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March 6, 2019

Touring food truck fare

Touring food truck fare

By Penny Inglee

The food truck Creole Queens was in Rutland March 4 filming a television show for Food Network.

Food Network films in Killington and Rutland as part of nationwide traveling contest

By Katy Savage

Food trucks lined up in Killington and Rutland last weekend in a race to be the best.

Three food trucks—Creole Queens from New Orleans, Big Stuff from Colorado and Lia’s Lumpias from San Diego,  tested their culinary skills here March 3 and 4. They have been touring New England filming Food Network’s television show, “The Great Food Truck Race.”

The event brought hundreds of people to Rutland.  “It’s a great boost to the area to bring this kind of attention on a national television program,” Penny Inglee of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce said.

During the show, seven teams of first-time food truck operators travel the country with the goal of outselling the competition under chef Tyler Florence. The team that sells the most, wins.

The show was near the season finale by the time the food trucks got to Rutland. Creole Queens was eliminated at Giorgetti Park on Sunday, leaving two trucks to go in their next stop—Rhode Island.

Big Stuff sold about $4,023 in two days, far outnumbering the competition for the weekend.

Big Stuff chef Brad Brutlag, 42, who grew up in Colorado, said he tries to take Colorado flavors and meld them with popular local dishes everywhere he travels.

He sold Colorado green chili, Mexican hot chocolate, risotto cakes and poutine.

“We’re doing everything from scratch on the truck,” said Brutlag, who has long been a professional chef.

Karrie Higgins, a fan of the show, traveled from New York with her two children to stand in Big Stuff’s line for 1 ½ hours.

She ate Colorado poutine and fig bread pudding.

“It was amazing,” Higgins said. “I was telling people as we were walking by it was worth the wait.”

Even her kids, ages 12 and 11, liked it.

“They talked about it the whole ride home,” Higgins said.

The show is in its ninth season now.

Austin Reida, who owns the food truck Street and Savory, based in Keene, New Hampshire, shut his business down for the day and came to Rutland.

“I was super happy to see what kind of turnout was there,” he said. “People were willing to come out in force to experience food truck culture.”

Reida started his food truck a year ago. He travels between Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, taking his truck to weddings, round-ups and local businesses.

“We’ve got the benefit of this craze around food truck culture right now,” Reida said. “Food truck culture is extraordinarily popular, it’s growing crazy fast.”

There are more than 4,000 food trucks in the United States,  according to the market research firm IBISWorld.

Between 2011 and 2016, industry revenue grew at an annual rate of 7.9 percent and it’s expected to keep growing. The number of food trucks in the United States is expected to grow 2.1 percent in 2019.

Jan Hodge of Clarendon, who is also a fan of the show,was one of the first in line when the Big Stuff opened.

She had risotto balls and fig bread pudding. “It was nice to see that many people in Rutland,” she said.

The show will be aired in December.

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