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'The Great Food Truck Race' recap: Grill 'Em All stops Nom Nom in its tracks

Let the conspiracy theories begin.

On the face of it, "The Great Food Truck Race" had a pretty straightforward premise: The gourmet food truck that sells the most, wins. And when the L.A.-based Nom Nom Truck -- and its Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches -- rolled to five straight wins, it seemed like this finale was a foregone conclusion.

But when the apropo L.A. vs. L.A. showdown arrived in New York -- Nom Nom was up against the L.A.-based Grill 'Em All Truck and their monster burgers and fresh fries -- the Nommers hit a rough patch and fell behind. Way behind. Like, a borough behind. Giving the scrappy Grill 'Em All guys the opening they needed to ride their way to a stunning upset victory and a $50,000 pay day.

Cue the heavy metal guitar, boys!  

But was this finale a problem for the show's producers? At least one person thinks that the last Truck Stop challenge was just one more convenient twist to manage the competition instead of just letting the trucks duke it out. Nom Nom Truck's fate was about to be sealed when Ty called a halt to all sales and announced that the trucks would have to swap menus, meaning the burger guys would have to make a banh mi sandwich and the Nommers would have to make a burger. The best dish -- as decided by New York Chef Nate Appleman -- would put Nom Nom back in the game ... and I'm not sure I know what it would have done for the Grill 'Em All guys. But Nom Nom won ... and yet still could not catch up to those decadent burgers.

What do you think? Was this a convenient way to give Nom Nom a much-needed win to get them back into the game? If that's true, is this too much manipulation for your taste? Or do you think that, hey, this is a game and it's up to the producers to make it as suspenseful as possible? (You have to admit that it all made for a much more exciting finale. As much as I loved watching the guys make those heart-attack burgers, it would have been boring to see them just cruise to victory on their way to the Flatiron Building.)

Here's the question I still have: How in the world did Nom Nom fall so far behind? It's not like New Yorkers aren't hip to banh mi sandwiches.

Are you looking forward to a Season 2?

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: The Grill 'Em All Truck guys savor sweet victory -- and the view -- atop Manhattan's Flatiron Building. Credit: Food Network

Comments () | Archives (62)

Nom Nom truck was robbed. They had this competition in the bag. Through out the show, it seems like the rules were made up as the competition progresses. I understand that the show should have some suspense blah blah blah. But they took the win away from Nom Nom truck. I'm sorry Nom Nom :(

A perfect 6-0 record in the truck stop challenge for the team about to lose. Also, it was ridiculous how the bar owner in the Bronx just happened to approach the Nom Nom truck when they were dead in the water. The Grill'Em All truck had to scrounge up that business themselves. I think the producers did everything possible to have the Nom Nom's win, but the Grill 'Em All guys simply refused to lose.

I couldn't be more thrilled. I couldn't stand that silly nom nom truck. I felt like they cheated when they had a butcher cut their beef for them. Way to go Grill'Em All truck!!!

I thought it was strange how the Grill'Em team had no customers at 1 stop until a bunch of "fans" turned up and started calling their friends to come by and buy burgers.

F-Nom Nom!

There were truckstop challenges thruout the series and didn't Grill'em need to win one previously to stay in the game otherwise they never would have made it to the finals?

the same guys who came in third (Spencers) were voted amongst the top 10 trucks NATIONWIDE on travel channel (I think 2nd or 3rd) . Gourmet food trucks really started in LA and not a single truck came from our area on that show so at least I was happy to see them bounced.

The strangest part of the finals is that the Nom Nom truck had driven off before the Grill Em truck did at the last stop implying that they earned their $500 first.

It was the Grill Em team that noticed Nom Nom was already gone.

Did NY Traffic play a part?

What confused me was in the second to last episode: how did Grill Em All fail to beat Nom Nom, after on the second day Nom Nom and the Frenchies had to stay in town and Grill Em had non-stop business?

The disappearance of the Nom Nom truck at Union Square certainly is a mystery. An observant viewer noted that a clock indicated that the Grill 'Em All crew was climbing the building at 3:22 pm, and the Nom Nom's went up the building at 5:05 pm. Where were they in the meantime?

this was an entertaining show. though it had such a strong feeling of being rigged...

and stop whining for Nom Nom, they won a good 50K in travel alone...

the random bar approaching the truck (how did Nom Nom have the EXACT same parking spot as Grill em All??)

