A Little Rain Can’t Keep the 10th Annual Vendy Awards Down

Vendy Awards

The annual Vendy Awards commenced this past weekend with typical fanfare – the live bands played with gusto, the crowd happily munched on food and sipped beer & wine, a mob of volunteers ushered in order and cleanliness, and an eclectic gathering of vendors busted their ass and served some seriously amazing food. This could have been any Vendy award, other than the fact that this festival marked its 10 year anniversary, and that for the first time in this writer’s memory, Mother Nature paid a visit.

Not that a little rain could deter the crowd’s spirits – the “Oscar’s of Food” kept moving with its tradition of serving fantastic food and drink, all the while promoting the important cause of providing support to the Street Vendor Project, a not-for-profit project that provides legal representation for all NYC street vendors – from dirty water hotdog carts to hipster vegan food trucks.

And the winners…

Photo Credit: Vendy Awards

Hero of the Year – Baare Batchiri who helped the NYPD apprehend a violent criminal, even after getting stabbed.

Photo Credit: Vendy Awards
Best Desert – Ice & Vice

Best Market Vendor – Zhà Pan Asian

I was a huge fan of Zhà Pan Asian’s twist on arincini – fried balls of rice with a shatteringly crisp exterior and creamy interior. The Zhà Pan Asian team showcased their savory Thai green chicken curry and zesty Korean fried rice balls filled with bulgogi and topped with spicy gochujang.

Rookie of the Year – Snowday Truck

The crowd seemed to be smitten with Snowday’s savory and sweet treats, including grilled cheese sandwiches touched by maple syrup, gazpacho, and shaved ice.

Photo Credit: Clay Williams
Masters Cup – Calexico

People’s Choice – Nuchas Empanadas

Vendy Cup Award – Cinnamon Snail Truck

The Cinnamon Snail Truck is no stranger to the Vendy Awards, having made several appearances in its half decade of operations. Despite setbacks, the plucky Cinnamon Snail crew continue to serve high quality vegan food with a smile.

In addition to the much deserved winning vendors, there was plenty of fantastic food on hand, served from vendors both new and old. Here is a round up of some of my favorites of the day.

The Desi Food Truck served a ‘game changing’ puri bhaji. This pastry like morsel featured a super crispy rice puff shell around a savory filling of chicken curry.

Bolivian Llama Party – which would make an awesome Indie punk band name – served the Bolivian take on empanadas called saltena’s, as well as super flavorful mini sandwiches called chola’s, which were stuffed with braised pork and cured pork belly.

NY Dosa cart proprietor, Thiru Kumar, was also in attendance to represent the Masters Cup. Mr. Kumar’s legendary dosas were every bit as savory, crisp, and satisfying as I’d recalled from years past.

I couldn’t help but grin when I saw Freddy Zeidaies manning his booth. The ‘King of Falafel’ has made a name for himself with his gregarious personality and ridiculously good shwarma and falafel. Ever the entertainers and showmen, the King of Falafel crew alternated handing out freshly fried falafel to the crowds and putting on impromptu belly dancing sessions.

Dub Pies had a great showing, serving savory mini veggie curry, chicken, and beef pies topped with creamy mash, mushy peas and gravy. I loved the flakiness of the pies and the heartiness of the fillings and toppings. A shot of complimentary Counter Culture cold brewed coffee made it even better.

Rookie nominee GoGo Grill had a good thing going on with the Garibaldi sandwich – meltingly tender pulled pork, slaw, and aioli sandwiched in an English muffin and accompanied by a refreshing side salad.

Big D’s Khao Cart was also there, serving the Loco Grande dish that I’d previously vouched for. Each serving came with a runny egg, plenty of gravy, and a juicy burger patty over white rice. There was also a nicely spiced Vietnamese roast chicken over dirty rice.

Our old friends, Hallo Berlin, showed up with a vengeance, serving multiple wursts, fried potatoes and sauerkraut.

2011 Vendy Cup award winner, Solber Pupusas, could have won the award for longest lines. But such hype was much deserved, as the pupusas – thick tortillas stuffed with either chicken or beans – were every bit as hearty and comforting as I remember them to be.

Despite a spot or two of inclement weather, the 10th annual Vendy Awards hummed along like past years – full bellies, smiles, and a wonderful sense of community. During a passing shower, huddled under an umbrella, the gal behind me in line remarked, “these [street vendors] deal with rain and snow all the time… this is like nothing!”

Indeed, the Vendy Awards represent an idealistic slice of life in the day of a New York City street vendor – it recalls everything that makes our street food culture so amazing and so hard fought and won.


  • This year’s Vendys was wonderful. I do think the weather may have played a roll in the crowds not being as large as in previous years on Governors Island. Only gripe I had was the handling of the entrance. The volunteers, while awesome, were also not on the same page. They were sending people to all different areas and some did not know where people who were entering as part of General Admission needed to line up.

    I missed out on having a Dough doughnut because the bees were loving them.

  • My vote for Best Desert goes to the Gobi.

    I hear those guys at Ice & Vice have great desserts, though.

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