By LYDIA GEHRING | The Daily Record
WOOSTER — As he makes his way across the United States, competing in the second season of the Food Network’s popular “Great Food Truck Race,” Shaker Heights native Chris Hodgson will have some of America’s best beef helping him out.
That brand just happens to be Certified Angus Beef, headquartered right here in Wooster, giving Hodgson a local connection and a massive fan base in Wayne County.
Although the show is done filming and Hodgson knows how far he’s come in the competition, the series doesn’t premiere until tonight at 10 p.m. Viewers who tune in will then be able to follow him as he competes each week against seven other teams, cooking up concoctions in his truck during weekly challenges to see who can sell the most food. The truck left at the end will win $100,000.
To show his support and thank the staff at Certified Angus Beef, Hodgson made a trip down to Wayne County recently, in his truck, appropriately named “Hodge Podge,” where he whipped up some of his favorite foods he serves when he parks for customers in Cleveland. Employees feasted on Certified Angus Beef Sliders, Shaved Ribeye Tacos and a Beast Burger, all served with Sweet Potato Tots or Truffle Frittes.
When he opens his truck for business at popular spots such as East 9th Street, Public Square, Progressive Field, Cleveland Clinic or Case Western Reserve University, Hodgson said his menu changes each week and recipes often feature “a lot of farmer’s market produce,” he said.
“I like to use a lot of local stuff,” he said. “The recipes we have are a lot of what we see at the farmer’s markets.”
When Hodgson first applied to appear on “Great Food Truck Race,” he was utilizing his original truck, “Dim and Den Sum,” which served “comfort food with an Asian flare,” he said.
But even though the Food Network liked Hodgson’s audition, they wanted a different concept, which included a new truck. So in five days, Hodgson came up with “Hodge Podge,” which is now about to make him very popular.
“The experience was awesome,” he said. “All I want to do is TV now — forget cooking.”
As Certified Angus Beef continues to work with a variety of chefs throughout the world, the brand is expanding its products more and more every day. Melissa Brewer, Certified Angus Beef’s assistant director of public relations, said Hodgson’s participation in the “Great Food Truck Race” is exciting for the company and shows what a growing trend food trucks are becoming.
“It’s an honor for us to be working with one of the greatest food truck chefs out there,” Brewer said. “It’s exciting to be partnered with someone who is setting the bar in an industry like this and it’s huge for our brand from the standpoint that it increases the stability of it.”
The “Hodge Podge” team competing on the show, which is hosted by Tyler Florence, will include Hodgson, his sister, Catie Hodgson, and girlfriend, Jacquelyn Romanin. Other teams are from Los Angeles (two), San Diego, New York City, Boston, Costa Mesa, Calif. and Irvine, Calif.