Fender Vendor or Vendy is Trendy

Vendy AwardsBy: Samvida Patel

And the New York City VendyCup of 2013 goes to…

Considering they have yet to take place, I don’t have an answer. But I will have one on September 7, 2013, after having tasted the food, dessert, and drinks of twenty-three food trucks and carts. Recipe for foodbaby-making you say? Well I call it a day of tasting talent.

I don’t know about you, but instead of wondering about the teamwork, effort, and stress infiltrating the surroundings of Food Network Star contenders, I sit and wonder how I can be one of those audience members who get to sample one of the menus in the Food Truck Faceoff Round. It’s not that much of an out-of-scope question. After all, the contestants are people just like you and me, with a passion to share their culinary prowess with the world. The Vendy Awards resemble this Food Network Star challenge, except that the merriment contained in ticket to the former is endless. Attendees can fill their stomachs to their heart’s content from any of the food truck finalists, while enjoying an open bar of beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and of course, live music and performances. At the very end, you’ll find vendors clutching their steering wheels and cart ends, hoping that the esteemed judges in you will give them a vote for the People’s Taste Award.

Now in its Ninth Year, The Vendy Awards has come a long way to having twenty-three finalists from only having four in 2005. The growth and success of the awards have stemmed from the endless efforts of The Street Vendor Project, a nonprofit organization geared towards ensuring legal rights and providing financial support to struggling street vendors. With this group of individual benefactors and private sponsors, more food trucks and carts have become more self-sustaining, adding to the street food culture of New York City. Today, so many diverse trucks and carts exist, paving way for more Vendy categories like Rookie, Dessert, Market Vendor, and Best of New Jersey, aside from the overall VendyCup and People’s Taste.

In fact, two of the Rookie Finalists, Nuchas and Toum are partnered with FoodtoEat, allowing their respective Argentinean and Lebanese foods to be ready for pick up with a click of a button. Ariel Barbouth, owner of Nuchas, bakes fresh empanadas, a popular Latin American snack that can either be savory or sweet. ???????????????????????????????
The other food truck, Toum, happens to be New York City’s only Lebanese cuisine on wheels, offering zesty specialties like the “Grilled Kefta Sandwich.” The brilliant chefs behind the creation are husband and wife, Rodrigue and Christine Chebli.

Trend has it that tickets sell out before the date of the Vendy Awards so get yours today at http://nycvendys2013.eventbrite.com/!

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

2012 Vendy Awards, Recap & Winners

This Saturday the Street Vendor Project held the eighth annual Vendy Awards at Governor’s Island, featuring two dozen vendors from New York City nominated in several different categories by their biggest fans. Fortunately it was a beautiful day out, and about 1,500 people gathered at the event to feast and vote for their favorites.

Every year that I go to the Vendy’s I make a silent pact with myself to try something from every vendor. This pledge is much easier said than done, and I think I sampled about eight vendors before I sprawled on the grass in the middle of a debilitating food coma. But I’m pleased to say I tried food from several of the big winners, including Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food, a food truck from Brooklyn that took the top honors this year, winning the coveted Vendy Cup.

I started at Baby Got Back Ribs, a vendor nominated for the new Best in Market category and serving out of the Smorgasburg flea market in Brooklyn. These guys made two kinds of excellent ribs, a sweet and tangy flavor and a 21-seasoned dry rub variety. They served the ribs alongside a refreshing cole slaw and a hunk of corn bread. The meat was so tender that it just fell off the bone, and these ribs were an excellent way to kick off the day. They even served their own iced coffee with the meal, and kept us entertained with some light trivia.

I stopped by another Best in Market contender called Mayhem & Stout that operates out of DeKalb Market in Brooklyn. Mayhem & Stout specializes in pork sandwiches, and I tried their braised short rib and brisket, which was probably one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. The short rib was ridiculously tender, and was paired with Blueberry Sriracha and Pickled Vidalia Onions, combining to provide an out of this world flavor.

