T3 Takeover

Just like last year, this season’s final episode of the Great Food Truck Race (GFTR) was hard to watch. With so many great food truck concepts, it’s hard to see only one truck win. All season long, Tikka Tikka Taco (T3) competed hard and displayed their passion for running a food truck. We caught up with GFTR runner up Michael Swaleh of T3 to learn more about him and his inspiration to run his own food truck business.

T3 Team: Shaun, Sam & Mike Swaleh (L-R)
T3 Team: Shaun, Sam & Mike Swaleh (L-R). Picture courtesy of Food Network

FP: We love the concept of T3! How did the concept come about? 

MS: I’ve long noticed that there is no fast-casual option for Indian food. Every other genre has an “Americanized” fast causal option. I ate a lot of Indo-Pak food growing up, and everyone has their own way of eating it. Since I also loved Mexican food, I got used to just throwing the meat and vegetables I wanted into the naan and topping it with the yogurt — fajita style. From there, I just started trying it different ways and our concept evolved into what it is now. Pretty amazing!

FP: Great idea! We definitely love naan and Mexican food. In putting them together, you’re definitely on to something!

Tell us about your experience on the Great Food Truck Race. What was it like to compete with the other food trucks? Looking back would have you done anything differently?

MS: It was an incredibly challenging experience, as there was a ton of heart and talent on those other trucks. Small mistakes sent a lot of good teams home. We fought hard and gave it our all. We prepared well, and made good choices. The only thing I can say I would change is that I wish I had put a little more spice in that crab dish!

FP: Must have been a challenge all season as well as a great experience!

Besides T3, what is currently keeping you busy? What are some of your non-T3 related interests?

MS: I am still fortunate enough to have a great full time job that keeps me more than busy. I am so into sports it’s almost scary, so my week consists of a lot of softball, golf and watching baseball and football.  After that and T3, there is no time left!

FP: Tell us about it…how fast times flies when you’re busy!

What are some of your favorite meals to prepare for yourself and family/friends?

MS: That Tikka Pizza we made in Chicago has become quite a hit, and my friends can’t get enough Naanchos.  We also make some killer wings.

FP: We would eat the Tikka Pizza and Naanchos for sure! 

If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in St. Louis or other cities you’ve visited (or lived). 

MS: Oh wow, this could take all day!  I grew up in CA, so let’s start there.  There is a hole-in-the-wall Paki restaurant that is just now starting to expand out of San Francisco. It’s my all time favorite place. Not much on ambience, but the food in incredible. It’s called Shalimar.

I also lived in Dallas for a while, and anytime I am anywhere near a restaurant called Texas de Brazil I can’t help but eat there (and then immediately pass out in a food coma).

Here in St. Louis, I have a ton of favorites.  Just to name a few:  Taste by Niche, Pho Grand, Villa Farotta, Annie Gunn’s, Broadway Oyster Bar…I could seriously go on for days about this!

FP: We’ve never been to St. Louis but all those places sounds delicious! Maybe we’ll pay a visit in the near future.

What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂

MS: Ice Cream.  And Smores.  And Smores ice Cream.

FP: Will the people of St. Louis see a T3 truck cruising the streets in the near future? 

MS: You know, I REALLY hope the streets of St. Louis see a T3 truck sooner rather than later!  There is still a lot of work to do before that can happen.  Right now, we have turned to a crowd funding website called Indiegogo to try and make that happen.  People can help us get started and earn great rewards along the way.  Here is the link to our campaign, and how people can help us:

http://igg.me/at/tikka/x/1693497

FP: Thanks for your time and we wish you the best of luck in getting T3 on the streets! We’ll definitely let people know about your Indiegogo site!


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