Load a Bowl founders first won Food Network’s “Food Truck Face Off” television show, and on Saturday, they nearly gobbled up the competition, as winners of a Killeen food truck battle.
Load a Bowl cooked up enough success to earn the judge’s best dish award, most sales award and people’s choice award at the inaugural Battle of the Food Trucks and International Food Festival, organized by the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce-Central Texas.
Typically featuring one bowl with one flavor style at festivals and events, Load a Bowl food truck operators ran the full menu and sold out right before 5 p.m. Saturday, executive chef Tanner Byrd said.
“The menu is actually inspired because I grew up in Killeen around all the German influence, the Korean influence and all the different cultures that are here,” Byrd said.
Co-owner Kyle Tannery said they won their food truck when Byrd’s winning schnitzel sliders received a perfect score on the Food Network TV show.
New Killeen residents Roz Edwards and her 10-year-old son Gemini remember seeing the show.
Roz Edwards said they like watching food truck battles on television, which is why they attended Saturday’s event.
“He likes trying different things,” she said of her son.
Gemini said he gave thumbs up for Vietnamese sliders he tried from Central Texas College’s Culinary Club and the Russian Food truck’s fare, but the Hands Off My Funnel Cake truck was his favorite.
Killeen residents Perry, Angela and P.J. Snell were just getting their start on determining a favorite truck at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Angela Snell said they tried What About Wednesday’s, CTC’s sliders and Columbian Appetizer but also wanted to try Krab Kingz Seafood. Perry Snell was in the middle of trying a Samoan plate.
“It’s going to be a long day,” he said.
The day was also long one for judges Steve Harris, a former Killeen councilman; Abner Nito, an entrepreneur party mixer chosen as a judge from Facebook; Adrian Hazelwood, with Baylor Scott & White; and Terry Massey, with the Women’s Army Corps Veterans Association.
“It’s tough,” Harris said, having sampled 12 of the 16 dishes. “Most everything is good, and some of it is outstanding.”
In addition to giving the judge’s choice award to Load a Bowl, judges named the Hotspot Grill as winner for having the best presentation. Local Guam food truck Fina’dene took second place for the people’s choice award.
Juan Rivera, chamber chairman and a Killeen councilman, said food truck owners can mark their calendars for next year’s battle.
“We’re looking to have one every single year,” Rivera said. “The chamber’s responsibility is enhancing small businesses.”
With an estimated 5,000 people attending Saturday’s event, Rivera said the most important thing was 50 percent of all proceeds from vendors’ participation goes to the Scott & White Healthcare Foundation and McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White.
Jose Segarra, chairman of the chamber’s public relations committee and also a Killeen councilman, said Saturday’s event brought out 16 foot trucks and about 40 vendors.
“This is great for both the chamber and the city because we have the whole community out here supporting the vendors and the cause,” Segarra said.