I passed by some of my favorite food trucks, but I was on a quest to eat from the ones I had never seen before. Okadaman’s Japanese pancakes are some of my favorites, and Uncle Gussy’s and Phil’s Steaks are regulars in Midtown, Manhattan that usually end up in my weekly lunch schedule. At last I found the sought after Lumpia Shack, serving Filipino inspired spring rolls. I tried their Peking duck roll and a mushroom and truffle roll. There’s a reason Lumpia won the best in Market category, these rolls were packed with flavor. The duck roll was rich, savory and fried to a perfect crisp and complemented by a tangy sauce on top. When it comes to truffles I don’t think there’s a way to wrong, and this roll was by far the best vegetarian dish I ate all day.

Rounding out the Best in Market vendors, I was drawn to Pestle & Mortar by their elaborate lobster shell display around their ceviche. For anyone who has never had ceviche, it’s a popular seafood dish from South America made from raw seafood marinated in citrus juice and spiced with a variety of seasonings. Pestle & Mortar’s ceviche was made from shrimp and lobster, marinated in citrus and served with fresh chunks of mango in a small cup with a crisp dipping chip. The ceviche was so good I actually came back for several more helpings; one man in front of me even took a pint home at the end. The ceviche was fresh and perfect for the weather. All of the Best in Market nominees I ate from were outstanding, and the Vendy Awards made a great decision in opening this category.

Among the other vendors I had a chance to eat from was Xin Jiang Prosperity Kebabs, a food cart from Chinatown nominated for the Vendy Cup. The lamb kebab was another winner, succulent and perfectly seasoned; a perfect match with Brooklyn Brewery’s India Pale Ale. People’s Choice winners Cinnamon Snail served huge portions of vegan sliders and a mushroom dish, as well as their signature donuts and a vegan Twinkie. Fun Buns served a delicious Asian pork bun that made me wonder why I hadn’t eaten at this cart yet. Finally I had my last full meal from Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food, three tacos and a selection of four different salsas. The salsas are really what made Piaztlan stand out, the red tomatillo salsa had a perfect kick to it, and the green tomatillo avocado salsa was rich and savory. As someone else at the Vendy’s commented, each salsa made Piaztlan’s tacos taste different, so customers could make the perfect taco to suit their tastes.

Too full to try most of the desserts, I sampled Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwich’s new Bushmills flavored ice cream they created. The candied bacon variety was really addicting; I didn’t think it tasted like bacon or whiskey, which was fine with me. The edible wrappers they provide always give an added incentive to eat their ice cream. Monsieur Singh Lassi was the only other dessert I managed to try; they created Indian style Lassi ice pops. Their mango ice pop was creamy and delicious; even though it was so cold it stuck to my tongue when I got it.

Although I couldn’t possibly eat from every vendor I wanted to, a big shout out goes to the winners of the awards, and a thank you as well for providing such amazing food and standing up for every vendor’s rights as well. I will definitely be back next year, with a whole new set of eating goals.

Winner, Vendy Cup: Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food

Winner, People Choice: Cinnamon Snail

Winner, Most Heroic Vendor: Sammy Kassem

Winner, Best Rookie Vendor: Phil’s Steaks

Winner, Best Dessert: Melt Bakery

Winner, Best in Market: Lumpia Shack

Countdown to the 2012 Vendy Awards

The New York City Vendy Awards will be held tomorrow, September 15th at Governor’s Island. The Vendy Awards are an annual tasting and award ceremony for some of New York City’s best food trucks and carts. The event is sponsored by our friends at the Street Vendor Project and works to shed light on new and upcoming vendors, and raise awareness for the rights of small business owners.

This year the Vendy nominees will fall into several categories from last year, and one new one. The new category is called “Best in Market”, which acts to represent street vendors that sell their goods at street fairs and outdoor markets. This new breed of vendor tends to use locally sourced ingredients and classic techniques, and was heavily supported by the voting public during nominations this year.

