Photo: Sarah De Heer, AOL
This past Saturday on Governors Island in New York City, the Vendy Awards took place, which is basically the equivalent of the Oscars for food trucks. Over 15 food trucks from New York and Philadelphia (more on that below) lined the grassy park, serving everything from schnitzel to slushies, tacos to bread pudding.
The Vendy Awards were created to help raise money for the Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice League, a non-profit organization that provides vendors with legal representation and advocacy. If you were lucky enough to get in early, a tax-deductible $85 ticket bought you all-you-can-eat access to food from each of the finalists' carts and the opportunity to vote for the People's Choice Award, the Dessert Vendor of the Year and the Rookie Vendor of the Year.
This years judges included a prestigious panel of media and chef personalities: Leslie Koch, Molly O'Neill, Aaron Sanchez, Stephen Starr and Tanya Wenman Steel.
What makes the Vendy's so exciting is being able to witness first hand how hard the men and women who operate these trucks work. Every day, they pour their blood, sweat and tears into their small food establishment on wheels (some of them for over 21 years) -- it is their passion and it is reflected in their food.
As the award ceremony approached, the owners and chefs gathered their crews around the stage -- anxiety and excitement written clearly on their faces. For one owner especially, everything was riding on this year's awards: Fares "Freddy" Zeidas of King of Falafel had been nominated for the Vendy Cup twice before, and was more than ready to take this award home to his family, friends and loyal customers. He was certainly the talk of the festival -- would he finally win?
In the end, every food truck proved worthy of being there. However, only three would win. And here are this year's Vendy Award Winners:
The People's Choice and Vendy Cup Winner
King of Falafel & Shawarma -- 30th Street and Broadway, Astoria, NY
The Dessert Truck Winner
Kelvin Natural Slush Co. -- 5th Ave and 22nd Street, New York, NY
Rookie of the Year
Souvlaki GR -- Union Square weekdays for dinner (6 p.m. to 11 p.m.), and in Soho weekends from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
So what's next for The Vendy's? In 2011, they will be expanding it's award ceremony to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia.