You’ve seen D’Pura Cepa parked at Smorgasburg Miami. Now you can catch it parked on TV for the near future.
The Puerto Rican food truck — operated by Jose Carnot, Janshanic Santos, and Louis Del Rio Rubio — is appearing on The Great Food Truck Race: David vs. Goliath on Food Network. The season premiered on June 18 and airs weekly on Sundays at 8 pm through its July 30 finale.
“Somehow Food Network found us through our Instagram page,” Santos tells New Times. “And we said yes to being on the show. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be the only Latinos in the competition and show our Puerto Rican culture, too.”
D’Pura Cepa was born after Carnot and Santos left Puerto Rico when their Piñones restaurant, La Ventana, was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. The duo worked in various restaurants in South Florida and for private event companies before pursuing the pop-up concept and ultimately being selected for the Smorgasburg space.
This season marks the first time The Great Food Truck Race has taken on a “David vs. Goliath” theme, pitting established food trucks — like D’Pura Cepa — against rookies that have never owned a food truck. In total, nine teams — spanning a Creole operation out of St. Louis to a Creperie out of Atlanta — work through competitions focused on culinary prowess, marketing skills, and sales to impress a rotation of guest judges.
Tyler Florence hosts the show, and this season’s judges include chefs Joe Sasto, Jet Tila, and last season’s winner, Evanice Holz. Filming took place throughout Los Angeles, which was quite the experience for our Miamians.
“We had never been to LA, so when we got there, we didn’t know what to expect,” says Carnot. “The hardest thing, coming from Miami, is that it was so cold, like 40 and 50 degrees some days. And the traffic in LA is crazy, particularly driving a 30-foot truck and changing lanes in all that traffic. Plus, Puerto Rican food is not very common out there… no one knew what mofongo or things like it were on the street. So, we have to teach them all about it.”
Sunday’s episode required teams to prepare a dish that defines their business, followed by racing to an LA Little League complex to serve players and their families. As part of episode one, Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts made an appearance, and D’Pura Cepa prepared a trifongo, using three types of plantains, with chicken fricassee.
“That first episode was a bit nerve-wracking, realizing you’re in front of Tyler, the whole crew of the Food Network, and everyone else,” says Carnot. “But we made it through.”
Spoiler alert: D’Pura Cepa survived the first episode, placing sixth in the first competition. As for how they’ll fare for the rest of the season? Well, you’ll just have to tune in. Commenting on the experience without ruining any surprises, Santos was a fan of the experience and had big aspirations for their operation.
“It was a life-changing experience that definitely changed our lives for the better,” she says. “From here, we want to expand, open a restaurant, and do more pop-ups where we can share the history and flavors of Puerto Rican food.”
The Great Food Truck Race air Sundays at 8 pm on the Food Network.