To succeed in the food truck business or on reality television, it helps to have a sizzling concept.
Three guys from greater Cleveland will try to win the fifth season of the Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race" by catering to the public's love of cured pork belly.
Let There Be Bacon is the concept Matt Heyman, Dylan Doss and Jon Ashton used as one of eight teams competing for a fully equipped food truck and $50,000 cash on the season that premieres at 9 p.m. today.
Heyman described bacon as a bulletproof concept.
"We wanted to try to come up with a food you could use in a lot of different ways with a lot of different things," he said.
They also thought it would be adaptable to the different challenges and curveballs that host Tyler Florence gives to the competitors each week.
The team originally applied for season four but just missed the deadline. They had forgotten about it when they got the call from the network asking whether they still were interested for season five.
Taping started in the spring in California, and the trio only had about a week's notice to get ready. The competition is over now, but the team is sworn to secrecy and not allowed to reveal any details about what happened or how far it lasted.
They did have access to a little inside information. Clevelander Chris Hodgson made it to the finals of the show's second season and parlayed his success and exposure into the downtown Cleveland restaurant Hodge's, where Warren's Nate Barker is chef.
"I've known Chris for awhile," Ashton said. "He's a good guy. We definitely watched his route through the show to pick up some tips and hints. He was a good person to talk to while we were on the road."
Ashton compared being followed by camera crews to the Jim Carrey movie "The Truman Show," in which he played a man who finds out his entire life has been a reality series.
"Having people follow you around with cameras and being wired up for sound is enough to throw your game for a loop," he said.
But after awhile, Heyman said the cameras became like furniture and it was easier to ignore them.
"You forget you're on a TV show," Heyman said.
It became a reality to them when the Food Network began running promos for the new season, and they got a glimpse of themselves and the truck they hope to keep. But that's all they've seen so far.
"We'll see it for the first time (tonight) with everyone else," Ashton said. "We have no idea out of all the hours and hours of footage what they are going to show."
Win or lose, they enjoyed the experience.
"I think it opened our eyes to what the reality of running a food truck business really is and what it takes to get something off the ground from nothing and turn it into a professional business," Ashton said.
"We learned a lot about ourselves too," Doss added. "You really find out what you're capable of when you're thrown to wolves and have to succeed or fail."