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The Great Food Truck Race rolls into Laguna with a fantastic fleet of culinary kitchens on wheels 


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

The Great Food Truck Race is a reality television and cooking series that originally aired on August 15, 2010, on Food Network, with Chef Tyler Florence as the host. Billed as a cross between Cannonball Run and Top Chef, this show features several competing teams of three who drive across the United States in their food trucks and make stops every week to sell food in different cities. The 14th season titled “All Stars” premiered on June 6, 2021.

the great FOA

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All veteran-operated Southern Pride Asian Fusion drew in crowds at FOA

With Chef Tyler at the helm, on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, the 2022 competitors came into Laguna for the filming of its 15th season. 

Even before The Great Food Truck Race, Chef Tyler has delighted the masses by sharing the sights, sounds and flavors of his unique culinary vision with fans around the world. After graduating from the prestigious culinary program at Johnson & Wales University, he tackled the Big Apple where he helmed multiple acclaimed restaurants and established himself as one of New York City’s finest young stars. His most recent restaurant opening took place at the end of 2021, with Miller & Lux, a modern American high-end steakhouse in the Warriors’ Chase Center’s Thrive City, San Francisco. He resides in nearby Mill Valley.

the great plant based

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Senoreata serves up plant-based food

The Great Food Truck Race pits teams of food truck operators in a series of challenges that test their culinary skills and teamwork. The show travels across the country each season, with the competing food trucks on the road shining a spotlight on different cities. At each location, the food truck teams set up shop and compete for the most sales. The team that earns the least will have to “turn in their keys” and leave the competition (drive home). 

Second day of filming

On Thursday, the Food Network filmed residents and visitors partaking of all the various food delights. Hailing from Los Angeles, Mikayla [food fan] tried out the salmon and coconut rice from Saute Kingz from Florida, which was parked in the Royal Hawaiian parking lot. Mikayla gave the dish rave reviews. “I saw the news that the food trucks were going to be down here, so we came to sample them,” she said. 

the great mikayla

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“The Great Food Truck Race” fan Mikayla came all the way from L.A.

In the first two seasons of The Great Food Truck Race, the competitors were seasoned, professional food truck operators who were competing for a cash prize (first season was $50,000 and second season was $100,000). In the following seasons (save for season six), food trucks were provided to novices (from home cooks to former restaurateurs) who have dreamt of owning and operating their very own food truck. In seasons three, four and five, the winning team got the money and got to keep the food truck they were provided by the show. In season six and onward, the show reverted back to awarding the winning teams just the $50,000.

Lots of locations 

At Pavilions Parking lot on Thursday

–Girl’s Got Balls: This women-owned food truck from Fox River Grove, Illinois served a variety of ball-shaped, handheld gourmet eats. Their flavors kept you wanting more! This was the only food truck fare I sampled, and the Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Ball was an orb of delight.

the great balls

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Girl’s Got Balls is a women-owned and run food truck

–ESO Artisanal Pasta: Offered authentic tastes of Italy across New Jersey fare, such as Sicilian Fried Chicken, Cavatelli and Green Goddess Bruschetta.

–Senoreata: All plant-based offerings such as Picadillo Nachos and Ceviche with hearts of palm.

–Maybe Cheese Born With It!: From Toledo to Laguna, this is the only drag queen mac & cheese food truck from Ohio. Who doesn’t love mac & cheese?

the great drag queen

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Maybe Cheese Born With It! is Ohio’s only drag queen mac & cheese food truck 

–Salsa Queen: From Florida, they featured Day of the Dead décor and dishes such as Heart Attack Quesadillas, Commando Tacos and Buffalo Chicken Tostadas. 

At the Royal Hawaiian parking lot on PCH:

–Sauté Kingz: Hailing from Daytona Beach, Florida, they use the freshest locally sourced ingredients, herbs and produce. Among their menu offerings was baby salmon or chicken with orzo pasta.

–Food Flight: They are new, and this is the first competition for them. They walked the short distance to Heisler Park with samples to entice visitors with offerings such as Machu Picchu Steak Sandwiches.

At the Festival of Arts:

–Southern Pride Asian Fusion: This food truck is run by three military veterans who met a culinary school.

the great salsa queen

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Salsa Queen

History of American food trucks

Lest you imagine that food trucks are a new phenomenon, the history of American food trucks dates back many years. Mobile dining and street food have been part of American’s dining habits since the late 17th century where it could be found in many of the larger cities on the East Coast. In 1691, New Amsterdam (now known as New York City) began regulating street vendors selling food from push carts.

the great ESO

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ESO Artisanal Pasta brings the authentic taste of Italy to their menu offerings

Since then, food trucks have taken a front seat in the world of American street food and are part of an ongoing food revolution. Food trucks have become so popular that in October 2010, the prestigious Zagat guide announced that in 2011 they would begin to provide reviews of food trucks. In June 2014, the National Food Truck Association was formed, creating the first national association of food truck associations.

the great food flight

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Food Flight gave out samples in Heisler Park to entice visitors 

Food truck fare is here to stay and as time goes on is becoming more sophisticated and versatile, and on Wednesday and Thursday, lucky residents sampled some of the best.

However, we’ll have to wait until the show airs this summer to find out who won!


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