If you think five previous straight wins secured by the unstoppable Nom Nom Truck was going to make the finale of The Great Food Truck Race a bore to watch, you'd be wrong. The episode, which took the final two trucks, Nom Nom and Grill 'Em All, to New York City turned out to be nail-biting to the very end.
This is a summary of what occurred.
Warning: spoilers ahead. Duh!
The rules, as soon as the trucks arrived at the Big Apple, was made clear. This wasn't going to be the typical sell-as-many-within-the-alloted time scheme of the other cities. The trucks would have to make a certain amount of money in each of New York's five boroughs before they could move on to the next. The last borough would be Manhattan, where the first truck to earn $1000 would have to engage in a foot race up to the top of the Flatiron Building (if it came to that) to claim the $50K first place prize.
From the get-go, there was some trash talking. It was revealed that all those that Nom Nom bested, particularly Spencer on the Go, were rooting for Grill 'Em All, the heavy metal underdog. Spencer even gave them a leg up with a contact in NYC for supplies. At the starting line, Grill 'Em All's Ryan was sporting one of Spencer's chef's coats in a show of solidarity. When Tyler asked the Nom Noms how they felt that Grill 'Em All had the support off those who've fallen, Nom Nom's David shot back, "We'll take them out, so you can join your friends".
Even Ryan thought that was a great comeback.
With that, the race began.
In the Bronx, both trucks were counting on exiting Yankee fans for business. This was about the time Nom Nom discovered, to their dismay, that people who go to ball games are usually stuffed when they come out of it. Hardly anyone of the thousands who were leaving Yankee Stadium that night had any room left in their bellies to care about banh mis, no matter how attractive Misa was in trying to lure them in.
Grill 'Em All got most of their business from a bar.
And so, for the first time in five episodes, Nom Nom seemed to be falling behind. Grill 'Em All, in the meantime, plowed through each borough's $500 quota faster than we've ever seen them do before. By the time Grill 'Em All reached Manhattan, Nom Nom wasn't even close to Staten Island, the second to last borough.
Then, somewhere in the frenzy, Grill 'Em All's truck sideswiped a parked BMW, shearing off its bumper. At the advice of a NYC cop, who conveniently witnessed the incident, they put a note on the windshield and then started selling right in front of the car, should the BMW's owner show up.
But then, the twist. They got the call from Tyler to shut down for the night and reconvene in the morning for the final Truck Stop. The winner would get $500 towards their total, which meant that either Grill 'Em All would get that much closer to the title, or Nom Nom would get to skip an entire borough completely.
The challenge turned out to be a doozy: it was a Food Swap.
Grill 'Em All would make a banh mi. Nom Nom would make a burger.
A final tasting judge would determine who gets the $500. Grill 'Em All's Ryan was confident they could make a banh mi, and in doing it, he said he understood now how Nom Nom won all those times. A banh mi, he said, was just about the easiest thing to assemble. There was some chest-beating proclamations that they were about to beat Nom Nom at their own game.
But Misa--while Jennifer was cooking up their version of a burger with miso-soaked onions and a Sriracha mayo--made the point that it took them a long time to perfect their product. They were doubtful that Grill 'Em All could pull it off.
And she was right. In a coup that made the competition instantaneously closer than ever, the judge chose Nom Nom's burger over Grill 'Em All's banh mi.
The last part of the show saw them making a run for Union Square, scrambling to make every sale count. The focus of the episode went to the underdogs for the last few minutes of the show--a genius move by the producers to maintain the suspense.
Earlier, it was revealed that Nom Nom made their thousand. And now Grill 'Em All had too. As they raced to the Flatiron, Grill 'Em All noticed that Nom Nom's truck was nowhere to be found. Had they already beat them?
The camera followed the threesome up the stairs and ladders to find Tyler standing there and declaring that they've "made it to the finish line". But what's this? No congratulations? What does that mean? Who won?
Grill 'Em All were sweating bullets and scratching their heads, wondering the same thing as the rest of us, when Tyler produced an envelope from his back pocket. In that envelope, he said, was either $50,000 or nothing. And as the nails of everyone hooked to this Amazing-Race-meets-Top-Chef show got bitten down to the nub, they opened the envelope, revealing a $50,000 check!
In an upset, the Grill 'Em All guys triumphed over the Nom Noms, who were just climbing up as the newly crowned winners were jumping up and down unbecoming of macho metal heads.
So what happened with the Nom Noms? That's the puzzle. If they were already gone when Grill 'Em All was on its way to the finish line, were they just caught in traffic? Not able to find parking?
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And more importantly, will the owner of that BMW demand his cut of the $50K?
UPDATE (9/23/2010): After e-mailing the Nom Noms asking what exactly happened to them during the final moments of the show, they responded like this:
We have to say, New York was our toughest city yet, and it is definetely difficult to impress New Yorkers. However, despite not winning the $50k, the Great Food Truck Race was an unbelievable experience, and we are so happy with how far we've come. It was also great to be in the finals with Grill 'Em All, although they were our competitor, those boys have also become our good friends, and we now do shifts together, and are even forming an alliance Grill NOM All tee (in our shop soon!).
The show was insane drama, stress, and soooo difficult at times, but it was also an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience (who else can say they drove their food truck across the country?) and we are so thankful to be able to share this great adventure with you. Thank you once again for your support, and again this ending is bittersweet, for business is now booming, another truck is on its way, and we still have 5 vacations to go on! :)
Until our next adventure,
Misa (Mom of the Nom) + Jen (the Banh Mi Maestro) & the Nom Nom Truck Team!
I can't tell for sure, because they haven't responded to my follow up questions (particularly whether they just couldn't find parking at the Flatiron), but it sounds like they just might be done talking about the show and are already moving on.