Looking back on 2015, I can truly say that there were several food-related highlights, with one of the most memorable being the Vendy Awards that I attended last September. I was lucky enough to have snagged a pair of tickets as part of the #VendyCitizenJudge Contest and couldn’t wait until I boarded that ferry to Governors Island to stuff myself silly with as much yummy food as I could handle.
I was most excited to finally be able to try food from food trucks that I’d heard so much about before, but never had the opportunity to visit. I also knew that the food would be good being that I got just a little taste at the Vendy Plaza that took place in East Harlem leading up to the big day.
It definitely was hard to decide what to try first, but with the handy little map that we were given and my ‘let’s try a little bit of everything’ approach, my mom and I were able to sample a nice array of treats before our stomachs officially said ‘no more!’
One piece of advice I’ll give to anyone attending an event such as this is arrive early!! You’ll beat the lines and get first dibs on everything. Win-win!
The longest line that I encountered was definitely for the newcomer, Coney Shack, a truck that dishes out tacos with a South East Asian spin, with flavors that included Vietnamese Beef Shortrib, Five Spice Calamari, and Beer Battered Crunchy Fish (I tried one of each, of course).
We made our way to as many booths as we could, sampling chewy beignets covered in powdered sugar and caramel sauce from Booqoo Beignets, S’mores pie from Butter & Scotch, juicy, flavorful hamburgers that I’m still dreaming about from Hard Times Sundaes, Thai Chili Lemonade from Renegade Lemonade (also the winner of the Best Street Drink Award), squishy Squishmarsh marshmallows, and so much more.
One thing that’s super cool about this event was just the sheer amount diversity represented. With vendors cooking food from all over the world, the variety was endless. There was also an immense sense of camaraderie amongst these vendors, despite the fact that they were essentially competing against one another, most likely brought about by their common understanding of just how difficult starting and running a food truck can be.
Overall, six awards were given out, with Home Frite winning Best Market Vendor, Doughnuttery taking home Best Dessert, and the social justice food truck, Snowday winning both the People’s Choice and the top prize Vendy Award!
Snowday’s mission is to not only serve delicious food, like the maple grilled cheese that they made, but also to raise funds and awareness for their Drive Change nonprofit, whose motto is “Turn Red Lights Green.” They hire and train formally incarcerated youth through six to eight month Fellowships with the goal of either helping them land employment or continue on with their education.
In a world where so many people would turn their backs on individuals such as this, it is so admirable what they are doing to make a difference, and I definitely believe their awards were justly won. So a definite congrats to them and all of the other winners!
The Vendy’s were unlike any other food event that I’ve attended before and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have gone. Do I hope to attend this year’s awards? Hell yeah! But until then, the memories of marshmallows and hamburgers and tacos will have to satiate my ever-growing appetite for now 😉