If you caught the first episode of this season’s “The Great Food Truck Race” on the Food Network, you know that the women of the Raleigh-based Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck overcame some obstacles.
Mainly that their truck had major engine trouble, broke down on the side of a highway and had to be towed to the competition site. Despite those setbacks, the women survived that round and are now one of the final three.
You will have to tune in at 9 p.m. Sunday on The Food Network to see how they do in the second to last episode. The trucks are competing for a $50,000 cash prize.
The truck was started by high school friends, Sophia Woo and Sunny Lin, who serve pho, a Vietnamese soup, and dumplings. The truck, initially called Dump Pho King, got on the road in April 2014.
When Woo and Lin needed extra help on the truck during food truck rodeos, they often called their friend, Becca Ruffin, another classmate from their days at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham. So when they got cast to do the sixth season of The Food Network’s food truck competition show, Ruffin agreed to help. I chatted Thursday with Becca Ruffin about the food truck competition.
Ruffin, who lives in Cary, said previous experience prepared them to deal with their rough start to the season.
“It wasn’t the first time this truck has had serious problems,” Ruffin explained. “We’re all problem solvers. We weren’t going to freak out about it.”
After the truck was fixed, the challenges didn’t stop there. Unlike in Raleigh, Ruffin explained, where they know where to park, know their customers and have relationships with breweries and other businesses, the women had to start over in each city where the competition was held from Sedona, Ariz. to Tulsa, Okla.
“It was so eye-opening because we were so completely out of our comfort zone,” Ruffin said.
She added: “In every single city, we met truly amazing people who helped us.”
On one challenge during the television show, the teams competed to see who could eat a 72-ounce steak and all the sides at a Texas steakhouse. The Pho Nomenal Dumplings team finished first. (To watch a clip of that challenge, go HERE.)
“I did not know that meat sweats were a real thing,” Ruffin said. “I have not craved meat since then.”
Ruffin said she has most enjoyed meeting customers who are watching the show and cheering for the local team – especially at viewing parties.
“I feel more connected to this community than I ever have,” Ruffin said.
If you want to meet the women and catch the truck, it will be at Scott’s Mill Food Truck Party from 5-9 p.m. Sept. 19 (Address: 201 Scott’s Ridge Trail, Apex) and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Carolina Hurricanes Caniac Carnival at Raleigh’s PNC Arena.
There is a viewing party at 9 p.m. Sept. 20 at Crank Arm Brewing in Raleigh.
They are holding a special event at 5-9 p.m. Sept. 27 at Blackjack Brewing in Raleigh. The event will include a mini-food truck challenge involving Chirba Chirba, AmigoSan and Sol Tacos. Blackjack will air the show’s finale after the event.
For details about these and other events, go to the truck’s Facebook page: facebook.com/PhoNomenalDumplings