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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)

Well if it was fixed, then so was the Next Food Network Star. They gushed over Aarti all season and wonder of wonders, she wins, even though she didn't go as good a job. Makes me sick. All of these shows are fixed. Look at Master Chef? I expected better of Gordon Ramsay than to pick a stupid little twit over an established chef. Fried chicken steak on collard greens looks like slop next to Beef Wellington.

RE: 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.


(If they really didn't) I'm guessing they never introduced him because they wanted you to believe that he was some kind of chef. Based on my experiences with their food, I doubt that any of them are chefs, or even Vietnamese... It's more likely they are just accountants or finance-majors from UCLA. These Asians make Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X. They make a generic product that is easy to make, and they don't seem to add anything to it, but their marketing is great, so they do phenomenally.

Its funny how people can say the show was rigged in the last episode for Nom Nom when Grill Em needed the Truck Stop to save themselves in past episodes.
Grill-em had a pretty poor performance record.

If there was NO truckstops Grill-Em would have never made it to the finale but Nom Nom would still be there.

If the show was "fair" they would have counted the TOTAL monies made throught the episodes but then Nom Nom would have been declared winner without a finale to aire since they dominated with 5 wins in a row.

I also think its odd they didn't record Nom Nom's race to the finish even though they were 1st to leave Union Square... why the mystery?

It looks like the show was rigged to help Grill Em since they never should have made it to the finale.


Burgers are easy to make as the challenge proved.
Not to mention everyone I know can make a great burger on their grill probably better than the Grill Em guys.

All food network shows are rigged. Look at the next food network star Melissa D'Arabian - couldn't cook a hard boiled egg if her life depended on it.

Just for one week I'd like to see a Anywhere But New York City Week on the Food Network. They can profile chefs, restaurants, whatever, anywhere in this great country except NYC, even Yonkers would be acceptable. That's enough New York City already!

Lot of bitter people in here - relax folks, it's just a tv show - an entertainment show at that. I do think the format should be tweaked somehow - like maybe the final three episodes are based on a cumulative tally of money made, something like that - it doesn't seem right that a team could rock so hard until the very end and then lose it to a team that has struggled with ups and downs. But then again, it's just a game, right?

This race was suspenseful and fun the whole time, until the end. Hate how the winner was chosen, not because I wanted nom nom to win, but the way the winner was decided! nom nom is ahead the whole race, Grill em All a disappointment the whole race, and the winner is decided on how New York City choses them? Why go across the country if the only criteria is how they do in one city? I wont watch it again. - if I did, I might as well wait to the last episode. And, what does racing to the top of a building have to do with a food truck? stupid.

I can't believe all of these comments. So sure the show was fixed or manipulated, huh... You all know so much about TV.

Am I looking forward to a Season 2? Yes. And I didn't get to watch much of Season 1. Being able to keep up with the story on the internets keeps the dream alive though :)

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.

Posted by: Susan | September 20, 2010 at 03:44 PM

cuz burgers are really hard to make. grill em all beat out spencer's by only $37 despite winning the truck stop and having access to a huge venue with access to hundreds of customers that the other two trucks didn't have in the 2nd to last episode so.. yeah.

It's funny how everyone is so quick to hate on the winning team. Yes, there were things that seemed rigged but you really believe that it was rigged only in Grill Em All's favor? Did anyone bother to think about the fact the Nom Nom killed everyone else in every single city by over $1,000 when some of the other trucks had much longer lines and ended up only tens of dollars apart? Or the fact that Nom Nom decided not to play the game and participate in the truck stop challenge in Santa Fe? Or that they took their meat to a butcher while everyone else did it themselves; including Austin Daily Press that had no idea what to do with the meat? Or what about Austin Daily Press having the olive salad already made and sold to them? Or even the fact and the team that didn't win a single truck stop won the last one that let them skip an entire borough?!? Isn't all of this cheating as well? This is a tough show. Each truck is taken away from the cities and people they know and forced to basically start a whole new business in a new town in a weekend? The Grill Em All guys fought hard, cooked with their hearts and won the competition. C'mon guys, give it a rest. They deserve the win and all the trucks deserve a congratulations for all the crap they had to endure.

