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Racing TV food carts screech to a halt in Portland

by: COURTESY OF THE FOOD NETWORK - Two food truck teams visited the other Portland (in Maine) last year during the third season of the Food Network's 'The Great Food Truck Race.' On Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19, teams will compete in the Rose City as part of the TV show's fourth season.Portlanders can expect to see a few new food trucks roaming city streets this weekend. That’s right, food trucks, not food carts, which are the staple of the city’s mobile culinary scene.

On Saturday and Sunday, seven food trucks competing in the reality TV show, 'The Great Food Truck Race' will be trying to find temporary legal parking spots from which to dispense their meals.

The show, filming its fourth season on The Food Network, will air starting in August.

The show’s annual winner is the truck that takes in the most revenue. Each week the trucks, much bigger and more brightly decorated than typical Portland food carts, alight in a different city. The Portland stop represents week two of season four.

Portland city code doesn’t allow food trucks to ply the streets as they do in many cities. Here, trucks or carts must be parked off the street, usually in parking lots, if they want to sell food. So exactly where the Food Truck Race contestants are going to park and dispense their food remains a mystery, even to the show’s producers. Those are the type of problems the show likes to place in the path of contestants, co-Executive Producer Peter Woronov told the Tribune on Friday.

The trucks were spotted in St. Johns’ Cathedral Park Friday afternoon filming footage and getting instructions. From sunrise to sundown Saturday and Sunday, they will be competing to find the best available locations and selling their different food truck specialties.

Woronov says that food carts are such a popular Portland cultural institution that the contestants might find it harder going here than in other cities. Typically, he says, a food truck on the show in past seasons in cities ranging from Los Angeles to Atlanta could expect to take in about $2,000 a day.

“My mom would think (Portland) is a great place to go, but I think Portland’s going to be trouble,” Woronov says. “It’s like stepping into the big leagues.”