“The Vendys are the Oscars of food for the real New York.” - Mario Batali
Fernando Xavier Abarca
Fernando Xavier Abarca first became involved with the East LA Community Corporation (ELACC) in the summer of 2013 as an intern on the Legalize Street Vending (LSV) Campaign. One year later, he is a Community Organizer on the same campaign. As a Community Organizer on the LSV campaign he works closely with street vendors and community residents in order to empower and build their leadership skills to fight for their right to work and make a living by legalizing street vending in the city of Los Angeles. As a community organizer on LASVC campaign, Fernando focuses on engaging vendors from the San Fernando Valley area and provide the tools necessary for them to advocate for their rights. Before joining ELACC, Fernando attended Occidental College where he graduated with a dual B.A. degree in Political Science and Spanish in May 2014. During his time as a student at Occidental College he also interned with the Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles where he assisted attorneys on several housing cases affecting low income families across the city of Los Angeles.
Lalo Alcaraz is an award winning visual and media artist, cartoonist satirist, television producer and writer based in Los Angeles. He is the creator of the syndicated daily comic strip, "La Cucaracha" as seen in the L.A. Times and other papers nationwide. Lalo was Consulting Producer and writer at Fox Television's animated program, "Bordertown.” He is also consulting producer on a major studio animated film to be released in 2017. A prolific political cartoonist, Lalo is winner of five Southern California Press Awards for Best Editorial Cartoon, produced editorial cartoons for The LA Weekly from 1992-2010. Lalo's books include the just optioned for TV "A Most Imperfect Union" US graphic novel history book with Ilan Stavans, (2014 Perseus Books), "Latino USA: A Cartoon History, 15th Anniversary Edition" (2012 by Basic Books), "Migra Mouse: Political Cartoons On Immigration, (2005) "La Cucaracha."(2004) He is also Jefe In Chief of satirical website Pocho.com, co-host of KPFK Radio's satirical talk show, "The Pocho Hour of Power," heard Fridays at 4pm in L.A. on 90.7 FM. Lalo has taught illustration at Otis College of Fine Art & Design in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of San Diego State University (BA in Art) and UC Berkeley (Master's in Architecture). Alcaraz is a native of San Diego, so good luck trying to deport him.
Gustavo Arellano is the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, author of Orange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, lecturer with the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at California State University, Fullerton, and a consulting producer on FOX’s animated show, Bordertown. He writes “¡Ask a Mexican!,” a nationally syndicated column in which he answers any and all questions about America's spiciest and largest minority. Gustavo is a lifelong resident of Orange County and is the proud son of two Mexican immigrants, one whom was illegal.
Roberto Garcia Ceballos
Roberto Garcia-Ceballos is a community organizer with the East LA Community Corporation (ELACC) Metro campaign, focusing on the leadership development of involved member-leaders. He first got connected with ELACC through the Right to The City Alliance (RTTC), where he worked with ELACC‘s staff and other member organizations of RTTC to create political education curriculum for the Homes for All campaign. Prior to coming to ELACC he organized with Springfield No One Leaves in Springfield, MA fighting no-fault evictions and foreclosures caused by banks and lending institutions. While in graduate school, he worked with the United Auto Workers 2322 as a labor and social justice educator and organized graduate employees. Roberto received a Master’s in Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and B.A. in Sociology at San Jose State University. As an immigrant born in Mexico City and raised in San Jose, CA - his interest in social justice and community organizing is rooted in firsthand experiences of the barriers that poor people, people of color, immigrants, and other oppressed people face while pursuing self-determination and survival in the United States. Because of these experiences, he feels a strong devotion to base building and conviction in taking the lead of those directly impacted by economic and political inequality.
Beto Duran is a Los Angeles based bilingual sports broadcaster who has covered Southern California sports since 2005, primarily for ESPN Radio 710, as well as on TV for ESPN and Time Warner Cable Sports Net. Currently, he’s the play-by-play announcer for Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Boxing shows that air world wide on Ring TV. He’s covered, the NBA & NHL Finals, MLB Playoffs, MLB All-Star Game, Rose Bowl, Summer & Winter X Games and called play-by-play action for prep baseball, basketball, football, and water polo games. His career started as a paperboy for the Daily Breeze. The Carson High graduate played baseball, ran cross-country and was the sports editor of the school newspaper.
John Echeveste is the CEO of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a nonprofit museum and cultural center that documents and celebrates the Latino history of Los Angeles. Echeveste joined LA Plaza after a 30+ year in Hispanic marketing and has worked as a newspaper reporter, television documentary writer, corporate communications officer, Congressional aide and political campaign manager.
