DENVER — Local Denver food truck “Crock Spot” won the “Final Showdown” of the Auraria Food Truck Challenge Thursday, Aug., 30.
An original field of eight competitors was narrowed down to three. The gourmet specialists edged out finalists “Manna from Heaven,” serving Vietnamese-inspired cuisine, and the “Saj Express” truck of the Saj Mediterranean grill, as well as a stubborn 95-degree heat that did not stop free samplers and paying customers.
Anticipation, however, over the winner may have waned in the traditionally hot August afternoon. Rumors of Crock Spot’s victory made its way through the crowd before the scheduled 2 p.m. announcement. Aside from the Showdown finals, Aug. 30 marked Denver’s 65th day of 90-degree plus-weather this summer — continuing to set a new record.
The event was sponsored by the Metropolitan State University of Denver office of Student Activities. There was friendly staff, free samples, and talk of generous portions from the Saj Express.
“They have been my favorite truck on campus since I saw them,” said Student Government Assembly Election Commission Chair Amy Murlowski. “Their samples were the size of a meal.”
“We have a lot of fans here,” said Mandy Birks, who owns Crock Spot with Stephen Daniels. One of the main goals of Birks and Daniels is have a higher profile on the Auraria campus.
Crock Spot, which offers “crock-pot inspired cuisines,” will certainly have that chance. First place prize in the showdown included five days for the mobile gourmet truck to set up for business on the Auraria campus this fall.
“I love having food trucks on campus because it gives you a bigger selection,” said senior Cheryl Upshaw, an English major.
MSU Denver SGA Vice-President Anthony Sylvester felt the same way.
“I love the feel I get when I walk down by the commons and we have all those food trucks out there,” said Sylvester, a biology and chemistry major. Sylvester also called the food from Manna from Heaven “delicious.”
The relatively young Crock Spot started in May 2010, but faced even spryer competition from the “Manna,” which has been in business since June 4, 2011 according to Larry, a member of the family that owns the Manna. Larry credits his 17-year-old son with the idea to start “Manna from Heaven.” It is obviously risky to start a business in the midst of the recession, but Larry says things are going well.
“Business is okay,” said Larry who is the former proprietor of a security, construction and a real estate company. “This is the most rewarding and the toughest business I’ve ever started.”
Though Larry and “Manna” didn’t win, he remarked, “We love Auraria campus. This is the only place I’ll drive to in the snow.”
Crock Spot Rotating Build a Bowl Menu.
(Served in Earth friendly disposable or sourdough bread bowls.)
Step #1- Choose a Grain
Jasmine Thai Fried Rice
Step #2- Choose a Protein
Savory Pulled Pork
Juicy Shredded Chicken
Vegan Curried Lentils with Hominy
Traditional Roasted Beef (with or without fresh jalapenos)
Herb Cardamom Meatballs
Classic Roasted Turkey
Vegan Beet Nut Balls
Succulent Roasted Duck
Homemade Red Chili
Step #3- Choose a Sauce
Chimichurri- Cilantro, Lime and Love
Roasted Pepper Tzatziki- Mild yogurt sauce with coriander, garlic and dill
Garlic Tahini- Mild Mediterranean flavors of sesame and garlic
Sriracha Sour Cream- Cool up front with a spicy kick at the end
Cranberry Wasabi- Seasonal sauce- sweet with horseradish notes
Esteban’s Yucatan Fire- Fresh lime and chili as seen on every table in the Yucatan- HOT
Succulent Sides and Crock Toppers
Sauteed Broccoli Florets
Fire Roasted Corn Salad