While watching the Great Food Truck Race, we enjoy learning about the different culinary concepts of each food truck and and of course Tyler Florence’s curveballs throughout the season. However, what we enjoy most is watching the contestants work together as a team towards achieving their goal. One team that showed tremendous passion on the show were Roberto Franco, Keese Chess and Julius Searight of Gourmet Graduates. We recently caught up with all three to learn about their experience on the show.
Team Gourmet Graduates: Roberto Franco, Keese Chess and Julius Searight (L-R). Photo courtesy of Food Network
FP: We love the concept of the Gourmet Graduates. How did the concept evolve?
RF: The concept came together by the three of us being fresh out of college and wanting to showcase our culinary skills by putting out gourmet yet budget friendly food. Thus leading us to The Gourmet Graduates!
FP: Tell us about your experience on the Great Food Truck Race. What was it like to compete with the other food trucks?
RF: What an experience to say the least. Being on the Food Network was crazy enough, but to go against other food trucks with a variety of skills was mind blowing. You don’t realize how much you need to work as a team until you’re pushed to the limit. Between traveling and getting to know everyone, it was a blast and we’re truly grateful to be apart of it all.
FP: Looking back would have you done anything different?
RF: Everything happens for a reason and for us to lose in the second round just means it was our time. Yes, we could have managed some things better here and there but it made us more knowledgable and ready for our next adventure.
FP: What will you remember most about the experience?
RF: One thing is Tyler Florence’s line “the long..lonely…ride home.” Ha, I can hear it now how he said it. Other than that, the cast, production team and producers! They were all so easy and fun to work with that it felt like a vacation.
FP: Which city was your favorite?
RF: We had a lot of love in Tucson, AZ so that was very fun, but who could resist cooking and selling food right on Venice Beach in California!
FP: Besides the Gourmet Graduates, what is currently keeping each of you busy? Any projects in the works?
KC: I’m currently continuing to get my “Kooking with Keese” concept out there all while being the face of the NYC Marriott Residence Inn & Courtyard Central Park, “Americas Tallest Hotel.”
JS: I’m funding right now for my food truck “Food 4 Good” in Rhode Island, which will be selling food by day and giving food to the homeless by night!
RF: I am the Head Chef at The Thirsty Beaver in Cranston RI and continuously working on my fashion line “UnRated.” The line will take 12% of all sales for a scholarship fund for students across the country. As a team we are working on getting a new show together and hopefully getting back on the big screen!
FP: It’s great to hear that you’re all following your culinary passions!
What are some of your non-Gourmet Grads related interests?
KC: I’ve always been interested in film & television. I DJ’d for 3 years and toured to a few destination cities in the US.
JS: I’m interested in starting a food truck and having the concept implemented across America by others.
RF: I like to stay active and do whatever I can do to be successful. Whether it’s the clothing line or private catering, I want to be the best entrepreneur I can be.
FP: What are some of your favorite meals to prepare when you are home?
KC: I love to cook seafood and work with mystery basket ingredients. I’ve never left the college state of mind of having to work with what I have.
JS: I like making pull pork, different kind of soups and sauces.
RF: I love a classic spaghetti and meatball dish, it will never get old.
FP: If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in Providence, RI or other cities you’ve visited.
KC: One of my favorite hole in the wall joints in Providence is Harry’s. They serve one mean slider.
JS: In Providence, some of my favorites are Broadway Bistro, Blaze Restaurant and Nick’s on Broadway.
RF: When I eat out I like to go to hole in the wall places. You don’t know what to expect and I like that adventure side of the food!
FP: What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name :)
KC: My guilty pleasures continue to get me in trouble with my dentist today. I have a soft spot for desserts and tend to have more than just a couple of pieces of bacon.
JS: My guilty pleasure is anything fried.
RF: I’m a sucker for anything with peanut butter and my number one problem will be Reese’s peanut butter cups.
FP: Desserts, bacon, anything fried and Reese’e peanut butter cup are true foodie pleasures for sure!
Will fans of Great Food Truck Race see a Gourmet Graduates Food Truck cruising the streets in the near future?
RF: It’s a huge possibility! We are all working on getting things together and really hope we can cruise the streets sooner than later. As much as we want to hit the streets right away, we are taking the proper steps before so we can be the best we can be.
FP: Thank you all for your time! We wish you call continued success with your all your endeavors!