Last year the Vendy’s created a new category called “Most Heroic Vendor” to support those that stood up for their community. This year the Most Heroic Vendor is Sammy Kasem, a halal food vendor in Bay Ridge Brooklyn who faced opposition from several brick-and-mortar restaurants. These restaurant owners tried kicking him out of his spot, nailing park benches down to keep his cart out, and threatened and harassed him. Instead of giving up Sammy has continued to fight for his right to make a living in this community.

In the other five categories a wide variety of known and more obscure trucks have been nominated. In the Best Dessert category, Coolhaus Ice Cream sandwiches and Andy’s Italian Ices have been nominated, both members of the New York City Food Truck Association, and well known throughout New York City. Coolhaus originates from California, and is homage to architectural design by using cookies and plenty of flavors of ice cream. Andy’s has the same idea with over 45 flavors of water and crème ices, as well as an espresso bar.

For Best Rookie Vendor our friends at Okadaman and Phil’s Steak’s were nominated, as well as Chinese Mirch, Morocho Peruvian Cuisine, and Cambodian Cusine Torsu. Okadaman is a Japanese food truck serving Osaka-style street food like their iconic Japanese pancake. Phil’s Steaks serves traditional Philly cheese steaks, and is always a huge hit at events.

In the new Best in Market category, Baby Got Back Ribs from the Smorgasborg Flea Market in Brooklyn was nominated, as well as Lumpia Shack. Baby Got Back Ribs uses a 21-seasoning flavoring to make their signature ribs. Lumpia serves Filipino-inspired spring rolls in Brooklyn, and aims to bring Filipino cuisine to the whole world.

In the main category, the Vendy Cup, six vendors have been nominated with a huge variety of tastes. Our friends at the Cinnamon Snail serve vegan food from their ornate burgundy-colored food truck; their Makers Mark donuts last year were a huge hit and took home the Vendy Award. Long-time vendor Uncle Gussy has also been nominated, a signature Greek food truck that keeps cooking all in the family.

We’re thrilled for all the vendors nominated for Vendy Award’s this year, and this event should provide each vendor with publicity and raise awareness for the service they provide to New Yorkers. Check in Monday to see a full recap of the day’s events.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


When All Else Fails, Partnership Calls Food Carts an ‘Eyesore’

Food trucks and carts have been given a wide variety of reasons for why they are no longer welcome in Midtown, Manhattan. Most of these reasons relate to an outdated court ruling, or complaints by rent-paying brick and mortar restaurants, but this is the first complaint we’ve heard that has ostracized food carts based upon their physical appearance.

A new campaign by neighborhood business owners and members of the 34th Street Partnership have called out food and street vendors for being rude, obnoxious eyesores that are cluttering the streets. Dan Biederman, who heads the Partnership as well as the Bryant Park Association said “The problem is really simple: the food vendors, with about five exceptions, are the ugliest collection of miserable-looking vehicles we’ve ever seen. The vendors are almost exclusively terrible citizens, they litter with impunity and are generally rude to anyone who asks them to clean up.”

The partnership has taken action by asking city officials to reduce the amount of street vendors in Midtown, and effectively take away licenses and relocate them to ‘better’ places. Biederman claims the street vendor problem has worsened since many vendors began putting flashing signs on their carts. This, in conjunction with excess smoke, odd smells, piles of trash on street corners and the general aesthetic appeal of carts have made the streets in midtown unpleasant for residents, tourists and office workers. The group mentioned that several carts do look physically attractive, such as Wafels & Dinges and the Fruit-n-Juice cart on West 35th and Broadway.

The Street Vendor Project, which helps street vendors identify their rights, has responded to this most recent charge by this campaign. “It’s a little bit crazy to call vendors ugly and take them away from their neighborhood,” said Street Vendor Project attorney, Matthew Shapiro.

