On Thursday, March 19 at 9 p.m., the Food Network premiered The Great Food Truck Race: Gold Coast in which seven teams of aspiring food truck owners from across the country compete for a $50,000 grand prize. Joining them are local chefs Jason Fossee, Alex Carr and Jacob Dooley representing Team Fat Kid from Virginia Beach. The competition features a series of challenges starting in Los Angeles, then moves to San Diego, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, then the finale will be back in Los Angeles.
“Flying out there was an experience in itself,” says Carr. “Two of us had never been to the West Coast before and Dooley had never been on a plane or even been out of Virginia. So, for his first plane trip we took him all the way to the other side of the country.”
Getting into the competition in the first place was actually a matter of being in the right place at the right time. “I was at work, looking up a recipe on the Food Network because we wanted to do something different,” says Fossee. “A pop-up ad appeared saying they were now casting for the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race and I clicked on it. I answered 10 quick questions and three months later I received an email that said, ‘If you’re still interested, we need you to fill out this questionnaire.’”
The three local chefs have been considering a food truck for some time, but one of the stipulations for this particular competition was that the team members have never worked on a food truck previously. “Now that we’ve gotten our feet wet in the food truck world, we’re looking to move forward,” says Jason. They are custom-building a food truck that should be ready sometime in May or June of this year.
Team Fat Kid got its start as sort of a fun teaching experience. “We’re a bunch of chefs that get together frequently,” says Carr. “We started doing what I guess you could say were Sunday night cookouts. We’re big barbecue guys, so we do a lot of smoked meats and things like that, Eventually, after doing it for about a year, someone said ‘you should be recording this.’ So, we did.” They started off with Instagram, continued on to Facebook, and now they do a podcast every Monday on their YouTube channel.
Where did the team name come from? “Our food is very over the top,” explains Fossee. “I would put it in a spectrum of almost carnival food. In a world that’s going toward healthier options, we go in the opposite direction. A good friend of ours came up to me one day and said, ‘Dude, there has got to be a 600-pound fat kid inside you just trying to come out.’ Alex actually coined the term Team Fat Kid because in every person in the world is a fat kid inside who just wants to eat ice cream and do things you’re not supposed to do. A lot of those people have way more control than we do, because we love to eat and we love good food.”
Although the entire season has already been recorded and the guys are back home in Virginia Beach, they can’t spill any details about the competition. However, they could share how valuable the experience was for them. “Obviously, having never worked before on a food truck and wanting to do one, this competition gave us clarity on what to expect and a lot of insight on what to focus on first,” says Carr. “We found out what issues happen most on food trucks and how to plan for failures.”
Fossee agrees. “We also took back a lot from working with the host, Tyler Florence. He was very adamant about his perspectives on marketing yourself, selling yourself and branding yourself. He provided us with some great pointers on how to better market ourselves and how to get people to stop when they are walking or driving by your truck.”