MASSENA — Only 39 food trucks from across the state have the privilege of competing in a Taste NY Food Truck Competition at the 2019 Great New York State Fair, and a local food truck is among them.
The Rapidz Pulled and Loaded Food Trailer will be competing from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 1 against 19 other food trucks from throughout the state at the New York Experience festival area on the western end of the fairgrounds. The competitors have names like Skippy’s Ice Cream of Liverpool, Glazed and Confused of Syracuse, Come Fry With Me of Rome, Over the Moon Grilled Cheese of Alpine, Roll’n Deep of Rochester, and The Baked Potato Express of Liverpool.
Twelve trucks are new to the competition, and there are also three returning champions — The Meatball Truck from Rochester, Smokin Pete’s BBQ from Dresden and Silo Food Truck from Ithaca.
Corey and Jennifer Deshaies have owned Rapidz since 2004, starting out on Center Street and now one of the restaurants in the food court at the St. Lawrence Centre mall. Mrs. Deshaies said she heard about the competition on television, and they decided to apply.
“We were pretty ecstatic when we got the call,” Mr. Deshaies said.
Rapidz Pulled and Loaded has an extensive menu, ranging from “Starterz” and “Saladz” to “Loaded Friez!” and “Sandwichez.” But they can only use one item for the competition. Truck operators create an entrée in sample sizes. Fairgoers buy the samples for $3 each, then vote for their favorites via text using a phone number revealed on the day of the event. The top three vote-getters each day receive Aldi gift cards of $1,000, $500 or $250, courtesy of the grocery company.
“The food is fresh. You can’t use something that comes out of a bag,” Mrs. Deshaies said.
“We set the trailer up so we can do just about everything. Everything we do is fresh and homemade,” and uses local products, Mr. Deshaies said.
Mr. and Mrs. Deshaies have decided to offer buffalo chicken (Shifterz) — fresh shredded buffalo chicken tossed in a creamy house sauce, layered with mozzarella cheese and baked in the oven.
“Our buffalo chicken is awesome,” Mr. Deshaies said.
Since opening their trailer, Mr. and Mrs. Deshaies said they’ve traveled quite a bit to places where they’re requested. They were at a lot of sporting events last year, and this year their food trailer has been requested for events like graduation parties. Their schedule has to be built around their regular full-time jobs.
“They heard about us in Lowville and Copenhagen. We pretty much sold out in Lowville,” Mrs. Deshaies said.
“Syracuse is going to be the farthest,” Mr. Deshaies said. “We like going to places and seeing different people.”
He said he enjoys being busy, and the food trailer keeps him on his toes.
“It’s the rush of seeing all the people. It’s worth the wait,” he said. “We just want to have fun doing it.”
Even if they’re among other food vendors, Mrs. Deshaies said it’s not a competition.
“We all help each other out,” she said.
But they’ll be in it for the competition in Syracuse.
“The competition is one of the most fun events of the fair. People get to sample all kinds of food they might never have tried otherwise. It showcases the creativity and quality of street food, nearly all of which is made from great New York State agricultural products,” Fair Director Troy Waffner said in a statement.
The competition is sponsored by Aldi.
“We are looking forward to tasting all of the chefs’ creations at the State Fair’s Taste NY Food Truck Competition. It’s great to see contestants from so many different regions across New York,” Aaron Sumida, Tully division vice president for Aldi, said in a statement.