The Underdog Wins ‘Food Court Wars’

Jenn and Trish Tirado with Tyler Florence

Food Court Wars may not be original, but it is certainly consistent. In this week’s episode, The Taco Spot competed against Tirado’s Empanadas & More.

The two teams had very different motivations for wanting a kiosk at Spartanburg, South Carolina’s WestGate Mall. The Taco Spot’s owner, V.J., and his store manager, Michael, want to expand past their current two locations. If they win the mall space, Michael will get to own a Taco Spot location. The Tirados, Trish and her daughter Jenn, want to move up in the world. Prior to the Food Court Wars, Trish and Jenn sold their empanadas out of a food cart.

This week, only the Tirados had a sob story. Jenn quit her job to help her mother make Tirado’s Empanadas a success, but the family has found it hard to make ends meet with only a food cart. While the Taco Spot team did not need a sob story to be likeable, their cockiness made it hard to root for them. V.J. and Michael thought they had it in the bag because their previous locations are doing well.

The first challenge required The Taco Spot and Tirado’s Empanadas to give mall kiosk employees a sample of their signature dish. V.J. and Michael handed out fish tacos with potato cakes. The Tirados’ gave the employees empanadas and rice. The empanadas came out perfectly, but the rice was undercooked. Trish and Jen knew it and thought the blew the round completely. They didn’t.

The kiosk employees appeared to like The Taco Spot’s food, but one person found it inedible. No one seemed to love V.J. and Michael’s food. All the employees loved Tirado’s Empanadas, but the team lost points for the overcooked rice. Surprisingly, only one vote decided that The Taco Spot won the round. Tirado’s Empanadas were thrilled that even with overcooked rice, they were just as good as The Taco Spot guys.

Since they won the first round, V.J. and Michael were given a spot on WestGate Mall’s electronic marquee. Both teams felt that it was a considerable advantage. They did not realize that the two food court restaurants were next to each other, so that anyone who sees Taco Spot’s name on the marquee and went to the food court saw The Taco Sport and Tirado’s Empanadas. In the end, both teams probably benefited from the marquee, it was just a matter of whose name told customers that there were new places to eat in the mall.

To promote their brands, The Taco Spot and Tirado’s Empanadas gave away food charity walks. The Taco Spot took their food and free T-shirts to an MS Walk. Tirado’s Empanadas chose give away food an magnets at a Denim Walk, which raises money for victims of domestic violence. There were no winners because this part of Food Court Wars is not a competition. It just give Tyler Florence a chance to give the contestants feedback on their food.

Finally, it was time for opening day. The Taco Spot’s food preparation went well and they were ready on time. However, they put V.J.’s wife on cash register, which was a problem because she did not know what was in the food and she was the only one dealing with customers. Tirado’s Empanadas & More had the opposite problem. They had a hard time getting their food ready at first, since they had very little experience in a commercial kitchen, but interacting with customers came second nature because Jenn is clearly passionate about Puerto Rican food.

Despite The Taco spot appearing to have the advantage, Tirado’s Empanadas & More won this Food Court War.

About Allison Lips

I am the editor and founder of "Wait! What's a Dial?". I graduated from Rowan University with degrees in both Radio/TV/Film and Journalism.

Posted on July 15, 2013, in Cable, Food Network, Reality TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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