Sugar Vermonte is blunt. She wasn’t expecting her food truck to make it to the finals of The Great Food Truck Race when filming for her season first started in March.
“In the very first episode, in the very first challenge, we couldn’t figure out how to turn our burners on. So I would say, no, we did not know that we were going to go all the way,” Vermonte joked.
Things have a funny way of working out, though. Vermonte— the drag alter ego of Toledoan David Gedert— opened her new food truck Maybe Cheese Born with It just last summer. She never would have thought that after only a few months in business, she and her team would be on a reality show on national television. She never would have thought they would go far in the competition. And she definitely never would have thought that they’d make it all the way to the finals.
They did. Last Sunday, on the penultimate episode of The Great Food Truck Race’s 15th season, it was revealed that Maybe Cheese Born with It was one of two trucks that would compete in the final episode of the show, airing Sunday, July 24 at 9pm on the Food Network.
“It was absolutely overwhelming hearing Tyler [Florence, host of Great Food Truck Race] announce our names as going onto the finale,” Vermonte said. “We went into this competition with very little experience under our belts, and we were definitely the underdogs. We were against teams that had … decades of experience, Michelin kitchen experience and awards. And we are just a little drag queen mac & cheese truck that could, and we just kept chugging. It felt really validating that all of the incredibly hard work that we put in as a team paid off.”
Maybe Cheese Born with It— “the Midwest’s FIRST EVER drag queen owned” food truck, which serves specialty mac and cheese— will compete against Señoreata, a plant-based Cuban cuisine truck based out of Los Angeles. The winning truck will be awarded $50,000.
“I knew that we had a great strategy going in, and I was confident in it, and confident in our abilities and in our product,” Vermonte said. “But it was a far stretch of the imagination to think that we would take it all the way. But gosh darn, we did it!”
Learning how to turn the burners on in their truck was just one of the many challenges for Vermonte and her team as filming took place last March. The weeks-long shoot for the show proved a grueling experience, with the teams working “100 hours a week,” she said.
“The entire time we were there we only had one day off, total. I got up at 4am every single morning to put on makeup. It was just very grueling and very exhausting, both mentally and physically, to be ‘on’ 100% of the time,” Vermonte said.
“It’s reality TV, and something like for every 250 minutes that they film, one minute makes it onto the screen. So you never know what will be used. So the goal was to give 100% every single minute, and that was definitely exhausting in every single way, shape and form. But we did it, and it’s amazing.”
With such a massive amount of footage being whittled down into one hour of weekly television, there can be some uncertainty for cast members of a show about how they will be depicted on screen. But Vermonte— who has been watching the show since it debuted— said she was pleased with how she has come across to viewers.
“While we were out there, we were all authentically ourselves. And anything we did or said, we did or said it,” she said.
“Of course, there’s some things that you wish they would have shown, and then some things that you’re surprised that they [have] shown. But overall, super happy with it.”
One thing that may not be as clear while watching the show is the camaraderie that can form between the contestants. Vermonte said that the Maybe Cheese Born with It crew became really close with the Señoreata team, since they were the two groups who were there from the very beginning of the competition through to the very end.
“It’s great, we still talk to them to this day. Of course, we wanted to win, and we were doing everything we could possibly do to win, as were they. But the competition was still very friendly between us.”
Since returning home post-filming, the Maybe Cheese Born with It team has kept busy with plenty of stops at local events and businesses. The crew has been floored by the outpouring of support and positive feedback they’ve gotten from the Toledo community.
“It’s so humbling and gratifying,” Vermonte said. “People walk up to us in the grocery store and stop us at the bank and the post office. It’s amazing and humbling, and I promise, I am still a dumpster fire, so don’t look up to me too much!”
The business isn’t slowing down before the grand finale of The Great Food Truck Race airs on Sunday. Maybe Cheese Born with It will be on hand at the Wood County Museum on Thursday, Dolled Up Salon in Sylvania on Friday, and at Grindhrs Coffee Shop on Adams St. on Saturday. Then, the team will be there for a Finale Viewing Party on Sunday at The Brick Bar on Madison Ave., from 8-10:30pm.
Win or lose, what happens from there? Well, as Vermonte herself might say, the sky’s the limit, honey.
“There’s so much demand and so much love locally that I see a second truck possibly in our future,” she said. “I also see a brick and mortar [restaurant] coming soon. What Chipotle did for the burrito, we want to do for mac & cheese.”