“The Great Food Truck Race” 2014 came to a close Sept. 28 on the Food Network as the last two teams standing battled it out via a multi-city race for the grand prize. So which team emerged the victor and claimed the grand prize, Houston’s Lone Star Chuck Wagon or Los Angeles’s Middle Feast?
The episode began as show host Tyler Florence welcomed the teams to Tampa, Fla. for the first leg of the finale. After reminding them of the high stakes –$50,000 and a state of the art food truck versus nothing for the loser– Tyler got to work explaining that they’d need to incorporate all they’d learned on the show to win.
In honor the concept of branding, he told both teams that they’d be limited to selling just their five best dishes, and went on to explain that for the first time, he’d be setting their price point: one $5 dish, three $10 dishes, and one $15 dish. After deciding on their menus, they were told they’d be heading 150 miles south to Bonita Springs, Fla. to focus on marketing. While there, they would record 30-second radio commercials for their respective trucks.
With the instructions laid out, the teams got to work creating their menus on the boards provided by Tyler and then hit the road. Upon arrival in Bonita Springs, the teams quickly recorded the radio spots and then unexpectedly met up with Tyler as they left the station.
Tyler explained that in honor of the concept of partnership, he’d pre-loaded their trucks with food, and that they’d be splitting the profits generated by their cumulative sales in Naples, Fla. That money would serve as their seed money for their final destination. Neither team was pleased with the idea of working with the opponent, but swallowed their frustrations and set up shop at a local park.
Both teams stressed over a lack of customers, and the cash in the till proved disheartening to the teams: With just $369 generated between the two trucks –$200 by Lone Star and $169 by Middle Feast– each team received a measly $184.50 in seed money. Tyler instructed them to close up shop and get some sleep in preparation for the next day, which would see them heading to Alligator Alley in the Everglades.
The next day, the teams greeted Tyler in the Everglades for stop number four in the finale. In observance of the concept of cooking locally, he revealed that they’d be taking part in a cooking challenge, with the winner snagging an extra $184 in seed money. After riding air boats to claims bags of alligator and frog legs from an Everglades resident, they returned to Tyler, who gave them 30 minutes to put together their local fare.
Lone Star put a Texas spin on their dishes by crafting both a southwest alligator eggroll and a frog leg tostada. Middle Feast, conversely, made deep fried frog legs under a garlic lemon herb sauce. After the teams presented their creations to Tyler, he sampled them and chose Middle Feast’s dish as the big winner. Lone Star was bummed out by their loss, but accepted Tyler’s final decision.
With the competition complete, Tyler revealed the season’s final destination, Key West, Fla., and the teams once again hit the road. Upon arrival, the teams again met up with Tyler who asked why they had taken part in the show. Middle Feast’s Tommy said he was doing it only for his young daughter, while Lone Star’s Lance shared that he and wife/team member Rachel had given up nearly everything to get their business off the road.
After stressing the importance of pristine time management, Tyler sent the teams off to shop and sell for the season’s final battle. Lone Star found a spot to park on a busy street and then went shopping, and Middle Feast parked nearby to keep an eye on their competition. Lone Star got off to a quick start, opening after just 20 minutes of prep time, while Middle Feast appeared to enjoy similar early day success despite a slower start.
But all wasn’t sunny for the Texans in Key West. Drama hit when the cash-disadvantaged Lone Star ran out of hamburger buns and team members Rachel and Andrea fought over whether or not they should remove the burger from their menu. Fortunately, they were able to work through their troubles. Both teams ended the evening feeling stressed over potentially lackluster sales.
The final day opened as the teams headed out for a few last hours of sales. Lone Star was irritated when once again, Middle Feast sought them out and parked nearby, but both teams got to work. After just a few hours, Tyler called to tell them that the race was over. He instructed them to meet him –and bring along the mysterious “do not open” briefcases they were given at the beginning of the season– for final judgment.
After arriving to face Tyler one last time, Lone Star and Middle Feast talked about their experiences on the show. After calling each of them “winning teams,” Tyler asked for their cash boxes and briefcases, and got to work tallying the final sales right there before them. By a margin of $700, the trio behind Middle Feast were declared the winners of “The Great Food Truck Race” 2014. To keep up with winners Hilla, Arkadi, and Tommy, follow them on Twitter.