For years, Matt Chernus and Ryan Harkins were known among plugged-in Clevelanders as one-half of Amps II Eleven, which was once named Rock Band of the Year by this respected publication. The duo moved to L.A. in 2007 to get into marketing and promotion. Instead they wound up with the same jobs that had subsidized their bands back home: cooking and bartending.
Ah, but the magic fairy dust of Hollywood has settled on the two lads’ shoulders: Last year, they hopped on the burgeoning L.A. trend of food trucks — decked-out vehicles capable of serving meals on any streetcorner in the city. Their creation: Grill ’Em All, a heavy-metal burger truck that borrows its name from a Metallica album and is emblazoned with the likenesses of Ghoulardi and Harvey Pekar.
They work the streets wielding spatulas and megaphones, blaring the Stooges and Skeletonwitch, and distributing the sweet aroma of melting fat through all of Tinseltown. Their racket caught the attention of the Food Network, which signed them up to take part in The Great Food Truck Race, a new reality series that launches on Sunday, August 15.
Grill ’Em All will compete against six other trucks in a dash from the West Coast to New York City. Each team starts with an empty truck and seed money. They stop along the way to sling food throughout the heartland; whoever makes the most money stays in the race.
Though the competition is over, the results are locked in the same Food Network vault that holds Emeril’s toupees. But Grill ’Em All was recently spotted slinging dogs in New York City — a promising sign for the hometown boys.
“I miss the living hell out of Cleveland,” says Harkins. “The food scene is out of control. The people are amazing. Fantastic bands. There is midwestern humbleness that just doesn’t exist out here. It’s [our] goal to start a restaurant back in Clevo, so look out, dudes!”