Also Nom Nom leaving Manhattan first but last up the building? Did they take the stairs and not the elevator??

the way things played out in the finale and all the truck stops. (I know i couldn't taste the food, but Spencer beating the Louisiana people cooking with spices?? ok, just maybe)...

next year needs to be a little more believable or balanced. and a pretty short show as well.

what was up with the guy in the nom nom truck, he never spoke, they never gave his name. Even if he was just an employee rather than an owner....wierd.

It appeared to clearly be manipulation, but this is entertainment, not reality tv. No one should be surprised by the happenstance of the last "truck stop" event.

If the rules were set up as points accrual, total sales over the entire series or something similar rather than a single elimination format, Nom-nom would have had it sewn up.

I still thought the Austin Daily Press guys were robbed....

Yeah, if you think too much about it, the whole premise of this show is flawed. In theory, a truck that came in 2nd to last all season could make it to the finale, and then beat a truck that won every other challenge, and that's almost what happened.

It's like a football team that is undefeated, and then loses the Super Bowl to a team that had a mixed record. Is the other team really the best team of the year?

If you add up all the money Nom Nom made all season, they clearly trounced Grill Em All. But it's supposed to be entertaining--it's a game, and not to be takedn too seriously.

I would not be surprised if the Nom Nom trucks gets offers from investor to take their concept nationwide, as it is clearly a winning concert.

And the girls were cute.

I never saw the show until the finale. It was quite interesting, I found until that so called challenge to put the losing team back in the game. I'm all for making your show exciting, but this kind of manipulation makes you think that favorites, and possibly, winners are pre determined. I held out for the 'judging' of the challenge, but switched the channel after he proclaimed the burger a 'hands down' winner. Nevermind his criticisms about the size of the patty and not caring for the asparagus. The manipulation was way too obvious and I won't be watching the show again.

Why did they suddenly switch from judging on the most profits to the most sales? Just to help the other team?

Seems to me in the earlier episodes they measured profit (sales - cost of food). Which is why Grill 'Em All served all those hamburgers at the auto show and only made $40 more than guys lounging around the pool. Now all of a sudden it's strictly sales?

Now, I won't watch season 2.

Also Nom Nom leaving Manhattan first but last up the building? Did they take the stairs and not the elevator??
Posted by: pat | September 20, 2010 at 01:48 PM


Wouldn't it be ironic if the team that thought to plant an article in the local newspaper and thought to take the half cow to a butcher didn't think to take the elevator? That would be as bad as the team that forgot to fill the propane tank episode 1.

The show sure looked fixed to me. Nom Nom was losing badly, and then all of a sudden, due to some deux ex machina, they're allowed to bypass Staten Island?

I don't buy the arguments that this was "just" a reality show, so it's okay for the producers to tamper with it. It was a contest as much as Jeopardy is, and I think it should be investigated.

Meanwhile, the Food Network has established themselves as desperately jettisoning their ethics in a desperate search for viewers. Anybody catch that Iron Chef America where the "surprise" secret ingredient was sea urchin, and the contestant just HAPPENED to bring his special sea-urchin opener along?

Did you notice that the Grill Em Guys cheated on the 'truck stop' challenge? They were supposed to "make" a bahn mi but instead they "bought" a bahn mi. The Grill Em All guys also suspiciously won two 'truck stops' during the course of the show that twice saved them from going home. Hmmm?

And what about that BMW that Grill Em All destroyed? How come the moeny to repair it did not come from their sales? Every other team that had an unforeseen expense like that during the show had to pay for it out of their sales. But not Grill Em All. Now here's the rub. If you are going to show Grill Em All cheating by buying a sandwich they were supposed to make and doing a $1000 of damage to a person's car without having to make restitution and then not do anything about it there can only be one reason. You know the controversy will only boost ratings for next year. It's a tried and true formula for Food Network.

It's worked great for Food Network's other cooking "contest." In season four Aaron McCargo Jr. won despite the fact that you cannot not understand a word he mumbles and he spends most of his camera time talking to the back splash. He beat out Lisa Garza, Shane Lyons, Adam Gertler and Kelsey Nixon all of whom where better than he was in virtually every challenge and Adam and Kelsey are now far more popular than McCargo is. But all of the controversy of that season has only cemented NFNS as the top ratings getter in food-oriented programming.

It's about scripted drama that brings in ratings not rewarding the person deserves the win. I have detailed a lot of the suspicious developments in my blog.

Nom Nom didn't deserve to win. Even though they got an advantageous push. They weren't good enough. Those sandwiches are a one trick pony. BORING. They were cocky and snarky and didn't deserve it anyway.

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