Hey yall, it’ Mo. Yesterday I attended the much-anticipated for some, maddening for others, taping of the Food Network’s Food Court Wars at the Mall at Sierra Vista.
This event has been a point of contention between mall goers and mall management because a beloved locally owned small business was told to vacate their food court spot to accommodate the show taping.
On January 3rd Fresh posted the following message on their Facebook page:
We’ve been given notice by the Mall manager, Ken Cecil, that we have until the end of January to leave the Mall. A television show called Food Court Wars will be using our spot to tape an upcoming show. They will use our space as the award for the contestants on the show. We’re evaluating other spots for our restaurant now, and will let our loyal customers know where and when we’ll be opening.
Needless to say, many in the community were not pleased with the way this situation was handled, and they contacted the mall to express their displeasure. Several people that I spoke with vowed to not support the show taping and refuse to shop at the mall anymore.
After finding out that one of the contestants was Joyce from J’s Kitchen, my attitude changed and I wanted to support her. She is another local small business owner, and while no one can deny that forcing a mom & pop business to leave the spot that they’ve invested so much in is the WORST, especially in a town that is already seeing businesses close their doors, I didn’t want to take anything away from Joyce and her hard work to grow her business.
The other business in the competition was Kadook’s Costa Rican, a Tucson-based food truck.
In other news, here’s my selfie with Tyler Florence 😉
The taping was scheduled to begin at 5pm, the first 300 people that arrived were given 16 tickets that could be used to “buy” food from the contestants. (People had been lining up for this since noon, it was THAT serious…). The contestant with the most tickets will be declared the winner.
Spectators were not allowed to take pictures during the taping, although there may or may not be alleged photos floating around, of which I may or may not have access to………..
The 300 were arranged into smaller groups and ushered in starting around 6pm. They used their tickets to buy from the contestants, both of which had limited offerings.
On the menus:
J’s Kitchen – deep fried pork belly ($5), chicken adobo ($5) and two $3 side options, pork spring roll or rice noodles.Kadook’s – citrus chicken ($5), citrus shrimp ($5), gullo pinto ($5), and two sides, fried sweet plantains and Costa Rican coleslaw.
Most of the tasters went back multiple times, assumedly to use all of their tickets. Both lines were pretty busy the whole time.
At 7:30 J’s Kitchen erased the pork belly from their menu, signaling that they were out.
7:50, chicken adobo gone.
At 8pm the show was called even though all of the tasters hadn’t gone through the lines. The producers then thanked everybody for coming out and encouraged the crowd to “show their enthusiasm” for the camera. Needless to say, I faded into the background for that one.
The show is set to air on May 22, we won’t know who won until then.
Be sure to visit Joyce at the Farmer’s Market on Thursdays, and word on the street is there is a food truck roundup in Tucson. It’s definitely on the list to check out, are you in?