Miranda Andrew hopes her purchase at the Tikka Tikka Taco truck Saturday in Rapid City will help Shaun Swaleh fulfill his dream of owning a food truck.
Swaleh, his brother Michael, and their uncle, Sam Swaleh, were among five food truck operators who opened for business in Rapid City Saturday as part of the Food Network's "Great Food Truck Race" -- a reality cooking competition where teams with different food trucks travel the country making and selling their cuisine.
The trucks will open again today as part of the competition, but for an abbreviated session as they complete their filming in Rapid City. Several will be at Main Street Square and others will be at locations around downtown Sunday afternoon.
Shaun Swaleh is an Army veteran who recently returned from serving in Afghanistan.
"We're here to win this for Shaun. This is going to be his career," Michael Swaleh said.
The battle cry resonated with Andrew, whose husband Jon, is active duty military at Ellsworth Air Force Base.
"He (Swaleh) did his military service and is now pursuing his dream. I think that's really cool," she said.
Andrew's 2-year-old son, Collin, wasn't as concerned about why they bought the chicken taco as he was that his mom was ready to get him another bite.
This is the fourth season for the "Great Food Truck Race," hosted by the Food Network's Tyler Florence. Although producers are keeping mum about details, a little research revealed that filming for this year's show started in San Francisco, traveled to Portland, Ore., and Pocatello, Idaho, before arriving in Rapid City Wednesday.
Filming took place both in town and at Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial this week. In addition to Tikka Tikka Taco, others participating include Bowled and Beautiful, Aloha Plate, The Slide Show and Philly’s Finest Sambonis.
In each episode the teams arrive in a new city where they must serve their menu to the local population while completing various themed challenges for rewards. For each day of serving the host provides participants with seed money to buy product to make their menu items. On Saturday, the seed money was only $50, so trucks were open just a short time before participants rushed to local grocery stories to buy more food once they tallied some sales.
"The Great Food Truck Race" journey ends for the team that makes the least amount of money each week until there is one team left to claim the cash prize. The grand prize for the winner has varied between the seasons going from $50,000 to $100,000 and then to $50,000 along with their custom food truck. The show will air beginning in August on the Food Network.
Ben and Tiffany Farrar drove three hours from Eagle Butte and even stayed the night in Rapid City on Friday to be a part of the food truck frenzy Saturday.
"We're foodies. We're huge fans of Food Network and this show," said Ben Farrar, pastor of the First Baptist Church at Eagle Butte. "We love the food truck concept and the specialized foods they create."
The Farrars were first in line at the Bowled and Beautiful truck Saturday at Founders Park. The women of the truck, Heather Marshall, Liza Barnes and Jessica Butorovich, offered up a chili boat with freshly fried tortilla chips for $10.
Surprisingly, Jade Linseman of Rapid City was ready to sample the food truck chili even though she gets her fill of chili as an employee of the Fairmont Street Wendy’s restaurant in Rapid City.
“We wanted to come out and show our support. It’s exciting and fun,” she said.
Laura Knutson of Rapid City stood in line to wait for bison at The Slide Show Food Truck while her husband, Cody, took their son, Jackson, to his Harney League pee wee baseball game Saturday.
“He’s pitching today. We’re missing his pitching to be a part of this,” Laura Knutson said. She waited in line for more than an hour to buy the $20 slider with fries and candied rhubarb.
The Slide Show’s chef Darrell ‘DAS’ Smith worked with Dakota Thyme owner Julie Smoragiewicz during their stop in Rapid City. Dakota Thyme made the buns for the sliders and provided encouragement during the team’s stay in Rapid City, Smith said.
“She (Julie) is a rock star. She really hooked us up,” he said.
Michelle Nishizuka grew up at Pearl City, Hawaii, so knew she had to show up Saturday to support her boys at the Aloha Plate food truck.
“I wanted to taste what they had,” she said.
Lanai Tabura along with his buddies, Adam Tabura and Shawn Felipe, run Aloha Plate and offered up three lettuce wraps and a drink for $20 Saturday near Main Street Square.
Tabura said Rapid City reminded him of his hometown in Hawaii.
“It’s small and everybody knows everybody’s business,” he said. “We’re lovin’ it here.”