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor of Eater LA, and author of the book Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. His work appears nationally in the online, print, and digital video space, and you can follow him around the internet at @overoverunder.
Novelist Ryan Gattis lives and writes in Los Angeles, where he is a member of the art crew UGLARworks & a founding board member of 1888, a Southern California literary arts non-profit. His most recent book, All Involved: A Novel of the 1992 L.A. Riots, is grounded in 2.5 years of research & background spent with former Latino gang members, firefighters, nurses, & other L.A. citizens who lived through it. Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award & the Lire Award for Noir of the Year in France, the novel has been translated into 11 languages, & its film rights have been acquired by HBO. Food has always featured in his fiction, primarily because he lost his ability to smell & taste when his nose was torn out of his face at age 17. Due to the severity of the injury, Gattis was informed that the nerve damage would likely be permanent. However, one year & two facial reconstructive surgeries later, both senses returned—leading to a renewed appreciation of food & its ability to communicate culture, as well as care.
Ross Resnick is the CEO of Roaming Hunger. Inspired by a semester abroad to Hong Kong and in appreciation for the L.A.’s street eats culture, Ross created and grew Roaming Hunger to become the leading provider of turnkey food truck catering, concessions, and branded promotions, with a network of more than 8,900 food trucks, carts and caterers. Ross and Roaming Hunger have been featured in major publications including Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Associated Press, Goop, Entrepreneur, Thrillist, AdAge, Buzzfeed, Forbes and National Geographic and have won multiple awards, including Best Places to Work in Los Angeles. When he’s not turning people into food truck fans or working on making Roaming Hunger into a worldwide brand, Ross enjoys spending time with his family, eating from local hotspots and attempting to cook his favorite dishes.
Jess Rosales is a SoCal native currently living in the San Fernando Valley. She began her career in broadcasting with Time Warner Cable and could be seen on the sidelines covering sports for local high schools and as a host for “Beyond the Diamond” and Dodgers on Demand among many other programs. She also spent time covering movie junkets and red carpet events such as The World Premiere for The Lone Ranger and Boardwalk Empire's Season premiere red carpet. After her time with TWC she started a new venture in boxing with Golden Boy Promotions and Fox Sports 1 as the ringside reporter for “Golden Boy Live”. At the time, Rosales was also working as an Anchor for TVG, the horse racing network and spent a quick minute as the in-stadium host for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rosales is still working in boxing, covering PPV boxing events and fights broadcast on HBO for HBO Latino and is back with the boys of summer, as an in-stadium host for the Dodgers. She has one dog (Baby) and one cat (Magic Michael) and enjoys watching sports with her godson Karmelo (favorite sports: boxing and baseball) as well as traveling (favorite place: London) spending time with family and friends (Favorite BFF: Lexina) and she enjoys long walks on the beach and eating (favorite food: anything that tastes delicious). This is her first time as a food judge and one item crossed off her bucket list. Bring on the tacos!
When Evelyn Taft isn’t telling us about the next SoCal heat wave every morning on CBS 2, you can find her eating her way through LA's finest food trucks and restaurants with her husband and two kids. Evelyn is a California native with Russian roots and has traveled extensively around Europe, Asia and Latin America enjoying local and regional cuisines wherever she possibly could. Her goto taco order is usually lengua and a horchata but she typically prefers her salsa less than spicy.
Ben Waters is the coowner and editorinchief of L.A. Foodie, a blog (lafoodie.com), social media hub & video source covering all the best food in Los Angeles. He also hosts podcasts for L.A. Foodie, with recent guests including Emeril Lagasse, Danny Trejo, and T.J. Miller. His writing has been featured on Food & Wine’s FWx site and he’s made appearances on CBS, NBC, KTLA, KPCC, and several other combinations of capital letters. When he's not focusing on the tastier side of life, Ben is editing features like the awardwinning comic strip documentary Stripped.
Lisa Waters knew the culinary arts would somehow play a big role in her life at a young age, proudly proclaiming that her favorite subject in school was “lunch”, and that she aced it everyday. Now she’s the coowner of and chief photographer for L.A. Foodie; a blog (lafoodie.com), social media hub, podcast & video source covering all the best food in Los Angeles. Her work has been featured on Food & Wine’s FWx site, Locale Magazine, and CBS. Lisa and her coowner & husband Ben both hail from Kansas City, which is a lot like L.A. minus the beaches, great weather, megarich people, and traffic.
