Tampa Taco Bus Ready for its Close-Up on ‘Man vs. Food’

Rene Valenzuela, left, and the Taco Bus take on Adam Richman of Man vs. Food with beef kabob tacos.

By Laura Reiley | TampaBay.com

Rene Valenzuela, left, and the Taco Bus take on Adam Richman of Man vs. Food with beef kabob tacos.

Adam Richman must like Tampa Bay. For the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food, the host visited the area in February to pit himself against a 12-inch Cuban sandwich at Aguila Sandwich Shop, a hot wing challenge at Rapscallions in Land O’Lakes and a grouper Reuben and gator ribs at Skipper’s Smokehouse.

And now he’s back. At 9 p.m. Wednesday, an episode airs starring Tampa’s Taco Bus.

“At first I didn’t want to do the show because I didn’t have a challenge for Adam. That’s not what we’re all about,” says Taco Bus owner Rene Valenzuela. On most shows, Richman tries to down a gargantuan amount of food, such as a 5-pound burger or a stack of pancakes taller than a 12-inch ruller.

Valenzuela had a change of heart when the show’s producers said that Richman was heading coast to coast to check out food trucks. At a California food truck the host attempts to conquer the White Rabbit burrito, in New York he explores a waffle truck that tops its wares with barbecued pork — and in Tampa?

“The crew came and spent the whole day cooking puerco asado (roast pork). We did a lot of kidding around, then they interviewed people who were eating at the Taco Bus and then the crew ate.”

The Tampa segment airs first on the show, with a look at the inside trappings of the Taco Bus, but Valenzuela says that it’s “going to go pretty quick.” Of the star of the show he says, “He was a pretty cool guy and a bit of a goofball. They all seem to really enjoy themselves.”

Were he to have come up with one of Richman’s massive food challenges, Valenzuela says he would have gone for a burrito challenge of sorts (but not a single burrito “the size of a small baby”).

“We have some big firefighters who come in (to the Taco Bus) and eat two burritos. I’ve never seen anyone eat three. So that would be my challenge.”