Last Thursday Freehold resident Carlos Serrano made his first appearance on the Lifetime show Supermarket Superstar. Going up against two other chefs Serrano, also known as the Empanada Guy was battling for his spot in the finale looking to put his delicious fried food on supermarket shelves across the country. Starting tonight he will compete against the other winners for the grand prize.
During the hour-long episode Serrano beat out one woman who was selling a pasta product and the finale came down to him and a woman selling mini crab pies. In the end the empanadas emerged victorious but not without some big changes to Serrano’s product.
Working with the mentors Serrano not only changed the ingredients including using soy sauce to reduce the sodium content and also came up with a new logo to give him a superhuman image to match his personality. “This is 10 years just to get a chance,” Serrano said when the judges announced the winner. “This is the best and biggest opportunity in my life. The future looks bright and that is a dream come true.”
More than 100 people turned out to Park 33 on Thursday night for a special viewing party which Serrano said made the night even more special. As people watched him go through the process the man with the red truck said he was not nervous during the filming of the show. “I’ve never been the type of person where I worry about a competitor,” he said. “I learned that in baseball. I learned you stick within your talent, stick within your zone and worry about yourself.”
When it was first mentioned that he use soy sauce Serrano was admittedly a little reluctant but said once he saw what it did to the finished product he was a believer in the change. “When you don’t have the tools and the expertise that Supermarket Superstar offered me, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “That’s why I went on the show because I want to get this thing perfect.”
From a food truck vendor in a red chef’s coat the mentors transformed Serrano into a superhero dressed in red. It may not be a perfect likeness of Serrano yet but he said he was okay with that. “I get to fantasize a little bit,” he said. “That’s why i looked at all three mentors and said I gotta work on my six pack,” he added with a laugh.
The superhero aspect of the logo also struck an emotional nerve for Serrano. “When you talk about a hero you talk about a father,” he said. “You’re in a trench. It doesn’t matter what we do for a living at the end of the day we go out and we feed our kids. When you’ve got a little three year old girl telling you daddy you’re my hero you break down.”
Even if he doesn’t win tonight Serrano said just being on the show will open countless doors to help him spread his product beyond the borders of his home state. The Empanada Guy trucks are gaining traction on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and Serrano said the added fans are special to him. “It’s ridiculous,” he said after adding more than 500 fans in just a few days. “I have people trying to help me. If you take time out of your life to acknowledge me the least I can do is acknowledge you.”
Plans are already in the works to add more Empanada Guy trucks but Serrano said he will not lend his name and his image to just anyone who is interested. While it is not currently allowed by local zoning laws Serrano said his dream is to one day open a truck somewhere in his hometown.
Until then he said he looks forward to seeing the results of tonight’s show and continuing to “spread the addiction” of his various empanada flavors.