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Interview with a Great Food Truck Race Contestant's...Dad

The Lime Truck's Jason Quinn
The Lime Truck's Jason Quinn
Photo by Christopher Victorio

As I wrote earlier this week, two of OC's luxe loncheras are contestants on the second season of The Great Food Truck Race, which is being filmed at this very moment. Although The Lime Truck and Seabirds are contractually prohibited by The Food Network to talk to anyone, news on what the challenges have been, what cities they're in, who's been competing and even who's been eliminated can easily be gleaned by reading local blogs and following the Twitter feeds of food truck fanatics like Michelle Reynoso.


Reports coming out from each city as the show progresses from town to town on its way to a Miami finale has essentially given us a play by play on how our two local trucks are doing. Even Good Morning America's Robin Roberts did a segment, leaking vital details about the show which is not slated to air until August (the challenge at their stop in Denver: forage for mushrooms and cook them).

But today, we get a different perspective. When I published my blog post on Monday, the first to comment was The Lime Truck's Jason Quinn's dad, Robert Quinn. I took the opportunity to talk to the man, get his beat on things and whether his son is even allowed to call home.

Warning: Some possible SPOILERS ahead.


OC WEEKLY:

So how did you find out that your son and his truck were going to compete in the second season of

The Great Food Truck Race

?

JASON'S DAD: I heard directly from Jason that they'd been contacted by the producers of the show about the possibility of participating in the show. We discussed the pros and cons and I knew when they applied and made their audition tape. When they heard that they'd been selected as one of the eight contestants I think I was one of the first calls. The fact that they'd be gone for up to two months had a profound impact on a lot of our plans and arrangements had to be made.

OCW: On the team along with Jason, there's co-founder Daniel Shemtob, but who is the third team member?

JASON'S DAD: The third member of the crew is Jesse Brockman. He's a culinary school graduate who'd been working with the truck for several months. He and Jason work very well together and he's a very strong second in the kitchen.

OCW: Rumor is that they bought a second truck just for the occasion, which can be deduced by the fact that the original truck is still servicing OC while the boys are competing with another truck. Can you confirm or deny this?

JASON'S DAD: I see no problem in confirming that they acquired a second truck. If you watch yesterday's segment on Good Morning America (see above), you will notice that the truck that is being used on the show is not the truck we're all used to seeing around Orange County.

OCW: What are their plans for the second truck once the competition is all over?

JASON'S DAD: I am under the impression that when they return to the OC, they'll be operating both trucks.

 

Jason Quinn, right, with parents Bob and Lisa Quinn
Jason Quinn, right, with parents Bob and Lisa Quinn
Photo Courtesy of Bob Quinn

OCW: Tell us about when Jason first came to you and told you he and Daniel were starting a food truck.

JASON'S DAD: I always told both my sons to find their passion and give it everything they've got. I was thinking about the sciences or engineering because both had been very strong in high school chemistry, physics and calculus. Jason called me from college to tell me he'd found his passion: He was going to become a chef. Part of me want to scream, "NO," because I knew from personal experience that it is a demanding profession that is notoriously underappreciated and underpaid. But I remembered my own words and, not wanting to be a hypocrite, I threw my full support behind his dream. He seemed to be on a track I understood when he took apprentice positions at SimonLA and Charlie Palmer and then became an executive sous chef at another restaurant. He learned a lot about restaurant management and front of house at Houstons. This all made sense to me. When he told me he and Daniel were going to start a food truck, I thought he was nuts. This was not part of my plan. How would he develop as a chef? What lessons would he learn? But he didn't ask my advice; he told me he was doing it. So, with sideways glances that signaled our shared concerns, his mother and I threw our full support and encouragement behind his insane plan. After all, what would happen when they failed? He could always move back in with us until he'd found a new job. Since then the only tears I've shed over Jason's decision to start The Lime Truck with Daniel have been tears of joy as we have seen him receive recognition from respected critics and a discerning public, and as we come to understand that he has created something that is a true expression of his passion and commitment.

OCW: Where did Jason learn or inherit his kitchen chops?

JASON'S DAD: I've got to give Jason all the credit for learning to cook like he does. He has worked tirelessly to get where he is. His mother and I are respected cooks among our friends, but we're not in his league. Not even close. I will take some credit, however, for his sense of hospitality. I worked front of house at a family-run French restaurant for seven years and trained briefly in one of the world's leading hotels in Germany's Black Forest when I was around Jason's age. His mother and I also worked at the original Houstons when we were in law school at Vanderbilt (Nashville, TN). We are passionate about hospitality, i.e., providing an authentic and restorative experience for guests, and we have tried to teach these lessons to our sons.

OCW: The Lime Truck is known for an ever-rotating menu. If you had to pick one item that's your favorite, what would it be?

JASON'S DAD: I have eaten so many magnificent meals at The Lime Truck that it's hard to pick just one. I have always loved his ceviches and his ahi pokes. I've had a number of versions of pork belly that are memorable. The California cheese steak was delightful, and I'm a sucker for almost anything with just the right amount of truffle. Jason's a master of the braise, but perhaps my all time favorite is the Effin' Burger. Do you remember that one? Houseground kobe beef cooked to a perfect medium rare, housebaked parmesan pretzel bun, red onion marmalade, two cheeses, arugula. Emmmm.

OCW: How have you been keeping up with the progress? Are you in contact with him? Or have they been prohibited from calling anybody at home?

JASON'S DAD: It seems like my life is on hold while the Race is going on. I am nervous all week and I monitor local food blogs, press, Facebook and Twitter (#greatfoodtruckrace). When the race begins each Saturday I monitor Twitter, retweeting anything that will help people find them or entice people to try the truck. I even throw in a rare advertisement, but I don't hide who I am. I monitor reactions to their food and die just a little if someone isn't thrilled and get excited when people love it. I maintain a mental scale in my head of compliments and criticisms of all of the competitors and try to figure out if they're doing well enough to stay in the race. Jason and I do talk during the week, but usually about other things we're working on together. He's not allowed to give me any information about what's really going on. I learn from a careful parsing of what's available on the Internet and reports from friends or contacts who are onsite. I'm sure the producers are a bit frustrated by how much is known by anyone who cares to search, but I still think the show's going to be filled with drama and I can't wait to watch Seabirds and The Lime Truck show the rest of the country how great we have it here in the OC.

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