The Great Food Truck Race Week 5: It All Goes South in Memphis

This week on The Great Food Truck Race the four remaining teams headed to Memphis, where a series of twists and turns led to a shocking elimination. After Seabird’s exit last week, Lime Truck was somewhat shaken by nearly being sent home, but came back with a renewed energy and killer menu. Once the teams arrived they were given ingredients to create their own barbecue sauce, as well as butcher a 100 pound hog, smoke it and serve it with their newly-made barbecue sauce. Memphis BBQ veteran Jim Neely judged teams’ work and proclaimed Roxy’s the winner of the challenge. For winning, Roxy got $500 additional seed money and a head start in the elimination challenge while the other three teams had to clean up the rest of the hog to donate to a local food bank.

Each team was given $500 to start, more than in previous weeks, and Roxy’s immediately parked downtown to set up their truck. Hodge Podge parked by a restaurant they had a connection with, Lime parked outside Bluefin Restaurant where they purchased seafood for their menu, and Korilla headed to Beale Street, where for the first time in the competition they found they weren’t in a great location, with only a small line. Hodge Podge managed to open first; even beating Roxy’s which had a significant head start.

In the Speed Bump, Tyler Florence told the teams they would have to switch to an entirely vegetarian menu. Roxy’s and Lime transitioned immediately, even though Lime Truck spent a good amount of their seed money on seafood. Hodge Podge closed to visit a grocery store and rethink their menu, while Korilla got tofu delivered to them for tofu tacos. The next day a local blogger called the Chubby Vegetarian was sent to try food from each truck and lend them some publicity, and the truck he declared the winner would be safe from elimination. As the day winded down, Roxy’s had the longest consistent line so the other three trucks went to a park where a concert was being held for more business, but the crowd was not as large as expected. Hodge Podge lost electricity, and all three trucks felt they had under-performed this week.

As the elimination finally approached, Tyler Florence warned the trucks that today would not be a good day for them. First he announced that the Chubby Vegetarian announced the Lime Truck as the winner, saving them from elimination. The blogger remarked that the Lime Truck’s food was some of the best food he’d ever had. Tyler ten announced that one of the teams tried to cheat; New York’s own Korilla BBQ put some of their own money in the cash box to increase profits, violating the rules. Even though Hodge Podge had the lowest sales for the week, Korilla was eliminated for cheating.

Next week the three remaining teams head to Atlanta, Georgia. For full coverage of The Great Food Truck Race click here.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

The Great Staten Island Foodie Truck-athon is On!

This Saturday, September 17th, The Great Staten Island Foodie Truck-athon will be held in honor of the borough’s 350th birthday. The event was originally meant to be held at the end of August, but was postponed due to the hurricane.

For the event several of the city’s finest food trucks will gather in Lot A of the St. George Esplanade just off the Staten Island Ferry. The total list of impressive food vendors for this event includes Wafels & Dinges, The Desi Food Truck, The Frying Dutchmen, The Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Cupcake Stop. In total there will be fourteen food trucks present, and the event offers free entry from 11-5PM. The event also will feature DJs from Manhattan City Music and limited edition prize giveaways. For a great time this weekend come celebrate Staten Island and explore the anniversary of this borough with some great food.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

2.5 Million New Yorker’s Have Trouble Affording Enough Food

Startling news came in from the USDA today about hunger and poverty rates in New York City. The survey measured results from 2008 and 2010, and found that 2.5 million New Yorkers couldn’t afford enough food, a 50 percent increase from a similar survey taken from 2005 and 2007. The data goes deeper to note that 702,000 state residents are classified as officially going hungry, while one in seven cannot afford food at some point in a given year. These results are higher than any ever recorded before, and mark a severe problem in New York.

According to the USDA, numbers leveled off in 2010 after a three year drop, but have taken a turn for the worse. High levels of funding for state-sponsored programs may have accounted for less hunger in recent years, but recent budget cuts may have reversed this. In 2010 President Obama and Congress cut federal funding for food banks, soup kitchens and food pantries by 40% nationwide (and in New York City).

Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger said “This is the highest level of state hunger since the government started counting it. This new data proves that, over the last few years, millions of New Yorkers were at the edge of an economic cliff, with many falling off into hunger but some barely hanging on with the aid of government nutrition programs”.

New Yorker’s inside and outside of the food industry can help to rectify this situation. Nonprofits organizations are always looking for volunteers, like the Hot Bread Kitchen, which offers training to low income women to develop their own businesses. Other organizations like City Harvest work to collect excess food from restaurants and deliver them to those in need. With hunger rates rising and government programs declining, more weight than ever falls upon our efforts and those of nonprofits to keep our city full.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Vendy Awards Dessert Nominees Announced!

Today the Street Vendor Project’s Vendy Awards announced its five dessert nominees for this year’s upcoming competition. Relative new players in the mobile dessert world, the nominees are Miss Softee, La Bella Torte, Cupcake Crew, Wooly’s and La Newyorkina. These finalists were chosen by anyone who wished to cast a vote, and many exceptional dessert vendors were snubbed this year.

Veteran trucks like Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and Coolhaus have received plenty of media attention for their original creations, but fans chose newer treat vendors over these traditional favorites. Hoboken’s La Bella Torte has only been around for five months, but serves some truly unique desserts, including an olive oil, rosemary and blood orange cake. Wooly’s Truck specializes in Hawaiian and Taiwanese shaved ices, and takes a different approach to the standard shaved ice recipe. This truck blends delicious flavors together in ice, then shaves them off and covers them with a variety of toppings, such as fresh fruit.

Miss Softee is a woman who has served signature ice cream cones from a Mister Softee ice cream truck for the last two years no longer operates from her truck, but still makes scheduled appearances for events. La Newyorkina serves handmade gourmet Mexican ice pops with unusual flavors, like cucumber lime or mango chili with real fruit slices. The last nominee, Cupcake Crew, serves gourmet cupcakes with an Italian appeal. Many are stuffed with cannoli cream, and owner Frankie Francollo constantly tricks out his cupcakes to stay ahead of the competition.

The Seventh Annual Vendy Awards will be held on September 24th at Governors Island. Tickets are already sold out, so if you’re one of the lucky ones who already ordered a ticket, be sure t try out these diverse desserts.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

The Great Food Truck Race Week 4: The Truck’s Get Schooled in Kansas College Town

This week the five remaining teams drove out to the college town of Manhattan, Kansas, where they faced a series of challenges ultimately resulting in one team being eliminated. After dominating performances last week and weeks before that, Lime Truck was bested in the first Truck Stop challenge by Seabirds Truck. The teams were all granted a $5 debit card to come up with an original recipe and impress a Kansas City food critic. The Seabirds created a raw food cupcake with barbecue sauce, and they were awarded exclusive access to a huge restaurant/bar area, while the rest of the trucks duked it out for space on campus.

The teams were each given $400 to plan their menus for the elimination phase of the challenge. Seabirds had a huge crowd waiting for them after shopping, Roxy’s pulled away from the rest and the other three teams set up at City Park, where college students had already anticipated their arrival. Tyler Florence introduced the speed bump early this time, immediately requiring the teams to price everything on their menu under $1. Some trucks with planned expensive menus had more trouble with this than others, but many made do. Korilla introduced $1 tacos, and Roxy’s made grilled cheese sliders. The Lime Truck based its menu off $8-$10 dollar items, and the Seabirds made $1 half sandwiches but worried that they were charging too little for their premium products, and began falling behind on their orders again. Several teams headed back to reconfigure their menus, while others targeted bar crowds and prepared for the next day.

The next day the teams faced similar large crowds, but the difficulty was in filling orders quickly and dealing with low the menu prices. Hodge Podge Truck began pulling customers off Korilla’s long lines to take orders. I thought a fight was about to break out when the Korilla guys confronted them about having no food truck etiquette in front of many customers, but Hodge Podge just kept taking the customers they could get.

