The Vendy Awards are the first street food event and competition series in the USA. It's an intense cook-off between the most popular sidewalk chefs in New York City and a fundraiser to support The Street Vendor Project.
A team of distinguished judges score the finalists and decide who will win the prestigious "Vendy Cup." Attendees choose our People’s Choice Award winner, as well as winners in the other categories. Check out our Past Winners!
The Vendys celebrate NYC's unique food culture, promote small businesses and help raise funds to provide legal aid, advocacy and loan access to our city's street vendors.
The Basket's picnic-themed cart can be found at several locations, including Central Park and Madison Square Park. Dondi, Dean and Adam recently launched The Basket to provide gourmet sandwiches, charcuterie and cheeses to New Yorkers ready for a picnic in the park. Previously, Dondi worked as a street vendor selling bubble blowers. Dondi is a U.S. disabled Navy veteran, is heavily involved in the Street Vendor Project's Veterans Committee and recently joined his community board in the South Bronx. Dean and Adam's favorite NYC pastime is enjoying the city's parks, so The Basket is the perfect picnic partnership!
Harlem Seafood Soul is Harlem's #1 eco-friendly mobile food kitchen! Tami, who has lived in Harlem her entire life, is passionate about her menu offerings of shrimp and grits, po' boys and other tasty seafood specialties that are sold out of her beautiful cart in West Harlem. For many years, Tami cooked and sold food out of her church. She launched Harlem Seafood Soul in March 2016 and is already gearing up for a second cart to hit the streets this summer.
Caitlyn and Carlos are a foodie couple who not only are self-taught chefs but also built their own food truck. Carlos has been a firefighter in the Bronx for many years and continues to work for FDNY when not on the food truck, Caitlyn worked int he food and beverage industry for years and wanted to do something of her own. Los Viajeros began serving tacos, burritos and quesadillas last year because they love Latin flavors and are inspired by Dominican, Cuban and Mexican cultures. The Los Viajeros Food Truck can be found in Manhattan at the Flatiron building and in the Uptown Manhattan at La Marina as well as in the Bronx Jacobi Medical Center. Caitlyn and Carlos have always been inspired by food and traveling. Since each country they've visited has influenced their business, Los Viajeros ("the travelers") seemed like the perfect fit for the name of their new food truck.
Born and raised in New York, Brian Goldberg fell in love with jianbing while studying Chinese in Beijing in 1998, where there was a street cart right outside his school that fed students these hot and fresh Chinese crepes. Made right in front of his eyes and customized to his liking, jianbing was the perfect meal-on-the-go, anytime of day or night. After moving back to the U.S., Brian missed jianbing so much that he and his friends held reunion parties just to recreate the experience at home. It was then that Brian realized he wasn't the only one obsessed with "the bing". He is excited to introduce the world to this traditional Chinese street food.
Owned by Michael, a DJ, Russell, a promoter, and Andrew, owner of a salon and spa, Puran Dhaka is the first food cart in New York City exclusively serving Bengali food. With Chef Jewels and cart operator Ammad, Puran Dhaka sells authentic biryani and samosas just as they are served in Bangladesh. You can find their cart in Jackson Heights and Astoria for dinner and Wall Street Plaza for lunch.
It has been a long time coming but is finally here: A Filipino-inspired food truck in New York City! As he grew up in the food industry and learned the uniqueness of Filipino cuisine, Manny always felt fortunate to build an incredible palette from Filipino flavors! This is what fuels Manny's goal: to bring Filipino food to the streets of NYC for everyone. Filipino's as well as those who thrive on new and adventurous flavor experiences love Sisig City's twist on tacos, nachos and quesadillas.
Danny works for the City of New York and started his arepa business three years ago as a way to help save for his children's future. He and his wife are both from Colombia and decided to sell these corn-based delights because they represented their cultural heritage. The whole family helps with the business, selling their traditional areas made of 100% white corn and topped with cheese, avocado and/or meats as well as arepa cones, which offer a unique spin on this Colombian staple. Danny and the rest of the Arepalicious family can be found on Saturdays at eh Queens Night Market and on Sundays at Vendy Plaza.
