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Jonesborough episode of Food Network show airs, showcases town

After traveling to big cities like San Diego and New Orleans, competitors in the Food Network’s new show, The Great Food Truck Race, rolled into Jonesborough a little worried about how they’d fare in a town of only 5,000 people.
Taped in May, the Jonesborough episode aired Sunday night, showcasing Tennessee’s Oldest Town while focusing on the show’s three remaining food trucks and their ability to outsell one another.
Grill ‘Em All, a burger joint on wheels; Nom Nom, a mobile Vietnamese feast; and Spencer on the Go, an upscale French smorgasbord, arrived on Main Street in Jonesborough at the start of the episode.
Food Network star Tyler Florence welcomed the trio to the area, calling Jonesborough a “quaint, cute town.”
The guys of the Grill ‘Em All truck expressed concern about who they would sell to in “the middle of nowhere,” while Nom Nom’s trio of workers worried when they learned the Asian population was only .17 percent in Jonesborough.
Chef Katgely Laurent, of Spencer on the Go, sought help from Todd Dawn, owner of Bistro 105 on Main Street. Dawn helped the Frenchman get his ingredients, even offering up one of his grandmother’s recipes
Grill ‘Em All got help from Hamilton Meats off of Boones Creek Road, where they said they were buying some of their meat. All three teams shopped at Food City on Highway 11-E as well.
In between selling on the street, the teams were required to take part in a ‘Truck Stop,’ where they each had to cook a five-course frontier-style meal while visiting ‘Old Man Johnson’s Farm’ along the river.
According to show producers, the location of the truck stop was actually Renfro Farm in Jonesborough.
After the Truck Stop challenge, Grill ‘Em All was sent to Elizabethton to sell their burgers at a car show while the remaining two trucks headed back to downtown Jonesborough.
Although competitors were disappointed that the nights were “dead” in Jonesborough, it seemed they were pulling in the cash during the daytime hours, including a huge wave of people coming to eat after church on Sunday.
If the teams were worried at first, they quickly learned Jonesborough had more to offer than they might have expected.
“I think all three of us grossly underestimated how amazing Jonesborough was going to be,” one of the Grill ‘Em All contestants said.
On elimination day, Florence informed the teams that while it was “by far the smallest city we have visited,” Jonesborough was where the food trucks had made the most money up to that point.
The Nom Nom truck continued its winning ways, coming in first for the fifth time by raising a grand total of $3,117. Also moving on the the finals is the guys of Grill ‘Em All, who earned $2,763. Spencer on the Go was sent packing, coming in last place by less than $40.
Jonesborough Director of Tourism Alicia Phelps called the episode a “great opportunity to showcase the town,” and said she was happy with how Jonesborough was portrayed in the show.
“They did a really good job getting the feel of the town,” Phelps said. “It put a spotlight on our town and our southern hospitality.”
Phelps said it didn’t hurt that the teams raised the most money here.
“That did come as a shock because I understand they had been in some really big cities before coming here,” she said. “It just really went to show the support our small town has.”
The show also reminded Phelps of where there is still work to be done.
“It is a little disappointing to see that things die out after 8:30 p.m.,” she said. “We want more things going on after hours. That is something we are constantly working on.”
The finale of The Great Food Truck Race, set in New York City, will air on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. on The Food Network.