Shapiro argues that vendors provide important jobs to immigrants, and offer more affordable food for people who cannot afford the high priced options in Manhattan. “They can’t afford to invest in their business and make them looks better because they’re always getting slammed with fines. When people think of New York, they think of street vendors, they think of the hot dog cart. It’s part of the city.”

Biederman sees city organizations as a means to regulate the food trucks, though they are already heavily regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. With litter, crime and graffiti disappearing from the city, Biederman now sees food trucks and carts as the single biggest complaint, which the city has a responsibility to address.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com


Looking for a Great Affordable Gift? Look no Further

Some like to say that food trucks are just a fad that will soon decline in popularity, but for those of us who know better, the New York Food Trucks 2012 Calendar may be the perfect gift to ring in the New Year. This calendar features a different New York City food truck on each page, 12 in all with a photo of each truck as well as a featured dish, with information about their cuisine and contact information.

At only $15, the calendar makes an excellent utility gift for a coworker, or anyone who might happen to have a food truck craving. The calendar also gives you something to feel good about, with $1.00 from every calendar sold donated to the Street Vendor Project. For those unfamiliar with this organization, they are a non-profit that helps support street vendor rights in New York City. The Street vendor Project helps many immigrant food vendors navigate through the legality of the trade, and hosts the Vendy Awards every year.

Give a great gift this year with New York Food Truck Calendar, and officially declare 2012 the year of the food truck!

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Vendy Awards Were a Great Success!

Everything went smoothly at the Vendy Awards this past Saturday, with 21 vendors, fast moving lines and fair weather. The event had a great crowd, featured lively music, and had great sponsors ensuring the day would be a blast, like Maker’s Mark and Brooklyn Brewery. For the first few hours guests sampled as many cuisines as possible, strategically choosing between the most sought-after trucks and those with the most manageable lines. Korilla BBQ, Souvlaki GR and Solber Pupusas seemed to have the longest lines throughout, but eventually they winded down so I could have a taste.

Some exceptional offerings came from The Cinnamon Snail, which made a spicy red bean tart, seitan wrap and a Maker’s Mark jelly-filled donut, alongside their funky costumes. Taim’s green falafel was one of the best falafels I’ve ever tasted, and Sunrise Grill’s oxtail was unique and delicious. Taco Truck made light and refreshing tacos, and Two Pitas in a Pod had a great sample platter complete with pulled pork, falafel and hummus. La Bella Torte had extravagant and filling cannolis and desserts, and Wooly’s shaved ice made delicious Maker’s Mark infused shaved ice. One of the toughest challenges of the day was trying to juggle multiple drinks and plates while looking for a place to sit, but I suppose my own gluttony is to blame for that. As the trucks started to close up, I got a last minute chance for beef taco from Korilla, with kimchi and a delicious sauce, and a chicken pita from Souvlaki GR, complete with Greek fries inside.

When the time came for the awards to be announced, the trucks all closed and the owners gathered around the podium, while the judges were introduced, the concept of the Street Vendor project was discussed, and thanks given to all the sponsors and participants. The Most Heroic Vendor Award was presented to Patty’s Taco for standing up to the multiple violations she received and fighting back with a lawsuit against the city of New York. Best dessert went to Wooly’s shaved ice, which served up the perfect light dessert for this challenge, and they came with their very own Green Man. The Cinnamon Snail won the Maker’s Mark challenge for their donuts, and undoubtedly their colorful costumes as well. Taco Truck won the Best of New Jersey category; Korilla won Rookie of the Year, storming the stage with the most enthusiasm of any of the vendors present, and Souvlaki GR won People’s Taste. The Vendy Cup was at last presented to Solber Pupusas, which had lines as long as anyone’s today, and served delicious, authentic corn patties.

