By Siobhan Wallace
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Over 1,000 street food lovers flocked to Sunset Park’s Industry City this past Saturday for the ninth annual Vendy Awards. This year, vendors from New York and New Jersey competed in seven categories while over 50 were honored for their outreach efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Red Hook’s El Olomega took home top honors while Itizy Ice Cream the Nuchas truck were also among the winners.
The best of the newest vendors were on hand for the Rookie Award: the carts Mamek and Mysttik Masaala, and food trucks Neapolitan Express, Nuchas, Sweet Chili, and Toum. All the vendors had lines throughout the event, but the Asian cuisines and pizza ultimately lost out to Nuchas’ Argentinean empanadas.
For a second year in a row, vendors from New York City’s outdoor markets were represented with their own category. Bon Chovie, Brooklyn Cured, Lonestar Taco, and Porchetta all came in after the Thai street food served by Khao Man Gai.
A few years ago, the Vendys wanted to include our neighbors on the other side of the Hudson and created the Best of New Jersey category. This year, the finalists included The French Quarter, Hunger Construction, Molly’s Milk Truck, Tony Baloney’s Mustache Mobile, and the ultimate winner, Home by the Range. Their braised beef sandwich also snagged them the Tide “Messy, Yet Tasty” award.
The vendors up for the main category of The Vendy Cup came from across the city: Woodlawn’s The Chipper Truck, Astoria’s King Souvlaki, Red Hook’s El Olomega, along with two food trucks: Luke’s Lobster and The Cinnamon Snail. The audience was taken with Luke’s lobster rolls and lobster grilled cheese as the truck was named People’s Choice. The judges, though, went smitten with El Olomega’s authentic El Salvadorian pupusas.
Everyone partook in the largest category: Best Dessert. Seven vendors dished out sweets from ice cream to the Ecuadorean egg whites-and-sugar confection of espumilla. But neither the fresh doughnuts from Carpe Donut nor the refreshing frozen lemonade from Del’s could win out against the food truck, Itizy Ice Cream. The truck offered a number of their handcrafted ice creams, which undoubtedly encouraged the audience to vote for them.
The Vendy Awards is run by the Street Vendor Project, a membership-based project that is a part of the Urban Justice Center, a local non-profit organization that provides legal representation and advocacy to various marginalized groups. The Vendy Awards is the Street Vendor Project’s main annual fundraiser.
Siobhan Wallace is the author of New York à la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple’s Best Food Trucks .