Calexico, Soho's (and now Park Ave.'s) wildly popular burrito and quesadilla truck beat out four other savory carts to take home the top award at this year's Vendy Awards, the annual celebration of the best of New York City street food, this Saturday. Kwik Meal, Midtown's halal chicken truck run by a former sous chef at the Russian Tea Room grabbed the runner-up spot, and Biryani, a Midtown Indian cart, took home the people's choice. Meanwhile the Treats Truck defeated the Dessert Truck and Van Leeuwen ice cream for the dessert title (with Wafels + Dinges noticeably absent). Beyond the results, a little color from the event:
The Vendys are principally a fundraiser for the non-profit Street Vendor Project, and Project director and event organizer Sean Basinski emphasized that the event wasn't just to highlight the culinary achievements of a distinguished few.
Many of the judges (Calvin Trillin for one) were tight-lipped about their votes. Trillin did, however, muse on the emerging potential of street vendors: "They might have all the investment bankers eating there now," he said. "A lot of those guys in red suspenders at fancy restaurants—soon they'll be eating at carts." Meanwhile fellow judge and competitive eater Tim Janus noted his favorite Calexico, was just as good as something "you'd spend $20 on at a fancy restaurant." (Update: Janus emails to note that he liked Calexico, but he preferred and voted for Fauzia's cart.)
Ben Van Leeuwen of Van Leeuwen ice cream discussed the conundrum of what to do with an ice cream truck in the winter. "We have two options," he said. "Our hot chocolate is selling well, and it's possible we'll start selling hot cider. We're also considering moving the cart out to California...there's no good ice cream in LA."
The event ended with Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show, delivering a zinger: "We technically have been today to more countries than Sarah Palin," Winstead said.
— Reporting by Paul Caine
· Special Vendy Awards Contest: Street Eat Strange Treats! [~E~]