Former Sea Bright restaurateur Joanne Garelli leads a food truck in a cross-country reality TV race that plays out this season on the Food Network, starting Sunday.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Wednesday’s Star-Ledger has a feature story about Joanne Garelli, the former co-owner of a Sea Bright luncheonette who’s turned the misfortune of Hurricane Sandy into opportunity.

Having lost Steve’s Breakfast & Lunch to the October 29, 2012 storm, Garelli recently headed up a three-person food truck that made its way across the United States as part of “The Great Food Truck Race,” a reality television series that starts its third season on the Food Network this Sunday night.

Garelli with friend and fan Kathleen Kelley Belluscio on Ocean Avenue last month. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

The race “pits mobile chefs against one another in a grueling 4,181-mile trek across the country, with stops at South Dakota’s Crazy Horse Memorial, Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain and the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.,” the Sledger’s Vicky Hyman reports.

Garelli, who worked with her husband Steve at their Ocean Avenue eatery for 27 years, leads a truck dubbed Boardwalk Breakfast Empire in trying to out-earn seven other grease trucks on their cross-country trek. On board with Garelli are Sea Bright Rising’s Ilene Winters and experienced chef Tim Boulous.

The prize: $50,000 and keys to their very own food truck.

From the Sledger:

The small confines of the truck kitchen weren’t an issue for Garelli. “With the exception of (Steve)’s homemade muffins and soups, and the boiling of the 100 pounds of potatoes every morning, everything else on that menu came off a 3-by-4 grill.”

But the team did feel they had to up their game in order to compete — and that task fell to Boulous, who has worked in restaurants his entire adult life. Steve’s was just a bacon-and-eggs joint, but in the first challenge — selling a $20 dish to diners in Beverly Hills — an egg and cheese sandwich wasn’t going to cut it. So the cheese became Gruyère, the bread brioche, and lump crab and crème fraîche completed the picture, along with tricolor home fries.

As reported by redbankgreen, the space formerly occupied by Steve’s is now Alice’s Kitchen, owned by former Red Bank Charter School cafeteria chef Alice Gaffney.