Butler County trio advances to second episode of Food Network contest tonight

Three Butler County residents have made it through the first of four episodes of the Great Food Truck Race: Holiday Hustle and will compete again in the next showing that airs tonight.

The four-episode series recently launched on Food Network, with the trio’s Magical Mystery Heroes team working to prep, cook and sell more than four other teams for a chance to win $50,000 to start the food truck business of their dreams.

Debut episode "Blizzard Brawl" saw Fairfield High School graduates, Matt Williams and his cousin Chris Schulz and wife Hannah Schulz, all of whom work at Fairfield's Swine City Brewing Co., hitting the streets of snowy Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

The next episode of "The Great Food Truck Race: Holiday Hustle," entitled "Candy Cane Clash," airs at 10 p.m. today on the Food Network. It takes place in the coastal town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Teams will work together to create a holiday-inspired lunch for 70 VIP judges, whom the network said turn out to be the teams' "toughest critics yet." Then, a peppermint challenge puts the teams to the test.

FIRST REPORT: Butler County residents vie for $50K in Food Network food truck contest

The teams are first tasked with creating an appetizer using ingredients both “naughty” (difficult to work with fruit cake) and nice (easy to work with cranberries) with the winner getting an additional $2,000 based on creativity, holiday creativity and taste.

Magical Mystery Heroes concocted a Fruitcake and Chicken Fritter topped with fresh, cranberry orange thyme sauce. Host Tyler Florence critiqued the dish’s appearance, but branded its taste “really good.” They were bested by food truck Lia’s Lumpia.

With each team given $300 to devise a menu of their own, Magical Mystery Heroes came up with a Carne Asada Melt, a White Chicken Chili and a Fluffernutter Sandwich.

Chris Schulz said the sandwich was the favorite of their late grandfather, Ernest Williams, and posted a photo of him inside the food truck. Schulz, who called him “the rock of our whole family,” said he would dress up like Santa every year.

MORE: New owners of Butler County business offer sweets, treats in a variety of forms

“He definitely brings the holiday spirit to us and our family,” Schulz said, choking up as a 2001 photo of his grandfather dressed as Santa at Great Miami Valley YMCA appeared on the screen. “He just loved everything about Christmas.”

“He would absolutely love what we’re doing right now,” Hannah Schulz said.

In the middle of serving up their specialty dishes, Florence told teams they would need to use a 20-pound turkey to create an original holiday dish. The team that racked up the most in sales would received immunity during elimination.

Magical Mystery Heroes created Cranberry Glazed Turkey Taco with fresh Pico de Gallo. The Creole Queens team won that challenge.

MORE: Butler County Donut Trail named best in Ohio in magazine awards

Overall, the Butler County trio placed third in last Wednesday’s show, earning $1,654 behind Lia’s Lumpia ($2,568 earned) and Creole Queens ($2,335 earned).

“I’m ecstatic that we finished in third place,” Williams said. “We’re still here. We’re not going home. We get to continue this journey.”

The Big Stuff team earned $1,437 while the Slapshot team, which earned $1,367, was eliminated.

MORE: Area brewery, doughnut shop team up for unusual collaboration

About the Author