Big Mozz launched in April, 2015 at Smorgasburg, stretching fresh mozzarella every weekend and building menus around that core concept. After a great start, they launched Big Mozz Sticks, where they serve hand-made mozzarella sticks and red sauce to thousands of hungry foodies every weekend. For 2016, they've grown the company to include stalls at Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Flea, Central Park Summerstage, and Smorgasburg Los Angeles, as well as catering and special events and concerts. They also launched Big Mozz Pizza this year, after Smorgasburg invited them to serve wood-fired pizza (using their hand-stretched mozz) at all of their markets. The team is led by Matt Gallira (CEO), Elliott Anderson (CFO), and Jimmy Warren (Executive Chef).
Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Sagi and Eyal are both musicians now based in NYC. Sagi has an indie rock/pop band called James Dawn and Eyal is a commercial and music video cinematographer. MATZAHBREI is completely vegetarian, only using cage-free eggs and can also be prepared vegan. The inspiration behind this business is to provide a modern update to this wonderful Passover dish and make it available to all people, all year long. MATZAHBREI can be found at the Hester Street Fair, HBO Summer Film Festival and Astoria Night Market.
NJS is owned by mother and son team, Nancy and Jean Paul Medina. Along with several family members, they sell "Colombian-style" hotdogs at LIC Flea & Food on weekends. Each NJS hotdog is topped with homemade sauce, pickled vegetables, fresh fruit preserves, potato chips and more to balance out the sweet and salty flavors. The Medinas believe that their love for food and family shines through in the all-natural hotdogs they serve.
In 1999, Tuti served her satay to her daughter's birthday party guests. It was so successful that friends and family started ordering satay from her. One week later, she began selling at the Indonesian Community Mosque in Queens, where she still sells Indonesia's favorite street food on Fridays. Every Indonesian in NYC knows Tuti's satay, so Wulan, Charlie and Dian all stepped in to help Tuson Sate branch out into Manhattan in early 2016. Their goal is to make Indonesian food famous in the same way that Japanese, Chinese and Thai dishes are recognized. In addition to the Indonesian Community Mosque, their grilled beef, chicken and seitan skewers can be found at Hester Street Fair and Bryant Park.
These authentic New Orleans "snoballs" are made and sold by New Orleanian, Rebecca Duckert. When people think of New Orleans as a food destination, gumbo, étouffée and beignets come to mind. However, since she was a little girl, Rebecca's favorite treat has been the snoball, NOLA's version of shaved ice made with machines patented in New Orleans. Sweetface Snoballs offers favorites like "nectar" and "Creole Cream Cheese" flavors along with experimental and sugar-free options. Sweetface Snoballs was borne out of Rebecca's personal nostalgia for her hometown and the foods of her childhood. You can find her at LIC Flea, plus other markets and festivals throughout the NYC area.
Chef Anna Gordon and husband Steve Hartong started The Good Batch six years ago. Their mission is to bring joy to the community through delicious, thoughtfully-prepared treats inspired by their culture, seasons and cravings. The Good Batch sells their unique twist on ice cream sandwiches from their cart at Smorgasburg and The Brooklyn Flea.
Darren Wong and his Raindrop Cake teammates, Kyle Cheung and Thu Dang have been vending at Smorgasburg for only a few months but their raindrop has already made a splash! The Raindrop Cake is inspired by traditional izu shingen mochi from Japan and comes with a variety of toppings, such as roasted soy bean powder and sweet matcha sauce. Darren worked in advertising for ten years before leaving to focus on Raindrop Cake full-time. He loves introducing people to this light, delicate and refreshing raindrop made for your mouth.
Fiancées, August and John are obsessed with funnel cakes and sell their sweet (and savory!) treats at LIC Flea & Food. In addition to offering innovative flavors and toppings, they've reinvented the funnel cake by offering manageable portions that are gluten-free for all to enjoy. As a young black couple, their goal is for A Lil' Bit of Fun to give hope to their community and inspire peers to become entrepreneurs.