Our Vendy host, Sarah Baicker, co-hosts Breakfast on Broad, Philadelphia's first and only morning sports talk TV show. That means there's no food she won't eat (or drink she won't drink) before 7 a.m. -- burgers, ice cream, beer ... she's had it all before you've had your coffee. Though she's best known for her coverage of the Flyers, Sarah is no stranger to the Philly food scene. She served as a judge for WIP radio's Food Hunt in 2015, helping to crown the region's best bacon dish. In 2013, she created a celebrity sandwich for American Sardine Bar that was met with rave reviews.
Danya Henninger is culture editor at Billy Penn, a Philadelphia-based local news site. She grew up in New York City, then moved to Philly and fell deeply in love with her new hometown. A freelance beer and food writer and photographer, she's also a restaurant critic for the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill. She has contributed to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vice Munchies, All About Beer and Edible Philly. In 1997, she founded photo-video firm Imagic Digital with husband Mark Henninger.
A Philly-based food and drink writer, Drew Lazor has contributed to Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, Lucky Peach, Food Network, Food Republic, the Philadelphia Inquirer, PUNCH and Serious Eats. More at drewlazor.com.
A.K.A John F'n Cohl, the "F" stands for foodtrucks. PMFA Goodwill Ambassador. Number One Philly Foodtruck Fan. 2015 Twitter host for Taste of Three Cities - Philly. Social media host for multiple foodtruck events. Brand ambassador for multiple food and beverage products. Judge for more than a dozen food and foodtruck competitions and in-house Twitter host for Iron Hill Brewery at the Maple Shade location.
Jane Kauer is a bio-cultural anthropologist who has lived in Philadelphia for 36 of her 49 years, 23 of them consecutively, as of now. She has studied monkey eating behavior, human food choice, and American picky eaters (adults, kids). For many years, she taught courses at a Penn, on the anthropology and cultural politics of food and bodies, as well as writing. During that time she developed a heightened sense of both the immense hunger felt by Philadelphians for lack of healthy food, and the great love of good food by Philadelphians throughout our city. Jane is board chair for Rebel Ventures (www.rvcrew.com), a terrific social enterprise in West Philly started by a colleague with high school students that employs students developing and making healthy delicious snacks for kids in local schools. She hopes that she adds a tiny bit to our great food city, in service, by cooking, and especially by eating!
Katera is the Director of the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania's Netter Center for Community Partnerships. She is an urban geographer who thinks critically about the political and economic structures that create inequality, and considers food justice to be a symptom of residential inequality. As an experienced K-12 and undergraduate educator, she has an orientation towards service and works to produce meaningful outcomes for urban youth. The geographer in Katera compels her to travel and connect food to place, as well as seek out food that provides a historical reflection of culture and identity. She has a fondness for cooking and enjoys the complex flavors of ethnic cuisine. She travels the silk, spice, and incense routes through cooking, dabbling in everything from Abyssinian to Ottoman cuisine. Her family's favorite foods are Filipino, Eritrean, and Indian -- and, of course, her acclaimed carrot cakes.
Valerie Safran & Chef Marcie Turney
As two of Philadelphia’s most prominent and ambitious businesswomen, Chef Marcie Turney has worked for more than a decade alongside her business partner Valerie Safran to transform the once-desolate 13th Street neighborhood into what has become known as the trendy “Midtown Village.” Today, Chef Turney and Safran’s wildly popular restaurants in the neighborhood are thriving. Recognition and praise for Chef Turney’s cooking – and entrepreneurship – has been universal, including being named a 2014 semi-finalist for ‘Outstanding Restaurateur’ by the James Beard Foundation. In 2013, The New York Times put the pair front and center in their piece profiling the neighborhood: “These days, however, check-cashing joints and adult bookshops have been replaced by ‘reservations a must’ restaurants and high-end gelato shops, thanks largely to the efforts of Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney.” Philadelphia magazine named her and Safran among the “10 Best Philadelphians.”