With the final award given out, the 7th Annual Vendy’s came to a close and everyone shuffled towards the ferry, vendors included. With delicious food, great weather and an even greater turnout, this year’s Vendy Awards picked a stellar group of food vendors and gave recognition to some unique trucks that until now were largely unknown.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

The Vendy Awards Are THIS Weekend (In Case You Haven’t Heard)

This Saturday the 7th Annual Vendy Awards will take place at Governor’s Island, and tickets are still available to those of you looking to get in, albeit the cheaper general admission tickets have long sold out. For the first time this years a “Best of New Jersey” category was opened up, and the awards will continue to honor the “Most Heroic Vendor”, supposedly ranging from the vendor who called in a terrorist threat to the vendor who memorizes your order and has it ready for you every day.

There are many other awards to be given out tomorrow, including the People’s Choice Award, Rookie of the Year, and the juggernaut of them all, the Vendy Cup. With so much food and so many enthusiasts present, the only perceivable threat is long lines. So if you still can, buy a ticket and head down to Governor’s Island tomorrow to see what it’s all about. Your friends at Foodtoeat will be there, so make sure to say hello!

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Seven Vendy Cup Finalists Announced

This week the full list of finalists for the top honor known as the Vendy Cup award in this year’s 7th Annual Vendy Awards were finally announced. The seven finalists are all vastly different food vendors, and many are much less known, but no doubt will make a mark on this year’s contest with their delicious food that got them nominated.

Solber Pupusas serves Central American food throughout Brooklyn, and has been serving it’s fare for twelve years now. The truck specializes in pupusas, Salvadoran corn patties that have rarely been brought to American mainstream culture. Nominated previously in 2008, the owners believe its is the pupusa that deserves to win the Vendy Cup, all they do is bring it to their customers.

Eggstravaganza is a popular breakfast cart in Midtown that serves Mexican wraps and egg sandwiches. Creating this cart was a longtime dream for owner Arturo, working in restaurants most of his life to create the perfect blend of his family’s traditional cooking and American styles. The delicious chorizo, made by his father, a butcher, makes Eggstravanza stand out from the competition.

Chimicury el Malecon stands on West 207th street serves Dominican hamburgers called ‘chimis’, and has served Dominican food for 25 years. Business began when Washington Heights and Inwood experienced a growing demand for Dominican food after an influx of Dominican immigrants. Chimicury el Malecon has experienced great neighborhood support over the years, but recognition by the Vendy Awards would catapult them into the spotlight.

Sam’s Falafel is a vendor with 14 years serving in Zucotti Park, originally from Egypt. Owner Sam Ahmed has spent years perfecting his perfect falafel recipe, which shows in his highly desired falafel platters. Everything is made from scratch with high quality ingredients, and though Ahmed was originally a translator in Egypt, cooking has been his true calling.

Souvlaki GR has only been vending for one year, but their signature Greek food has become a staple around the Wall Street area. What makes their food unique is the Greek fries that are stuffed in the savory pitas. The truck’s owners thank their fans and customers for their fortune so far, appearing in last year’s Vendy Awards as well.

Trini-Paki Boys Halal Food is in fact owned by a woman, Fatima Khan, but named after her two sons. The food is a blend of Trinidadian and Pakistani, like Khan and her husband, and specializes in curry chicken and biryanis. Khan ascribes a very loyal customer base to her success, and the cooking skills she learned in her mother’s kitchen.

The last Vendy Cup finalist is Tamales Guadalupe, a Brooklyn vendor with 14 years of experience serving Mexican food. Mexican tamales are the specialty of Guadalupe Galicia, a single mother of five children who works tirelessly for her family. Guadalupe’s tamales are among the best in New York, with customers repeatedly coming back for a taste of their authenticity.

That rounds up the finalists for this year’s Vendy Cup. General admission tickets are sold out but VIP tickets are still available for this Saturday’s event.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

The Vendy Awards Announces Rookie of the Year Finalists

Last week the Rookie Finalists were announced for the NYC 2011 Vendy Awards. The six trucks cover a broad range of tastes, and the full list includes Korilla BBQ, Eddie’s Pizza Truck, Taim Mobile-Falafel & Smoothie Truck, Comme Ci Comme Ca, Eat Here Now Now Eat Here, and Sunrise Grill.