In the end, Korilla BBQ came out on top again, with $5,245, and Roxy’s in a close second with $5,132. The Lime Truck and Seabirds were in the bottom 2, and in the end Seabirds got eliminated selling less than Hodge Podge and Lime truck. Next week the teams head to Memphis, Tennessee to create all vegetarian menus, as the Seabirds lament that they won’t be there for what could have been a triumphant week for them.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Gusta Helps Food Lovers Connect to Exclusive Events

New website Gusta offers access to some of the most exclusive food events around the globe, with limited tickets to new and upcoming events. This idea has already emerged in various other websites and apps, such as grubwithus and spoondate. Gusta is essentially a means for chefs to promote events and invite patrons without spending many hours handling invites and payments. Gusta also takes time out of searching for events in the elaborate ‘underground dining scene’ in many cities.

Gusta works with chefs to promote events, as customers can subscribe to events they may be interested in, and Gusta will automatically tout these events through email and various social media platforms. All payments for events can be made securely on the website, and chefs have ultimate control over all features pertaining to their events.

The events published on Gusta are ‘underground’, so difficult to locate but gaining in number around the world. The site handles multiple currencies, establishing it as a decidedly international website, and charge 10% per ticket, leaving the rest to the chefs. 10% is a small toll though for access to some of the world’s most unique dining experiences. Supper clubs offer chef-inspired creations in vastly different settings, ranging from mansions to small homes. No matter the cuisine, trying out Gusta ensures a one of a kind dining experience.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Great, Quality Lunch: Amma Restaurant

Amma is a delightful Indian restaurant located in midtown, Manhattan on 51st Street. Aside from their delicious lunch and dinner menus and immense wine selection, their takeout lunch menu is great as well, and perfect for a delicious break in the middle of the day. The lunch specials are moderately priced, ranging from $9-$12 for a complete takeout lunch box. These boxes are more than enough for one person, and come loaded with the main dish of your choice, rice, naan, a vegetable of the day, and daal. For the main dish customers can choose from a variety of meat, cooked in different sauces, or from one of Amma’s many vegetarian specials.

Having tried Amma’s lunch specials many times before, I can attest to the quality of nearly every dish. The sauces are always rich and full-bodied, with generous chunks of tender meat in them. The rice is flavorful as well, but the sauces completely overpower their taste. Some of the richest dishes are the lamb vindaloo or chicken tikka masala. Daal is usually never a flavorful food, but Amma’s daal is mildly sweet and delicious all on its own. The vegetables vary by day, by are cooked in a traditional Indian style and complement well with the rich sauces. One of the most irresistible parts of these lunch specials is the naan. Perfectly flaky and cooked just right, the naan is packaged in tin foil to retain its heat and is delicious by itself or paired with some of the complementary sauces. Overall, Amma is one of New York City’s finest Indian restaurants, and their lunch special is a deal not to miss.You can order from Amma online here.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

The Great Food Truck Race Week 3: Trucks Get Swept Away by the Windy City

Last night on The Great Food Truck Race the six remaining teams raced their way to Denver, Colorado, where they were granted even less money and more crippling speed bumps. Once again the teams had to utilize their own knowledge of the area and their local contacts to stay ahead of the competition, while making risky alliances with others.

The first truck stop challenge required the food trucks to create an original recipe based on wild mushrooms that they gathered themselves, and an assortment of vegetables provided by host Tyler Florence. Their dish would then be judged by local Denver chef, Frank Bonnano, and the winner would get some helpful publicity on Good Morning America, as well as $200 for the elimination phase of the show. After each team prepared their dishes, Bonnano gave them all praise but awarded Lime Truck the victory, leaving the vegan Seabirds Truck devastated that they lost a veggie-based challenge. All the trucks were soon devastated however; as they learned that they would receive no seed money and would have to find their own ingredients (except Lime truck).

