A popular food reality competition show is bringing the fun up to the country’s Last Frontier.
“The Great Food Truck Race: Alaska” premiered on March 7, on Food Network. Hosted by Tyler Florence, seven food truck teams are competing to see how will become the top food truck purveyor in Alaska.
When the “Great Food Truck Race” first started in 2010, Florence says that at the time many people were wary of buying meals from a food truck. As the show progressed, Florence believes that it helped shape the culture and acceptance around food trucks.
“Going back to 2010, I remember doing shows like ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘The Today Show’ and people were kind of confused or not really confident about eating off of food trucks because it wasn’t a big thing yet,” said Florence. “It went from a niche to a genre, and I think we really helped gas that to become the amazing industry it has become.”
In “The Great Food Truck Race: Alaska,” the teams, who are completely new to the food truck industry, travel from Anchorage to Fairbanks going head-to-head in high-stakes challenges that test their cooking chops, business skills and ability to face harsh weather conditions that Alaska has to offer, from blizzards to icy mountain roads. The final two teams will go head-to-head in a 72-hour battle, with the winner of the competition bringing home $50,000.
“It’s a great time, fantastic family programming, and it’s really about the nuts and bolts of being a business. If you own a business or want to start a business, it’s a lot of micro-business lessons about buying low and selling high, work ethic, and planning, perseverance and backbone that comes through in every single season,” said Florence. “I think what sets it apart is that they’re trucks. It’s not like a food competition show that takes place in a studio with cupcakes or getting your finger chopped off or whatever. It’s really about this gritty, on the road, live or die by every decision you make. competition show where you could easily see yourself in that particular position of starting from scratch.”
Bringing the show to Alaska has always been a thought in the show’s mind. At this point, Florence says the show has gone across the country multiple times over the past 13 years, so Alaska was an opportunity to spread the show’s wings even further while showcasing some of the great things that Alaska has to offer.
“We’ve crossed the country nine times, and we’ve done these fun micro-routes through the south, through Florida, through the midwest, on route 66, so we’ve been everywhere. Now we’re looking at these moonshot ideas and thinking ‘Okay, now might be the time to pull off ‘The Great Food Truck Race: Alaska,”” said Florence. “We use all kinds of amazing local ingredients like wild Alaskan salmon, moose, this cool tree mushroom called chaga, it’s a native Alaskan anti-oxidant thing. It’s like a big tree mushroom. We had a great time exploring local culture and local food stuff, and the teams rocked it out and brought it home.”
Florence says that the network is toying with the idea of bringing the show to Hawaii. He hopes that someday the “Great Food Truck Race” can make its way over to Europe, or possibly do a North American battle incorporating the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“Right now we are in this moonshot zone because why not? There’s not a highway system going west to east that we haven’t been on, and so we’re looking for new opportunities and new storylines to continue on this journey we’ve been on for 13 years now,” said Florence.
Regardless, Florence is proud of how far the show has come over the years as well as the successes of the past contestants.
“Out of 13 seasons of the show, we’ve had nine teams go on to open successful brick and mortar concepts, so I’m super proud of that,” said Florence. “You can’t really say that with other competition shows. It’s real people doing real things on real streets and real money is involved. So it’s not a taste panel of people who kind of like it and give it a score of 1-5, you have to go out there and earn every single dollar the old fashion way.”
Florence says that those who are tuning in for the rest of the season in for the road trip of a lifetime that will not only show you how beautiful Alaska is, but also take you on a journey alongside the competitors.
“Alaska is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. It’s breathtakingly gorgeous and stark in the winter, there are so many insane challenges that come along with the weather,” said Florence. “If you haven’t been out of your house in a long time like many of us haven’t, you are in for the road trip of a lifetime.”
“The Great Food Truck Race: Alaska” airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on Food Network.