The Great Food Truck Race-Season 10, Episode 6: Shake Down in Fort Lauderdale.

Yes, we were riding high in Tampa, only to be knocked down several notches in Ft Meyers. You’d think there’s enough retirees around here, their collective million years of experience would have rubbed off on us or something. As high as the peaks are, well, as I know, that’s how deep the valley is going to go.

It’s getting harder to find locations and now we find ourselves in the middle of a week which presents more problems. No customers and this is a selling competition. You know the saying, “Mo money, mo problems?” Well, Notorious B.I.G., NO money can mean mo problems too.

Our first challenge is a skewer challenge, and Kyle throws a javelin and hits it first. We wanted “Turf”. I see thyme and some other herbs and garlic, olive oil and think Chimichurri! The perfect complement to Filet Mignon.

Well, momma said there’d be days like these, and we lose the challenge because Tyler doesn’t think that we stayed on “Brand”. Tyler needs to come to the Boise area and see our food scene. We most definitely stayed true to Idaho. And as momma once said, what people think about me is none of my business.

The loss pairs us automatically with Rolling Indulgence, which would have been our first choice anyway. We are both Burger Trucks and wouldn’t have had to re-set anything. Plus we love all of our competitors so it wouldn’t have matters who we go paired with. So joint selling as one team. Rolling’s location was a bust and ours was only slightly better. We have a miserable day selling but really enjoyed Rolling! I also had to make a Vegan Salad and they liked it so much they ordered another one.

Vegan Salad Baby yeah.

We are making great food, Tyler even insisting that are food is prettier and fancier.

“Fancier, and Fancier.”

Its not enough, we can’t overcome the desert challenge that Brunch Babes wins and their choice of taking the flat $200 sends us home. It was a great experience, one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life. There was a lot of sacrifice from my loved ones at home, work and my community.

I am grateful that Craig asked along for this journey. I am very lucky to have met and become friends with Kyle as well. Big Thank you to Katie for applying for the show which without that, we wouldn’t be talking about it.

We did good. Honestly, in the beginning we really didn’t think we would make it past week 2. We made it to the final 4 on The Great Food Truck Race Season 10!

I guess that’s what life is all about. Someone’s momma must have said something like that. Going a little farther than you thought that you could go. (And no, I’m not talking about Prom night.) What I’m talking about is doing something you’ve never done before, doing better at it than you thought you would, and having an awesome experience to reflect back on in your old age.

Or something like that. In the meantime, I’m getting back to getting a little wild in the woods.

Steve Weston # saucysteve

In The Wild Chef

Reel Recovery-What’s Reel Recovery?

Sometimes, we can do a bad job advocating. Sometimes it’s easy to advocate for ourselves, and sometimes it’s not, depends on the person. But sometimes the things we keep private, are the things we should be shouting from the rooftops about, so here’s me shouting, and here’s the rooftops.

So what’s Reel Recovery?

“Reel Recovery was founded in 2003, by a group of avid fly-fishers, inspired by their fishing buddy’s ongoing battle with brain cancer. Witnessing first-hand the beneficial impact fly-fishing provided their friend, they created Reel Recovery to provide the same opportunity for other men battling the disease. Combining expert fly-fishing instruction with directed “courageous conversations”, the organization provides men with all forms of cancer a unique opportunity to share their stories, learn a new skill, form lasting friendships and gain renewed hope as they confront the challenges of cancer”.

Being recruited by Travis Swartz,  I was very fortunate to be able to help these folks out at the Mackay Idaho Retreat in July of 2015. I was honored to cook for the fishing buddies, and help out where I could. Having seen my Dad fight (and lose) a long battle with Bladder Cancer for 25 years and losing my Father in law to the deadly disease made me curious as to what they were feeling.

I learned that the most common complaint about friends and loved ones is some of them, and in some cases all of them, fade away from the person living with cancer. I heard that they felt treated like they had communicable disease. Their friends didn’t understand it or didn’t want to be around it, like it was something that could be “caught”.

At a time when they need their loved ones around them the most, the visits, phone calls, texts, skypes, tweets, DM’s, messages and emails get the most scarce. Listening to these courageous men put a punch to my gut. Is society mostly walking away from it and not giving their support? It breaks your heart. I felt so small, like any of my troubles couldn’t compare to the emotional trauma caused by the abandonment these men are feeling.

