Editor's note: Portions of this story were previously published by the author on the blog SOTT Underground.
Season 6 of Food Network's reality competition program "The Great Food Truck Race" came to an end Sept. 27, with Provo's Waffle Love being edged out by Pho-nomenal Dumplings from Raleigh, North Carolina, for the show's grand prize of $50,000.
This season, "The Great Food Truck Race" pitted seven professional food trucks in a race across Route 66 that spanned from the Santa Monica Pier in California to Chicago.
Waffle Love founder Adam Terry and his brothers, who come from "a big Mormon family of 14 kids," were able to practice their faith as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while on the road. Twice during the competition, the Waffle Love brothers made the controversial decision to attend church during two of the food challenges, while the rest of the teams continued to compete.
“We didn’t know that they were going to (have us) selling on Sundays," Adam Terry said in an interview for the Deseret News. "In our home business, ... we’re never open on Sundays because we believe that Sunday is not a day for business."
Terry and his brothers decided that Sunday worship, even in the middle of the competition, was non-negotiable.
"That’s just our way of staying true to who we are," Adam Terry said. "We weren’t going to go out on national TV and not follow the same business principles that we’ve been following this whole time."
With a dash of humor, he added, "Obviously, you could see that it was a stressful situation and we needed God in our lives more than ever, out on that ‘Great Food Truck Race.'"
The Terrys were appreciative of the show's producers, who were initially unaware that the brothers came from a religious background.
"They found out that we were (LDS) and it was cool that they were willing to embrace that part about us," Terry said. "They weren’t going to make us not go to church or something, so (it was) just our choice and we were hopeful to represent well."
Ultimately, the decision to take a break from business on Sunday didn't end up hurting Waffle Love. After attending church in the first episode, Waffle Love still finished in first place for that leg, $1,874 ahead of its closest competitors.
Religion aside, Terry said that he and his brothers were able to learn a lot about their business and about themselves.
"We learned that we can really do anything," he said. "We learned that it didn’t matter what we were making, we could find a way to adjust to it and we can do anything."
He mentioned being particularly proud of the unusual grilled cheese waffle he and his brothers had to make during one of the show's food challenges.
"We also learned that we can compete with anyone in the nation, head-to-head," he said. "In fact, most of the time, we’re going to beat you, head-to-head. That was cool to find out."
Terry said he remains overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to be on "The Great Food Truck Race."
"We were just super grateful for the opportunity to make it on the show," he said. "Every day on the show was a dream come true and being able to still keep our (religious) commitments while we were out there is something that we’re really proud of. We were able to still maintain our sense of integrity and the things that are important to us."
During each leg of the race, teams went head-to-head in two challenges that combined cooking and salesmanship. At the end of each episode, the team that had earned the least money was eliminated.
Prior to the finale, Waffle Love had never finished lower than second place after any leg of the race. On the other hand, a shaky sixth-place start in the season premiere didn't stop the Pho-nomenal Dumplings truck, which consistently improved as the season progressed. The all-female truck earned top-three finishes from the third episode onward.
The season finale's first cooking competition, known as a "truck stop" challenge, took place in St. Louis, where the teams had 90 minutes to prepare St. Louis-style beef, pork and chicken dishes for a duo of food critics. While the judges said that Waffle Love's pork was "cooked perfectly," they noted that the chicken was missing a bit of salt and that the ground beef dish was a little overdone. Pho-nomenal Dumplings was picked as the winner for the event.
The trucks then headed to Springfield, Illinois, where they received instructions for the competition's grand finale.
The last challenge of the season — a "speed bump," as it's called on the show — required the food trucks to sell 50 Chinese dishes, 50 Italian dishes and 50 Greek dishes in designated sections of Springfield. After having sold enough food, the first team to cross the finish line would be crowned the champion. It was then revealed that Pho-nomenal Dumplings would receive an advantage for having won the "truck stop" challenge: it only needed to sell 20 Chinese dishes, which allowed the East Coast trio ample room for error and led to a solid lead early in the challenge.
Pho-nomenal Dumplings breezed through its sales and moved on to the traditional "race" portion of the competition, driving toward the finish line at Chicago's Buckingham Fountain. Upon arrival, however, the show's host, Tyler Florence, informed the women that they had been selling their Greek dishes two blocks outside of the designated area, meaning that they'd have to go back and sell 50 additional meals within the proper boundaries.
While that geographical error could have ended up being disastrous, it wasn't a big enough blunder to cost Pho-nomenal Dumplings the victory. The truck from North Carolina managed to maintain a slight lead, despite having to re-do part of the challenge, and still crossed the finish line a few minutes ahead of Waffle Love.