Wednesday, April 17, 2024

In Pictures: Food Network’s Tyler Florence hosts Food Truck Throw Down

Food Network host Tyler Florence speaks to attendees of a GLOW Academy fundraiser before announcing the kickoff of the Food Truck Challenge. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — Celebrity television chef Tyler Florence challenged six local food trucks to a cooking competition as part of a fundraiser for the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington (GLOW).

T’Geaux Boys owner Michelle Rock, more commonly known as ‘Momma Rock,’ was standing near the line of trucks parked outside the Country Club of Landfall early Friday morning before the contest. She didn’t hesitate when asked for her prediction.

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“It’s some stiff competition here,” Rock said. “I’m looking at that big man right back there, my money’s on him. That’s Keith Rhodes; he’s a culinary expert. He can throw it together.”

Sure enough, Rhodes — the owner of Catch restaurant who has earned his own local celebrity status as a James Beard finalist and contestant on Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” — walked away with the victory a few hours later. Each truck was given 45 minutes to make whatever plates they wanted with two proteins revealed by Florence: local oysters, already shucked, and pork tenderloin.

“Whoever wins, it’s a great benefit,” Rhodes said in response. “The fact that we’re not really tied into doing one particular thing, we can do whatever we normally do — I’m expecting awesome food from everybody.”

Before the Food Truck Throw Down began, Florence spoke to the crowd about his time teaching GLOW students some culinary basics the previous day. GLOW is an all-girls public charter school focused on educating girls from low-income families.

“It’s one thing to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, and STEM, but it’s another thing to learn how to feed yourself for the rest of your life,” Florence said.

He discussed his childhood spent in a lower-middle class home in upstate South Carolina, and how washing dishes at a fancy restaurant opened his eyes to the culinary arts. Now, he’s host of “The Great American Food Truck Race,” one of Food Network’s most-watched programs (the show starts its thirteenth season in a few weeks).

When former Food Network President and GLOW founder Judy Girard asked him to come, he was quick to oblige.

“I think she got halfway through that before I said yes,” Florence said. “Because when Judy sends out the bat signal you don’t ask questions, you just go.”

Former Food Network President and GLOW founder Judy Girard asked the network’s star personalities Tyler Florence to help host the fundraiser. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

He then turned his attention to the contest between “Wilmington’s finest food trucks.” With roughly 40,000 food trucks operating in the U.S., according to Florence, the popularity of his show gives a chance for startups to make the next step.

“Out of the twelve seasons we’ve been on the air, we’ve had nine winners go on to open brick-and-mortar restaurants that are successful,” he said.

The competing food trucks were T’Geaux Boys, WilmyWoodie, CheeseSmith, Catch the Food Truck, Goin’ Ham (the burger-centric truck from Poor Piggy’s BBQ), and Bill’s Front Porch.

View photos of the food contest and fundraiser below:

Six food trucks lined up outside the Country Club of Landfall on Friday morning to compete in the Food Truck Throw Down. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
From left to right, Molly and Brendan Curnyn of CheeseSmith and Kevin and Erin Langston of WilmyWoodie. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Attendants of GLOW’s breakfast fundraiser at the Country Club of Landfall on Friday morning. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Students of GLOW line up next to the food truck contestants before entering the banquet room. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Kevin and Erin Langston of WilmyWoodie line up next to their competition before entering the banquet room. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Former Food Network President and GLOW founder Judy Girard asked one of the network’s stars, Tyler Florence, to help host the school’s fifth annual fundraiser. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Food Network host Tyler Florence introduces competing food truck owners before revealing the mystery proteins used in the Food Truck Throw Down. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Harvey Bruce, owner of Poor Piggy’s BBQ and Goin’ Ham food trucks, made deep-fried pork tenderloin with oyster balls on the side, served with eggs and pancakes. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Harvey Bruce, owner of Poor Piggy’s BBQ and Goin’ Ham food trucks, prepares the pork tenderloin for deep frying. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Chef Keith Rhodes of the Catch food truck gets ready to prepare his dish. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Erin and Kevin Langston of WilmyWoodie get ready to prepare their dish for the competition. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Michelle Rock of T’Geaux Boys gets ready to fry stuffed fruit beignets. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
GLOW students provided live updates to the audience inside as the food trucks prepared their dishes. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Brendan Curnyn of CheeseSmith makes grilled cheese with fried pork tenderloin, pimento cheese, mustard cheese, bacon, and maple syrup. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Meanwhile in the kitchen, Tyler Florence’s team worked with Christi Ferretti of Pine Valley Market to prepare the main dish for the fundraiser breakfast. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Matt Masera, Tyler Florence’s culinary director, prepares the main dish for the fundraiser breakfast. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
The main dishes are carried out to the banquet room. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
GLOW students are interviewed by WWAY TV. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Final plates from the Food Truck Throw Down are carried out to the banquet room to be judged by two GLOW students. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)


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