Something as simple as being able to be a little uncomfortable could mean the world to someone suffering from cancer, so I challenge all of you (including myself) to send that message, make that call, drop by, whatever you have to do to remind them that they aren’t cancer; they are a person living with cancer. It could make all the difference.

I know, my blog is about camp food, and there was food prepared at this retreat. I didn’t see it coming, I felt good initially about going and helping and came home humbled, saddened by the stories of loneliness and battles lost. Also, there is a ton of positives, the lifelong relationships that you create and the comrade you develop with the entire clan. The day we left for our different places of abode was warm and joyful but also full of tears. I for one plan on not taking for granted that people living with cancer. I am going to be there even if it’s a small amount of my life.

Cancer Sucks!
As I prepare for my 5th retreat, being one of the self-appointed State Coordinators (Chef of the Buddies) I have had much more joy and sadness from those lives that touched me. Some of the participants that I was close to have passed: Dayle Temple and Mark Minor- Be Well, Fish on! Others have lived to fight another day.

The Buddies are selfless professional Fishing guides who lay their life down for 12-15 Participants (Men Living with Cancer) for 3 days. Amazing people for a great cause. The men living with cancer get to forget about the brevity of their disease, and get to enjoy the great outdoors with people that have similar issues and life challenges.

I encourage you to check out their website, and learn more about how this organization supports men living with cancer.

I discovered that while fly-fishing, I was in another place. In this place there was no cancer, no pain and no fear.

-In their words, Reel Recovery

Episode 5; Great Food Truck Race, Season 10-Fort Meyers

That’s right, we made it to the Final 4 on the Great Food Truck Race, season 10. Heading to Fort Lauderdale next, Florida. Party Town, USA. The kind of place that would have made Motley Crue cry “Uncle!” in the ’80’s. But let’s talk about Fort Meyers!

So, first off, you know that geek-skill that everyone has, that they secretly hope someday will come in handy? Like that scene in the Goonies where the girl took piano lessons when she was a child, and consequently can play the right notes on the bone piano and saves the day? Well Kyle has had a secret geek-skill up his t-shirt sleeve this whole time and it was……

Grumpy Gators….

Gator Wrastlin’! Good job Kyle on lightning fast speedy placement of the Gator to give his team a 1 hour advantage. That’s a resume bullet-point for sure, and applicable in so many areas of life (dealing with customers, managers, you name it!) That 1-hour advantage was HUGE for us!

Happy gators, but no happy secret judges. Apparently Nick AKA Joe DiMaggio Jr (Jr )was not impressed with our rendition of a Gator Burger. We took the risk that Tyler told us to, we ground gator in with our ground beef butter, blue cheese and bacon. With gator meat you have to cook it, you can’t serve it rare, so there just wasn’t enough juice to meet Joe’s criteria, but everybody in Fort Myers loved it (they bought hundreds of them,) so we will just call that a difference of opinion (one opinion) and move on.

Who’s eating who?

We did well in Fort Myers, we never stopped selling, we never stopped cooking, even ran out of food with 15 minutes left to go. This competition is really heating up, and there is a lot of talent here. We’re all figuring out how to play the game, as it’s being played.

At the end of the day, we were very sad to see our home slices go (Madea Made). Dray was one of if not the best cook in this competition, and I know we aren’t the only ones who enjoyed having them along for this wild ride. GREAT people, making GREAT food. We miss them!

Madea Made!

Final four baby, yeah! Who’d of thought three Idaho boys would have ever made it this far? Party city, here we come!

Final 4 baby, yeah! Moving on to Ft Lauderdale.

Wild in the 5B; Day-Tripper or Weekend Easy Backpacker

On any given day, spring, summer, winter or fall, there are many things to do in Idaho. And the great thing about our great outdoors, is that the fortune-none can play just as hard as the Fortune 100. The outdoors is almost free, and if you know where to go and what to expect, you can experience everything that Idaho has to offer with your champagne tastes and beer-budget.

One of my favorite things to do in Idaho is to day hike or backpack into the Smoky Mountains near Ketchum, Idaho. Now the Smoky Mountains most are familiar with are filled with banjos and coal dust, but here, they are filled with Subaru’s and Patagonia t-shirts. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy everything they have to offer (heck, I made it up there in my trail-modified sedan, i.e., I have hit some rocks and it’s got more ground clearance than it had before.)