Once again the food trucks proved their resourcefulness by gathering ingredients on their own. The Lime Truck and Hodge Podge formed an early alliance, though why Hodge Podge would ever trust these guys after what they did last week is beyond me. The trucks all loaned or struck deals with local establishments, to get ingredients. Café con Leche, Hodge Podge and Lime Truck all charged very high prices for sandwiches, and Seabirds suffered from slow service. Korilla BBQ eased along just fine in a great location, and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese noticed a significant recovery from last week’s near elimination.

The next day the trucks resumed their sales, but faced one of the show’s ‘speed bumps’ in which each truck would have to operate with only one person doing ll the work. The trucks all handled this differently, Korilla played rock, paper, scissors to decide who would operate the truck, Roxy’s called it “a nightmare”, Hodge Podge was confident, Lime took group orders over single orders, and Seabirds got even slower. As sales slowed and trucks relocated, Korilla and Roxy’s crashed Café con Leche’s location, and Seabirds lamented that this might be their last week.

When all was said and done however, Seabirds scraped a fifth place finish, while Lime and Korilla dominated the competition, each making near $7,000. Café con Leche was sent home, losing only by $87 and noting that the high bill they owed to the restaurant that lent them food probably cost them the game. Next week the five remaining trucks head to Manhattan, Illinois, a college town where no doubt they will create some delicious munchie food for their ravenous customers.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Kimchi Taco Truck, A New Take on Korean Fusion

The Kimchi Taco Truck stops in midtown for lunch during weekdays, and offers yet another take on the increasingly popular Korean fusion food genre. As one of the few food trucks still around midtown, we decided to check it out to see what all the buzz was about. That, and the mouthwatering photos the truck posted to it’s twitter. The truck offers a variety of tacos, “kim” cheese steaks, burrito bowls, and authentic Korean sides like spicy rice cakes. We opted to try the most notable menu item, the Kimchi taco. The menu was pricier than we’d hoped, but for $7 we got three kimchi tacos, choosing the Korean BBQ beef over the spicy pork and pulled chicken.


The taco’s came in a biodegradable box, it seems that all of the Kimchi Truck’s packaging is biodegradable, including their utensils, straws and bags. The tacos were packed full of beef and kimchi, and topped with scallions and cilantro. The kimchi was definitely authentic, pungent enough that it smelled through the bag and still left a lingering smell in our office. Adding kimchi to a taco is sheer brilliance, it went amazingly with the scallions and cilantro, and created a truly unique taste. We were sadly underwhelmed by the beef however. It was cut in smaller pieces than I expected and the texture was more like ground beef than Korean BBQ. The kimchi may have overpowered some of its taste, but the beef was a little too mild, and we could hardly taste it beneath the flavorful toppings. The soft taco shell was pretty standard, though a little tough sometimes.

Overall we found the kimchi to be the best part of the entire taco, while the beef was much blander than other Korean BBQ trucks like Bapcha or Korilla. Our advice: order a side of kimchi for $3 and get the rest of your meal somewhere else.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

New Calorie Counting App Takes Information from Food Pictures

Mealsnap is a new iPhone app that takes knowledge from pictures of food and translates this into caloric content for its users. Mealsnap was developed by a fitness social network called DailyBurn, which has already created several iPhone applications relating to dieting and fitness. The app takes effect after its user takes a picture of their food, then the picture is inetrally matched across a database of 500,000 items, and responds to the user with a range of calories for the photographed item.

Beyond that, the app can give a range of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins of the photographed food. The app has a sharing option as well where users can tell their friends about what they’ve eaten through any of the well-known social media platforms.

The long-term implications of this app aim to help users become more health conscious and keep track of what they eat. The app can be used a food journal, allowing users to keep track of their daily intake through a photo log with full nutritional facts attached. Sharing what they’ve eaten may also help users take more accountability in their dieting, and help them stick to a healthy eating pattern.

MealSnap is available for 99 cents at the iTunes store.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com