Korilla BBQ has received its fair share of press recently since being featured on the second season of The Great Food Truck Race. Developing a similar model to that of the famous Kogi BBQ in Los Angeles, Korilla was founded by Columbia University graduates looking for a less conventional career path. Their Korean BBQ tacos have become renowned in New York City, with a loyal customer base going to all ends to get their Korean BBQ fix.

Eddie’s Pizza Truck specializes in thin crust pizza and has transformed it into a standard New York street food. The truck was founded by two brothers with a lifelong dream of opening a food truck. Finally they partnered with New Hyde Park’s Eddie’s Pizza to bring the restaurant to NYC. Eddie’s Pizza Truck can be found throughout Manhattan and in the new food truck lot in Long Island City.

Taim Mobile offers a fresh take on traditional Middle Eastern street food. With outstanding sauces, vegetarian options and fresh smoothies, Taim is street food you can feel good about eating. The multicultural team speaks a wide variety of languages, and uses the freshest ingredients in their food, providing great service and food that’s good on all fronts.

Comme Ci Comme Ca is a Mediterranean/Moroccan specialty truck with a wide variety of food that most people can agree on. The truck’s owner Samir began cooking when he first came to this country to avoid eating out every night. Eventually he developed a passion for it and started his own truck. Specializing in a fluffy cous cous, the food is deliciously spiced with juicy meats and savory vegetables.

Eat Here Now Now Eat Here serves tacos and burritos with an Asian twist, and offers a breakfast burrito served all day. These vendors are known for their delicious tortillas, and serve food with a purpose behind it. Truck owner Stan Tankursley spent winters in the Dominican Republic and was deeply affected the earthquake in Haiti. He raised over $10,000 in just a few days for earthquake relief and travelled there to help immediately.

The final contender for the rookie category is the new Jamaican Sunrise Grill Truck. This truck offers real, authentic Jamaican food including oxtails, jerked chicken, curry goat and saltfish. The food can be as spicy as you would like, prepared homemade and seasoned with real island spices.

The six trucks will be featured on September 24th on Governor’s Island in the much anticipated 7th Annual Vendy Awards.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Best of Jersey Vendy Award Finalists Announced

The finalists for the Best of Jersey category in the upcoming 2011 Vendy Awards were recently announced. The three finalists are the Cinnamon Snail, Two Pitas in a Pod, and the Taco Truck.

The Cinnamon Snail is an organic vegan truck, offering breakfast and lunch and dessert pastries as well. The truck can usually be found in Hoboken, nearby the train station and has a special brunch menu available Thursday through Sunday. The Cinnamon Snail was chosen because of their unique, creative and ethical food. The owners of the truck are friendly and outgoing, and change their menu seasonally and often update with daily specials.

Two Pitas in a Pod serves Mediterranean food and fusion specials from around the world. The truck can be seen around Hoboken, Jersey City and Newark, and has received a lot of press recently as one of New Jersey’s most renowned food trucks. A lot of the truck’s popularity has stemmed from the friendly, humorous owners of the truck, who provide excellent, timely service. Of course the food is excellent as well, all the sauces are homemade, and the owners grind the meats themselves, taking a great deal of pride in their truck.

The last New Jersey finalist, the Taco Truck, also travels throughout Hoboken, Newark and Jersey City serving authentic Mexican street food. The Truck makes uses locally grown, organic products whenever possible, and constantly creates unique new tacos for its lunch and dinner menus. Their al pastor taco is a fan favorite, and they accept online orders as well. The Taco Truck takes sustainability very seriously as well, and composts and recycles all of their leftover food and packaging.

These three trucks will all be present alongside the finalists from other categories at this years Vendy Awards, September 24th at Governor’s Island.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com