Drew Ballard described his experience of creating the “Rolling Indulgence” food truck from scratch and competing in the Food Network series “The Great Food Truck Race” earlier this year as “the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
And although the show’s final episode aired two weeks ago, and Ballard literally had to hand the keys to the network’s food truck back to the show’s host, Tyler Florence, Ballard doesn’t want the experience to end — at least not entirely.
Ballard, head chef at Carvers Steak & Chops, and his two “Rolling Indulgence” teammates — his fiancee, Jess Sarra, and his roommate, Travis Day, both of whom also work for Carvers — told this news outlet they are poised to make a “Rolling Indulgence” food truck a reality in the coming weeks.
“We have purchased our truck, our LLC is up and running, we’re two weeks away from launching our web site,” Ballard said. “We get the truck back from our mechanic this week, we’ll get it inspected, we’ll get our permits, we’ll get the truck ‘wrapped’ (with signage and branding), and we’ll be ready to go. And we hope to do a launch party at Warped Wing brewery in early September.”
The trio say they owe it all to the show, which Ballard and Sarra had been fans of for years. Season 10 of The Great Food Truck Race invited teams that had never operated a food truck before to apply to be contestants and compete for a top prize of $50,000.
The Dayton-based team performed well on the Food Network series, surviving six episodes that whittled the field of competitors from nine teams to three, before they bowed out July 21. Each week, while traveling around Florida and setting up shop in various cities, the team that had the lowest sales was eliminated.
“You guys have this hustle and this spirit — you guys are professional through and through,” the show’s host, Tyler Florence, told the Dayton-based team after delivering the bad news of their elimination. “It’s been a pleasure rolling this far with you.”
The new truck’s concept will be “a modern 1950s-style diner on wheels,” Ballard said. “We want to create a show. We want Rolling Indulgence to be an adventure, an experience.”
One of THEIR first experiences as food-truck operators will be to meet up with the team that actually WON the Great Food Truck Race, NOLA Creations, for some joint events in the southern United States.
Then it will be back to southwest Ohio to appear at local festivals and food-truck rallies and introduce the Miami Valley to the Rolling Indulgence brand and food.
The three say they intend to keep their positions at Carvers, and praised the restaurant’s ownership, management and fellow employees for their patience and accommodation while the trio pursues a food-truck dream. “They’ve all been very supportive,” Sarra said.
Ballard, 27, worked his way up from Carvers busboy and server assistant at 17 to head chef a decade later, with restaurant stops in California, Colorado and South Dakota along the way.
“This is everybody’s dream as a chef, to be your own boss,” Ballard said. “We were given an opportunity to create our own brand. This is quite literally a dream come true.”