Also, I don't recall them showing Nom Nom leave for the Flatiron building at all. Is this something I missed?

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.

Posted by: Susan | September 20, 2010 at 03:44 PM

cuz burgers are really hard to make. grill em all beat out spencer's by only $37 despite winning the truck stop and having access to a huge venue with access to hundreds of customers that the other two trucks didn't have in the 2nd to last episode so.. yeah.

Posted by: kidcudi | September 20, 2010 at 11:27 PM

Keyword there is "access" to hundreds of people. Remember the beginning of the show when they showed a clip of the local news talking about the trucks being in the town square? And if you search Jonesborough Food Network, there is tons of press about them being in Jonesborough that weekend and all the television media showing the trucks and interviewing Tyler Florence about the show? I would assume that almost everyone in a 50 mile radius would coming into the town and see what all the fuss is about. I think Nom Nom and Spencer had the upper hand on this one thanks to the media.

I was SO happy Nom Nom lost, especially with the butcher episode...seems like Food network wanted them to win.. sorry Food network! I hope next year it is the number of tickets written or something else than the total dollar count. It seems like Nom Nom had a more expensive product vs. the other carts thus no other truck could ever win. And TOTALLY agree on the 2nd to last challenge, does not seem to be any conciveable way that Nom Nom won when they had to stay behind and Grill 'em all went to the fair...
Yee Ha for Grill'em All!

Least not forget, the other trucks wanted Nom Nom to lose....

I didn't realize there were so many critical chefs out there. Burgers may not be the hardest thing to make but neither are bahn mis, pressed sandwiches or even crepes.

No one really knows what happened during the show and I doubt any Food Network execs will tell us. Grill Em All was the underdog throughout the show and ended up on top. Upsets happen all the time; like the latest Top Chef. Kevin, ended up on the bottom many times throughout the season came back at the end to beat the clear front runner, Angelo, in Singapore doing Asian cuisine (his specialty) with Hung Huynh (specializes in Asian cuisine) as his sous chef.

Saying that Grill Em All would've lost earlier without the help of the Challenges is unfair too. These trucks obviously had to take a large chunk of their time to participate in the Challenge and probably couldn't sell during that time. While all the trucks were butchering their own meat, Nom Nom decided to take the easy way out and give it to a butcher and probably went back and sold for a few more hours while no one else could. But I wasn't there and I'm sure none of you were either.

Give the show a little credit. They gave a quite entertaining show that showcased the different foods being offered and the insight of how hard it is to open a truck.

Calvino, you're way off. TV is TV...seems you didn't exactly read the entire article either. Brenda, that's not cheating. Then it would also count as cheating when Spencer on the Go helped Grill em all right? Yeah....think agian.

The Grill 'Em All guys are douche bags! First they back-stabbed Baby's Badass Burgers where the dirty, scruffy looking guy first worked, by stealing their truck concept and menu.
Then on the show they sold-out the Austin Press people not once, but TWICE (though I still don't know how/why the Austin Press people rooted for them).

Their douche bags and no where near as good as Nom Nom or Baby's Badass Burgers for that matter.

Somebody really needs to rethink those truck stops for season two. The point of those challenges is to give the winner a bit of an advantage, not to make it virtually impossible for them to lose (I'm talking to you, Spencer on the Go). The truck stop in the finale was a joke - it really did seem like the producers realized Grill Em All might be headed for the roof of the Flatiron within the next HOUR, and scrambled for a reason to stop them. "Oh, you only need to sell 100 more burgers to win and you've got people lined up around the block? Well, STOP and go to bed! Get some sleep! Safety first!!" What a crock.

So happy Grill Em All won, they so deserved to win. They struggled every step to get to the last challenge, so it was nice to see it pay of for them. Thought the last truck stop really played in Nom Nom's favor, so I was really happy GEA took it in the end.

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