Mike Hauke of Tony Boloney's restaurant in Atlantic City can give partial thanks to his dog for winning the Truckin' Amazing Cook-Off and the $20,000 grand prize Friday morning on the "Live with Kelly and Michael" show.
Hauke would not have known about the competition if his dog was not barking its head off one morning while the show was promoting the competition.
When he walked into the room to quiet the dog, he saw a segment on "Live" publicizing the contest.
Hauke entered and made several appearances on the show, which culminated with a taste-off between him and a truck from Scranton, Pa., serving pulled-pork tacos.
"We killed it. We did our thing, straight up and down, Atlantic City-style. We made sure we repped the city to the fullest. We made sure we were serving indigenous Atlantic City grub and made sure the heads, taste buds and nose receptacles were freaking out across the board. Judges, audience members, Kelly (Ripa) and Michael (Strahan), they were out of the minds. We were cooking. We were doing our thing. It was literally one of those things where everyone was jazzed up," said Hauke after he won.
Hauke won the contest with the signature dish on his Mustache Mobile food truck - the Mustache Mobile cheesesteak with homemade cheese and sauce.
On Friday, Hauke, 32, had to make 40 sandwiches for the studio audience and the three judges, one of which was French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, of New York's Jean-Georges Restaurant.
"The biggest surprise to me was Jean-Georges, who is arguably the most successful restaurateur in the United States definitely when it comes to fine cuisine, trendy cuisine," Hauke said. "After the show, he was nonstop congratulating and nonstop praising the way the sandwich tastes, and he was so impressed by the way we marinated the steak and the presentation and the way everything was assembled. It was just like 'Oh my God, you have got to be kidding me.' ... It was very cool."
Hauke received a trophy and plaque along with his $20,000. Hauke said he would consider using the money to open a second location in Hoboken or Philadelphia, but it also will help him replenish the money he spent to replace things damaged in his restaurant by Hurricane Sandy.
"We got hit really hard with Sandy. We got no assistance across the board, so for us, we are beating back over $100,000 of loss. We lost a lot of our equipment. We lost the business. ... It was tough. We are still fighting back from Sandy. We're still in the hole, and we are still trying to steadily grow our way back. That money is definitely going to be put to good use," Hauke said.
Hauke also would like to have his food truck operate in Atlantic City, where food trucks are banned.
"I received amazing feedback and accolades from professionals that I admire," Hauke said. "I want to give a shout out to everyone who helped us get this far, especially my family, my wife and my mom.
Videos of Hauke winning and Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan making his sub can be seen at livewithkellyandmichael.com
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