Our Vendy host, Dillon Stevenson is a comedian and writer based out of New York City. He’s performed at Broadway Comedy Club, Gotham Comedy Club, The Upright Citizens Brigade, The PIT and all over NYC. As 1/5 of the DeceptiComics, he travels the country producing and performing in mercilessly hilarious stand up shows. A founder of the sketch comedy group G.R.I.T.S., Dillon has assumed every role in creating and producing video and live sketches. In addition he’s an accomplished student of the UCB, a member of the indie improv scene in NY, and contributed as a staff writer for SlantNews.Com. He’s been in front of crowds at New York Comic-Con 2015, the Cape May Comedy Festival and the 2016 NYC Improv Festival. Named as one of OkayPlayer.com’s Faces of Black Twitter, and Hip-Hop Wired’s Black Twitter 100, Dillon has proven to be a comedic force online as well as on stage. Follow him @TheDiLLon1
Chitra Agrawal runs Brooklyn Delhi, an award-winning Indian condiments company. Since 2009, Chitra has been writing about, serving and teaching her family's vegetarian recipes from India with a slant on seasonality and community supported agriculture. She is the author of the recipe blog The ABCDs of Cooking and is currently working on her first cookbook (Spring 2017, Penguin Random House) on South Indian home cooking. Chitra's cooking and condiments have been featured in The New York Times, Saveur, Food & Wine & Zagat.
Helen Hollyman is Editor-in-Chief of MUNCHIES, VICE’s food website. She’s a former cook, truffle dealer, and radio host. Helen Hollyman got her start at Food & Wine Magazine and has worked under award-winning pastry chef Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar and for food writers Mark Bittman and Amanda Hesser. She has written for a variety of publications that include GQ, Saveur, Lucky Peach, and Time Out Magazine. You can check out more of her work at: ulookhungry.com
Daniel Holzman is the Chef/Owner of The Meatball Shop. Daniel started his cooking career at the age of 15 at Le Bernardin in New York City. In 2010, Daniel teamed up with his childhood friend Michael Chernow to debut The Meatball Shop on New York City's Lower East Side. Daniel has appeared in countless broadcast segments including ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s TODAY Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as well as in an array of widely reaching local and national publications such as The New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur, People, Food Network Magazine and GQ.
Julia Moskin, a lifelong New Yorker, has been a New York Times Food staff reporter since 2004. She writes news articles (including the first reporting on Korean fried chicken in the U.S.), profiles (of everyone from Paula Deen to Chrissy Teigen), and exposés (startling readers with the fact that most sushi is frozen, not fresh; and revealing the violence faced by food vendors in Midtown Manhattan). More controversially, she has revealed the frequent use of ghostwriters by celebrity cookbook authors, and her investigation into the finances of the James Beard Foundation led to the resignation of its entire board of trustees. Recently, she's been investigating the best recipes for kitchen classics in her video column Recipe Lab.
Nicole A. Taylor
Nicole Taylor currently hosts Hot Grease, a food culture podcast, and is the author of The UpSouth Cookbook: Chasing Dixie in a Brooklyn Kitchen. She has contributed to First We Feast, Cherry Bombe, Amtrak, Gravy, and Travel Noire. She has been featured in The New York Times, Ebony Magazine,The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and New Republic. Taylor lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Isabella Garcia our 2016 Citizen Judge. She is the owner of STAE Concierge, a company that helps non-profits and healthcare professionals with program development, management, and travel and event coordination. Isabella enjoys volunteering with the homeless community and in disaster relief and sustainable development projects throughout the world. Born and raised in Indonesia to a family of street food lovers (and vendor), she enjoys seeking local foods and hangouts on her travels. Isabella has a soft-spot for grilled cheese, foods on a stick, truffles, tagines, and paleo dishes. She loves to bake, cook, tango and has a secret obsession with aprons.
Chef Chloe Coscarelli first earned national attention after winning the Food Network’s reality-competition series “Cupcake Wars”, as the first vegan chef to win a culinary competition on national television. Following her television debut, Chloe published three cookbooks: Chloe’s Kitchen (2012); Chloe’s Vegan Desserts (2013) & Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen (2014) with Simon and Schuster; all currently featured on Amazon’s list of “100 Best-Selling” cookbooks. In 2014, Chloe partnered with ESquared Hospitality to bring healthy, delicious and satisfying vegan and plant-based dishes to the masses with the launch of fast casual restaurant concept, by CHLOE.
Chef Adam Sobel runs the 4-time Vendy award winning Cinnamon Snail food truck. Adam's truck still rocks events in NYC and NJ, and his brick and mortar location at 33rd/7th in Manhattan has become a midtown staple. Adam's cookbook "Street Vegan" tells the story of the adventures and misadventures running one of the country's most loved food trucks, and is jam-packed with absurdly yummy recipes.
THE VENDY AWARDS
“The Vendys are the Oscars of food for the real New York.” - Mario Batali