chefs – having to cook and run the truck themselves, they smashed the competition and became the team to beat in the finals. This set the stage for a rollicking watch party Sunday night at Farenheit in Tremont as the two remaining trucks would compete for $100,000.
A faithful crowd of over 200 gathered, first on the sidewalks of Tremont to gorge themselves on gourmet fare from Hodge Podge as well as Farenheit’s own food truck, with the Umami Moto truck rounding out the trio of delicious offerings. Sampling Hodge’s incredible Fig Burger and Sweet Potato Tots, Umami’s fish tacos, and Farenheit’s addictive Potato Nachos with Goat Cheese Fondue, newbies realized that these are NOT their father’s food trucks (What – no stale sandwiches wrapped in cellophane? Gasp!). The party then moved inside for the actual viewing of the show.
The battle in Miami saw the trio from Cleveland forced to go deep sea fishing for the first time to catch the main course for a cooking challenge, watch their truck get towed (forcing them to prepare food and sell it from the top of their Volkswagen Jetta), and to switch to an all-dessert truck first thing in the morning. As they met each challenge, the crowd laughed, gasped, moaned and cheered and the outcome remained uncertain until the final moments. Chris Hodgson, a class act from the start, announced to the crowd before the final segment that whatever happened, he had respect for and genuine friendship with the Lime Truck chefs against whom they were competing.
In the end, Lime Truck edged past Hodge Podge to claim the prize, much to the disappointment of the crowd. However, the fun and congratulations to the Cleveland team lasted long after the final credits rolled. Watching teams from major cities get eliminated and having Cleveland in the finals was exciting in itself, and Hodge echoed the sentiment, reflecting also that the trip had brought him and his sister and girlfriend closer together. Furthermore, we still have the Hodge Podge truck – as well as Chris’ other truck, Dim and Den Sum – cruising the streets of Cleveland, dishing up the food that we locals know is really the winner.
A lifelong Clevelander and unofficial Cleveland ambassador, Bob promises that he will actually publish his book someday which he says will “transform the way people in Cleveland think about Cleveland”. His website is http://www.BobSense.com.