Delmy lives in Astoria and has been selling obleas (caramel-filled Ecuadorian/Colombian wafers) in Jackson Heights for three years. Delmy is from El Salvador and came to the U.S. in 1972. She became a street vendor after injuries prevented her from continuing in her previous career. She enjoys meeting new people and learning about their cultures, so selling obleas connects her with many different types of people. When you stop by her cart under the Junction Boulevard subway stop, make sure to try the oblea with blackberry filling!
While traveling in Southeast Asia, Bamboo Bites' founder made genuine connections with amazing people, often through food. His curiosity overtook him when he discovered what looked like bamboo sticks being sold along the roadside; he had to see what was inside... What he found was sticky sweet rice, even more irresistible than its cool bamboo casing. Bamboo Bites now shares sticky rice, snacks and street foods with people inspired by genuine travel and human connection. Focusing on flavors from places where bamboo grows, their recipes will take you to far-away lands... How do you bamboo?
Rebecca and Chris have both been vegetarian and vegan for over 20 years. They love the food they make and enjoy sharing it with everyone. They serve plant-based proteins that they make themselves and have recently expanded their focus to vegan BBQ. You can find their vegan smokehouse at Smorgasburg, where they have been serving extraordinary food, that happens to be vegan, for three years.
Elsie Darrell's interest in the kitchen first developed at an early age growing up in Guyana. The second youngest of 14 children, she would help her mother cook dinner for their family every night. At age 17, Elsie moved to New York City, where she and her sisters ran a successful Caribbean restaurant in Harlem. She then opened a restaurant with her son but due to steep rent hikes, they were forced to shut down. Elsie is the head chef of Jerk Shack, with her son J. Anthony. his wife Kelly and their daughter, Khloe heavily involved in both their food truck, which can be found in front of Harlem Hospital, and their market stall at Vendy Plaza. The Jerk Shack specializes in traditional Caribbean cuisine, which includes vegan meals inspired by the traditional Ital Rastafarian diet.
Originally from Bombay, Yuvaraaj previously worked in the jewelry business. It was his son, Rishi's dream to sell home-cooked Indian food using high quality spices directly flown in from India. He has since handed over his jewelry business to his brother and sister so that he has the freedom to run Mysttik Masaala and feed "heavenly meals" to New Yorkers. Mysttik Masaala's cart can be found 7 days a week in midtown at 54th Street & Park Ave and always serves several vegan offerings.
Wes was raised in Los Angeles in the 1990's, where he became enthralled in volunteering and organic farming. As a disabled veteran, he is ready to serve healthy and eco-friendly products to everyone in NYC and has a goal of employing other disabled veterans at his food carts. In addition to launching The Vegan Bandwagon in partnership with Marty's V Burger, he is trained as an audio engineer and currently works for a mobile food vendor doing food prep and service. This experience has shown him what it takes to succeed in the business and he is excited to make a meaningful impact in the industry.
Marina started Yeah Dawg in June of 2013 after having spent the previous 5.5 years working at a homeless youth shelter as a chef and counselor. Her job at the shelter was to introduce kids that were used to fast food to healthy meals and had to make the meals accessible and familiar. This is where her mission of reinventing "Classic American" food began. The Yeah Dawg team believes that people can be healed by food and their food is made from love with the goal of a better tomorrow for people, animals, and the environment. Yeah Dawg offers a refreshing and healthy take on classics such as hotdogs.
When Ivette and Jesus Villalobos’ dad quit his job as a tax driver to buy a food truck, they were there to help out with the family business. After graduating from college, they took over the truck while their dad runs a restaurant in Inwood. Having spent part of their childhood in Venezuela, Ivette and Jesus are excited to share the street food they grew up with. One of their most popular menu items is the yoyo, a sandwich using sweet plantains as the bun, which is a speciality of their hometown of Maracaibo. The Villalobos family is from Maspeth, Queens but you can find their truck at Hanover Square and Varick and Houston Street in Manhattan.
