Two cousins from Maine — who, in 2012, had a food truck, some lobster, and a dream — are now co-hosts of Food Network’s new show “Food Truck Rehab.”
The series premiered April 11 and sees Jim Tselikis and cousin Sabin Lomac rehabbing struggling food truck businesses from the wheels up, from truck to menu to social media.
Their own story, in a nutshell, goes like this: In 2011, Tselikis, then living in Boston and selling medical devices, made a trip out to LA to visit Lomac. They got to reminiscing.
“We spent our childhoods in Maine surrounded by lobster and family,” says Tselikis, 36, who grew up in Cape Elizabeth.
“We wanted to recreate our childhood,” adds Lomac, 40, who grew up in Scarborough. “Something about lobster rolls reminded us of our childhood — sitting around laughing, making fun of each other.”
Hopping on the food truck craze, they bought a food truck, some lobster, and “hoped for the best.” It was a hit. In 2012, they landed on “Shark Tank;” Barbara Corcoran invested (and served lobster rolls on “Good Morning America”). They’ve shared their lobster mac & cheese with Queen Latifah. Today Cousins Maine Lobster has 11 restaurants and 40 trucks nationwide, including one in Boston.
About five or six years ago, Food Network “contacted us and asked if we wanted to maybe be a guest star [or] a judge on a show,” said Lomac. Eventually Lomac hosted Cooking Channel’s “Seaside Snacks and Shacks.”
When that ended, the cousins decided to pitch their own show ideas, Lomac said.
The result premiered Sunday. The pilot saw the duo help a father-in-law/son-in-law duo with their wood-fired pizza truck, Pacific Pizza Co., in LA.
“It’s been a wild, wild ride,” Lomac said of the whole experience.
The show “involves two real pieces — yes it’s the food, and then it’s the family dynamic. Both of those can be extremely hard,” said Tselikis. “We can go in and identify [the problem]: is it the truck and equipment? The recipe? A family dynamic of people stepping on each other’s toes?”
Lomac adds, “We know about working in a family business, we know how hard it can be at times — we also know how hard the food truck industry is.”
“This is what we live and breathe,” Tselikis says. It’s an opportunity to “help businesses that might be struggling to get back on their feet.”