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!

Episode 3: The Great Food Truck Race, Daytona Beach

“If ain’t first, you’re last.” -Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights; The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Well, as we all come to find out, that isn’t necessarily so. As Ricky Bobby’s father Reese puts it so eloquently.

That’s right. There’s wisdom there, and we really learned it this week!

Wow, what an amazing place, full of energy! We were vaulted onto the Daytona Speedway …ON the Racetrack with our Food Trucks! Very cool lifetime experience. You never realize how steep that bank is until you (try) and drive up on it. Food Trucks, unlike stock cars, are NOT built for speed.

We find out that that one of the contestants is going home. Citing emotional strain, and there’s no doubt about it, it’s tough! Being away from your loved ones and your life, sacrifices from all our support network and ourselves, plus the added stress of a competition really burns your wick at both ends! We were sad to see her go.

Sad and of course that leaves Sol Food Collective in a difficult situation, now with two team members. It’s hard enough with just 3! They were sure catching some rough breaks!

Also, at this greeting meeting we are told of our next challenge, Donuts. I’ve made many donuts, specifically a Maple Bacon Bar. I tell my team members, we got this. I know how to do this. We were given an instant mix of sorts with inaccurate directions but in hindsight, I should have been able to figure it out. But I don’t and the donut we put in front of Tyler makes him gag. The oil was not hot enough and the donut dough was like a funnel cake batter! Again, should have added more flour and rolled them out. Word to myself, “Stephen, donut make that mistake again!”

So, what we lost was time. The winners got to open, and the rest of us must play corn-hole against the other 6 trucks, and score 50 points before we can start selling. Because we have Kyle and Craig who are good a corn-hole and my luck beginner points we quickly advance back to our truck in 10 minutes and start selling.

Daytona Beach was very slow in sales, not many on the Beach on the Boardwalk, and not many buying any of our food. Travis with Rolling Indulgence lands a big one with the Arizona Sate Gymnastics team but other than that, nada, zip… very few people. Also a disappointment that it was the MEN’S Arizona State Gymnastic team….but I digress…..

Our saving grace through this, is that we are all in the same boat, er truck.

We have made a connection with our fellow competitors, and are becoming a family. Sol Collective struggled with a team member leaving and Malyessa going to the hospital with a Kidney Stone! We don’t want our friends, (any of them) to get eliminated. Seems odd, it’s a competition but we are bonding as a strange little family. 


We have a legendary goodbye party for our friends, and we take 3RD place. We are starting to maybe figure this stuff out? After all, as our former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “America is all about speed; hot nasty, bad-ass speed.”


On to Tampa Florida, full speed ahead!

Episode 2; Hilton Head Island, SC-Back 9 BBQ

Hilton Head Island South Carolina, beautiful place. One of the Golf Meccas of the US. We find our self on the 18th green at Harbor Town Golf Links and Sea Pines Resort. The first Challenge is to make a 5 ft putt, so that you can pick your side dish; the dish that you will need to go along with your Carolina BBQ. Naturally, it’s me, I am a Golfer (did I mention that before?) So I’m like, “oh I got this, yeah baby…”

But despite my hubris, I leave the 5 ft put 2 feet short, but we still get the side dish that we wanted. We picked Hush-puppies of course! Sorry to all my golf buddies for my leaving it short!

We get settled in for the day of selling with slow prep times, a missed putt and Boiled Peanuts..what the heck are boiled peanuts? We get buried with orders and seems like we are going down in flames! Ugh, we are going to go home with nothing but peanuts to show for our efforts! But that’s enough peanut and putting puns.


We are trying to learn how to run this food truck. Every time Tyler calls or texts it’s an interruption followed by a challenge… ugh. So, week two with no frozen fries and the culprit now comes to our truck and tries to steal our customers. So then begins The great French fry debate.. fresh cut or frozen?

Peoples Fry takes all the frozen fries and then comes to our truck and tries to steal our customer’s, but Kyle shuts him down… he can’t even answer Kyle’ Question, which is better Fresh or Frozen? It’s all fun and we love our competitors but back off our customers with your Frozen French Fries!

So happy that we advanced to Daytona Beach and our fryer works now. We are starting to get some synergy with the team. We are going to DAYTONA!

And the race continues…