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updated: 3/1/2014 11:41 PM

Food truck teams on TV battle for Spring Hill spot

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  • Spring Hill Mall will host Sunday's episode of "Food Court Wars" in which two Chicago-based, food truck teams will go mano a mano for a permanent restaurant spot in the mall's food court.

       Spring Hill Mall will host Sunday's episode of "Food Court Wars" in which two Chicago-based, food truck teams will go mano a mano for a permanent restaurant spot in the mall's food court.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Spring Hill Mall, which recently underwent renovations in its center court, will be featured on Sunday's episode of "Food Court Wars" on the Food Network.

       Spring Hill Mall, which recently underwent renovations in its center court, will be featured on Sunday's episode of "Food Court Wars" on the Food Network.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Tyler Florence, host of "Food Court Wars," teaches the "Glutton Force 5" team of Tim "Gravy" Brown, right, and Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, how to use a kitchen knife while preparing their signature "tacos in a bag" meal for 25 dinners. Brown and Bertoletti are both competitive eaters based in Chicago, and Brown grew up in Barrington. They will be featured on Sunday's episode of "Food Court Wars," which airs on the Food Network.

      Tyler Florence, host of "Food Court Wars," teaches the "Glutton Force 5" team of Tim "Gravy" Brown, right, and Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, how to use a kitchen knife while preparing their signature "tacos in a bag" meal for 25 dinners. Brown and Bertoletti are both competitive eaters based in Chicago, and Brown grew up in Barrington. They will be featured on Sunday's episode of "Food Court Wars," which airs on the Food Network.
    courtesy of Food Network

  • Tyler Florence, host of "Food Court Wars," visits the "The Fat Shallot" team of Sam Barron and his wife, Sarah Weitz, as they prepare BLTs and coleslaw for a food drive at West Dundee's fire station on Carrington Drive. Barron and Weitz are from Highland Park, live in Chicago and run a catering business in addition to their food truck. They will be featured on Sunday's episode of "Food Court Wars" on the Food Network.

      Tyler Florence, host of "Food Court Wars," visits the "The Fat Shallot" team of Sam Barron and his wife, Sarah Weitz, as they prepare BLTs and coleslaw for a food drive at West Dundee's fire station on Carrington Drive. Barron and Weitz are from Highland Park, live in Chicago and run a catering business in addition to their food truck. They will be featured on Sunday's episode of "Food Court Wars" on the Food Network.
    Photo courtesy of Food Network

 
 

The nation will be watching Sunday as a pair of Chicago-based food truck operators duke it out on "Food Court Wars" for a permanent eatery at Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee.

As part of the show, which airs on the Food Network, the teams spent several days in the village late last fall testing their concept, marketing their brand, running their outlet for a day and feeding hungry shoppers.

The team that earns the most money gets to open their eatery rent-free for a year at the mall's food court. "Food Court Wars" airs at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Both teams, "Glutton Force 5" and "The Fat Shallot," are part of the daily grind of the Chicago food truck industry, which means they jockey for limited parking spots in the city. But the teams couldn't be any more different.

"Glutton Force 5" features Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, 28, and Barrington native Tim "Gravy" Brown, 35. They are competitive eaters who live in Chicago and have traveled the world gorging themselves on food that'll clog your arteries on sight.

Bertoletti, once Major League Eaters' No. 2 competitive eater in the world, has inhaled 10.63 pounds of corned beef and cabbage in 10 minutes, 21 pounds of grits in 10 minutes, and 275 jalapeņos in 10 minutes. He also once took second place at Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island.

Brown is no slouch himself. In 2012 he broke the world record for eating the most baby back ribs in eight minutes, according to media reports.

The duo met eight years ago on the competitive eating circuit and have been in business for four years.

The men pride themselves on creating "gourmet junk food" like corn dogs battered in macaroni and cheese, fried cheeseburgers and fancier versions of food you'll find at any state fair. The person who came up with the Doritos taco is their hero.

"I don't have a sensitive palate, so I really like strong, rich, salty foods," Bertoletti said.

"Glutton Force 5" is more than just a food truck in Chicago. They call themselves a lifestyle brand that melds competitive eating, social media and marketing. The two, who have day jobs -- Brown works in marketing and Bertoletti works at a catering company -- decided to do the show for additional exposure.

"We don't want to attach ourselves to just one thing," Brown said.

"The Fat Shallot" team features Sarah Weitz, 31, and her husband, Samuel Barron, 30. The pair grew up in Highland Park and have known each other since middle school. They fell in love after reconnecting in 2009.

The couple, who also run a gourmet catering business, specialize in creating simple, recognizable sandwiches but with a gourmet twist.

For example their BLT is made of arugula rather than iceberg lettuce, truffle aioli instead of mayo, and inserted between slices of Texas Toast.

And their salami sandwich includes a fried egg with pickled red onion and homemade barbecue sauce on a pretzel bun.

"It's not necessarily just for foodies," Barron said of "The Fat Shallot's" offerings. "It's for people that appreciate things of high quality."

"The Fat Shallot" is a play on Chicago's "The Big Onion" nickname.

"Because we're a little more gourmet, we felt like a shallot represented us more," Weitz said. "We like the ring of 'The Fat Shallot' and our sandwiches are big and fat."

Barron has a background in fine dining and worked in a three-Michelin star restaurant in Spain. He graduated with an associate of culinary arts degree from Kendall College in Chicago. Weitz, who has worked as a cook and dietitian, also attended Kendall College.

The couple started their catering business three months after they wed in 2012 and opened their food truck in May 2013.

Barron likes the food truck business because it attracts people from all walks of life, like office workers, attorneys, students and construction workers.

Business has been booming in Chicago, and the couple are ready to take their business to the next level in a food court restaurant. Their goal is to make enough money so they can move into a bigger home and start a family.

Weitz said her father, Len, who died just before she got married, is a consistent source of inspiration.

He was a businessman and taught her to set goals for herself and follow her own dreams.

"I know he would be so proud if he could watch us on the show," she said.

West Dundee and Spring Hill Mall, which recently renovated its center court, will be the silent stars of Sunday's episode.

"Having exposure on a national program on a popular network like the Food Network is always a good thing," Village President Chris Nelson said. "I know there are a lot of shopping options now ... so having them tell the story (about the mall) is important."

The teams and the network aren't allowed to dish on the winner. The date has yet to be determined for when the winning eatery will open, said Seth Hyman, a Food Network spokesman.

Rouse Properties, which runs Spring Hill Mall, declined to comment.

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