Whether it be for a backpacking, fly fishing, or just a day hike, it’s not too far from Boise and offers a lot of amenities along the way. Just approximately a 3 hour drive from the City of Trees, and you can arrive at the trail head at Baker Lake, the Smoky Mountains. It’s even got a bathroom at the base, in case you brought your mother-in-law or a wilderness-shy four year old girl packing a Barbie doll. It’s an easy 2 miles with a 1000′ gain. At the end of the trail you are rewarded with one of the prettiest lakes and peak that serves as a backdrop, which also happens to be the name of the peak, Backdrop Peak.

Glacial-fed water is there to filter with your Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter, or cast your favorite fly to secure your 2 trout daily limit. Also on your way to the trail-head, you run through Ketchum Idaho. It has all the amenities that you need and may have forgotten, or if you just want to feel bougie and buy socks made out of angel’s peach fuzz (organic, of course).

My stop on this day was to get something that was forgotten, that led me to a couple that was looking at freeze dried food, so I suggested Alpine Aire for their meal, and they happily grabbed up the packets that I suggested. Always like to see folks upping their game when they are out on the trail, and seeing their eyes get big when they realize how easy it is to do! The staff at Backwoods Mountain Sports are incredible, you can tell they really know their stuff, and care about the experience you’re going to have when you get out there.

At the end of your venture as you exit the Wood River Valley, you can arrive at the Snow Bunny drive-in in Hailey, Idaho. Next to the airport, you can get back all those calories you lost hiking up to Baker Lake, by indulging in their great burgers, fries and milkshakes.

Another great spot to stop on your way up to Ketchum from Boise, is Picabo Angler, in Picabo, Idaho. If you have time either on your way to this adventure or on your way home and fly fishing is your thing, please stop! (short 10 mile detour) this is one of the greatest fly shops that we have in our great state, and you could spend an hour just looking around.

Great Food Truck Race, Episode 4; Tampa

We won the day, we won Tampa!

Having Craig’s family there picked up his spirits, but also did wonders for Kyle and myself….borrowing some love from it all like you’d borrow a little sugar from your neighbor! We all have a lot of love and support pushing us through every day, and we are grateful for it.

But going from sweet to salty, we should have won the Cuban Challenge. That’s right, I said it. Craig grew up here and mastered the Cuban Slider operation, directing Kyle and myself. He did good. But not everyone needs to agree with us, even though they are wrong. (Folds arms over chest with a grunt.)

But, we did win the Grouper challenge, by dusting the fish with flour and cornmeal instead of frying it on the flattop. Deep frying it to perfection and making a slider out of it was a smooth move, and paring it with an incredible sauce made it bounce even more! We did find the strength to resist calling our fans “groupies” for this challenge, which made us feel pretty proud of ourselves.

First day at Sparkman’s wharf we were limited to just selling the Frankie. So, we made Cuban sliders to make up for it and we rocked it! Day two we were beset by horrible weather, otherwise known as rain if you are afraid of a leaky truck. Kyle landed us at this great place called The Patio Bar. What a cool place, corrugated metal meets Tiki lounge. The people were outstanding, and the ownership put out to call to arms for us. The patrons started to amass, and all of them came to our truck in the pouring down rain, followed by Craig’s family.

Just an amazing experience. I would love to have that bar in my back yard, heck and the people too for that matter. Nothing more charming than a bunch of supportive, hungry day drinkers!

Kyle is rocking the front of the house, bringing in people and orders and Craig and I are killing it in the kitchen. (however, Kyle is our Pico De Galo producer) The team is really starting to fire on all cylinders, and donut ask us about the doughnut challenge, because it’s all been washed away by the rain, and chased away by the grouper!

Our dear friends from Madea Made; Andre, Hope and Faith steal $100 from our till from winning the Cuban challenge, I guess they knew we was the team to beat! We still love them; they are our peeps! Still, has no effect on our winning total, as we win the Grouper Challenge with an extra $400 in our coffers.

Its apparent now that we have what it takes to win this WHOLE thing, $50,000! So we are moving on to Gator country, Fort Meyers with big expectations and feeling very good about ourselves. Let’s just put it this way; if our operation stays as tight as Bon Jovi’s pants in the 1980’s, we’ll win for sure!