Tyler Florence On How 'The Great Food Truck Race' Influenced America's Food Truck Scene

Season six of Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race premieres Sunday, August 23, and host Tyler Florence couldn't be happier to see the how successful the show has been — and how far the food truck scene has come since the show began in August 2010. We had the opportunity to chat with the chef, who last week set the Guinness World Record for the longest barbecue marathon by a team (at 34 hours and 35 minutes) to help promote the new Ball Park Park's Finest hot dogs and support City Harvest. It's clear that he's thrilled with how this season turned out.

"This season we're going to be traveling down Route 66, from Santa Monica to Chicago," he told us. "The fact that professional food truck operators, instead of cooks who are competing to win their first food truck, are competing this year is taking us back to the show's roots, and it was so much fun to be a part of."

Florence doesn't understate the impact that the show has had on the national food truck scene. "I don't know if there's been a show that's had a bigger impact on a pure disruption level, in that it's helped invent an entirely new genre of restaurants," he told us. "The scene has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years. Trying to engage in a conversation about food trucks was impossible in 2010. People were telling me that there was no way they'd eat from a 'roach coach.' Think about how far we've come since then."

Florence believes that the food truck scene boomed in a large part because of the financial crisis in 2008. "Restaurants were closing and chefs were unemployed, and it can take up to $4 million to open a restaurant but less than $50,000 to start a food truck," he added. "It's America's answer to fast food, and it's taken a new generation of entrepreneurs to put it all into perspective. There are 30,000 food trucks on the road today, and it's been truly an honor to help spread the word."