Gladis Cocha lives and vends in East Williamsburg. She moved to Brooklyn from Quito, Ecuador 12 years ago and has been a street vendor for 9 years. Before launching her own business, Gladis sold fruit on the streets of Brooklyn. You can now find her every day selling her chicken, cheese and beef empanadas (also referred to as “pastelitos”) at the corner of Debevoise Street and Graham Avenue in East Williamsburg. Gladis is known throughout the neighborhood for her big smile and fresh “secret recipe” salsa.
As a teenager, Felix Soriano worked as a dishwasher, where he was mentored by a chef in Chelsea who taught him how to prepare Italian and French cuisine. When Felix decided to branch out on his own, he wanted to serve the food he grew up with in Oaxaca, Mexico and decided to launch in Sunset Park, where he has lived for 22 years. Tacos el Rancho makes home-style Oaxacan food with fresh produce, homemade salsa and handmade tortillas. Since finishing school, Felix’s two sons, Dennis and Nelson, have become partners in the business. The Soriano family is passionate about food and loves spending time together - you can taste the love in their tacos! Find them at 44th Street & 5th Avenue in Brooklyn!
Yuanzhen Wang lives in Flushing, Queens with his wife and three daughters. He’s been running his food truck for four years with his daughters working alongside him. Before moving to the U.S., Yuanzhen was a chef in China and wanted to share the specialities of the region he is from, Henan, in central China. Every day next to Washington Square Park, you can find his truck serving his signature spicy lamb burgers and fresh hand-pulled noodles to hungry NYU students.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CAN I SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER AT THE VENDY AWARDS?
Interested in volunteering at our NYC event? If you would like to have your name added to the list to be alerted when volunteer sign-up opens in August, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, if you can't wait for that "Vendy" experience, sign up to volunteer at our outdoor market, Vendy Plaza here!
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE AWARDS?
Finalists arrive with their carts/trucks and prepare their best eats for Vendy attendees and judges. Brooklyn Brewery Beer, Santa Cristina wine, and non-alcoholic beverages will be plentiful, with tables and chairs for the food-weary. There will be music, performances, and a raffle, culminating in a short ceremony naming the award winners!
Please wear comfortable shoes. Each year we work to shorten the lines, but standing in line is part of the Vendy – and street food – experience. We can’t say if any marriages have come out of people waiting in line together, but we do know that many friendships have been born as people wait for their chance to sample the finalists’ food.
WHICH AWARDS WILL BE GIVEN?
One finalist will be awarded the Vendy Cup and title of Vendy Award winner. Additional awards will be given to the People’s Choice Award winner, the Dessert Category winner, Rookie Vendor of the Year, Market Vendor Award & a special surprise category.
HOW ARE THE FINALISTS SELECTED?
We take public nominations until early July to determine the lucky vendors that are invited to compete against each other for street food glory.
HOW IS THE WINNER SELECTED?
At the event, we’ll have a team of distinguished judges score the finalists and decide who get the coveted "Vendy Cup." Attendees choose our People’s Choice Award winner, as well as winners in the other categories.
CAN I BUY MY TICKET AT THE DOOR?
The event usually sells out. Tickets will not be available at the door.
IS THE EVENT RAIN OR SHINE?
Street vendors are outdoors all year long working in all sorts of weather - to respect their time, this event will be held rain or shine!
ARE KIDS WELCOME? DO THEY NEED A TICKET?
We love kids and kids love street food. Children 8 and under don’t need a ticket. Otherwise, we offer a discount for children 8-12.
I'M A MEMBER OF THE PRESS. HOW DO I GET A PRESS PASS OR ARRANGE INTERVIEWS?
If you would like to request a press pass for the 2016 event, please fill out the Press Pass Request Form.
MY COMPANY WOULD LIKE TO SPONSOR THE VENDY AWARDS. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Drop us a line at email@example.com. Last year's event brought out almost 2,000+ food-savvy guests and attracted wide media attention. We’re pretty sure this year will be even bigger.
Click on the year below to show past winners!
2016 HOST & JUDGES
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 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.
Special Guest Judges for Best Vegan Category
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.
BIG THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS & PARTNERS
Zeina Muna, Garry & Huxley Clark
Business Center for New Americans