9/17/2012 09:33:00 AM
The View from the Vendys: Piaztlan Mexican, Melt Bakery Are Big Winners
The Eighth annual Vendy Awards honored the city’s top street eats while supporting the Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center, a nonprofit that advocates for street vendor rights. 24 vendors cheerfully served from all manner of cart, truck and stand, while bands played blues, bluegrass, country and reggae. There was ample dancing room; but more importantly, not a bad bite to be found.
The esteemed panel of judges, which included Food & Wine’s Kate Krader, BaoHaus’s Eddie Huang and art rap folk trio Das Racist, awarded the prized Vendy Cup to PiaztlanBK Authentic Mexican food for their homespun tacos. Owner Eleazar Perez started as a street vendor in her Puebla, Mexico hometown when she was 9 years old. Today, she runs the truck with her three children and has been a fixture at the Red Hook ballfields since 1989.
The other champs: Melt Bakery, Best Dessert for their ice cream sandwiches; Lumpia Shack, the Market award for their Filipino greenmarket-driven spring rolls; Phil’s Steak cheesesteaks for Rookie of the Year; and the vegan cuisine at The Cinnamon Snail for People’s Choice. Our favorite nod, however, went to “Most Heroic” vendor Sammy Kassem, who has staunchly stood up to harassment at his Halal cart in Bay Ridge, refusing to surrender to the bully tactics from neighboring chains.
Most Underrated Newcomer: Morocho Peruvian fusion, for expert spicing in their “lomo salteado” tacos and “aji gallina.”
Best Presentation: Pestle & Mortar for their artful display of shrimp and lobster heads.
Best Copywriting: Monsieur Singh lassi drinks and pops-- “Endorsed daily by a billion Indians. Don’t believe us? Call a random Indian and ask them why they love the lassi. +91 11 XXXX XXXX (choose your number).”
Most Clever Dish Names: Tortas Nezas, who christened each sandwich after a Mexican soccer team.
Longest line: Okadaman, for its careful, made-to-order crafting of okonomiyaki, yakisoba and kara age.
Most Grateful for the Nomination: Coolhaus, who gushed via this sign: “Dear Ladies and Germs of Ye Awards o’ Vendy, We’d like to thank the academy, our agent, queen Meryl Streep, our fans, Michelle Obama, the Yankees, Justin Bieber and loving friends.” Perhaps it was their boozy Bushmills ice cream that brought on the emotion?
Old Timer Award: Uncle Gussy’s, a Greek vendor in business for 41 years.
Best Business Card: La Bella Torte, who promotes their signature dessert via this classic quote - “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”
Hottest Chicks: Earth Matter for putting together a coop of cute cluckers, who snacked on scraps to promoting composting.
Best Show: Chinese Mirch, who celebrated Lunar New Year months early by bringing out the drums, cymbals and acrobats for a lion dance. War Horse could learn a few tricks from the dazzling puppeteers behind their fuzzy, purple beast.
For more details on the Vendys, and to support the Street Vendor Project, visit www.streetvendor.org