Vendors Face Tough Competition For Spots At Smorgasburg Food Festival

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With the warmer weather comes street fairs and food festivals, and one of the largest food fests in the country called Smorgasburg goes on outdoors in Williamsburg, Brooklyn every weekend.

The festival is so popular that food vendors have to compete to take part. CBS2’s Cindy Hsu went behind the scenes at a tasting Wednesday.

It was go time for the guys from City Tamale, who prepared a mushroom tamale with salsa verde and white cheese for the Smorgasburg tasting team.

For the team, taste is just part of the game. They also judge showmanship.

“If you just have a bunch of tamales in a pot behind you, it’s like important to be doing something or something for people to watch,” said Eric Demby of Smorgasburg.

The Smorgasburg office gets about 1,000 applications a year for the chance to sell food at the festival. The lucky ones make it to the tasting stage, and from there, just 20 vendors are chosen each year.

The food fest is every weekend in Williamsburg and Prospect Park, and there are 100 vendors to choose from. The most unusual and colorful foods are huge on social media.

An Instagram picture of Wowfulls – Hong Kong egg waffles served as cones for ice cream – got 18,000 likes.

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At Smorgasburg, you will find everything from chocolate wing dings to ramen noodle burgers — which have had the longest line for years selling 1,200 burgers in a day.

Right now, one of the hottest sellers is spaghetti doughnuts Luigi Fiorentino of Pop Pasta said 600 to 700 of them are being sold per day.

Pop Pasta only joined Smorgasburg a few months ago, and the first two weekends, they brought about 300 doughnuts and they quickly sold out.

As for taste, there’s nothing sweet. It’s like eating spaghetti, mac and cheese or carbonara pasta shaped like a doughnut.

“We thought that it would be great to create a new shape that is easy to hold and it’s not messy and you could take it anywhere,” said Emily Gargiulo of Pop Pasta.

Pop Pasta has already heard from companies around the world interested in the doughnuts. Smorgasburg has been a springboard for some of the vendors to start restaurants and give up their day jobs.

The biggest advice, Demby said, is, “try to do one or maybe two things extremely well. Go to the place where the food originated and then put your own twist on it.”

The guys from City Tamale won’t hear whether they made the cut for a few days.

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