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The 11th Annual Vendy Awards, dubbed “the Oscars of street food” by none other than Mario Batali, took place on Governors Island on Sunday. The street food competition, which has spread to other cities such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles, showcases the results of a revolutionary movement that’s taken us from stale pretzels to organic tacos in a little under a decade.
For this year’s sellout ceremony, more than 2,000 people gathered to sample dishes from 25 food trucks. “We’re proud to bring together a diverse community of street food makers,” organizer and director Sean Basinski tells the Voice. “They make New York a more vibrant and delicious place every day.”
Smorgasburg stalwart Home Frite’s signature crispy fries won the Best Market Vendor prize. Renegade Lemonade took home Best Street Drink. Doughnuttery’s snack-size doughnuts nabbed them Best Dessert (surely the Paris Time lavender-pistachio-vanilla variety had something to do with that), and Lawrence Mach’s Southeast Asian–inspired Coney Shack Tacos claimed Rookie of the Year.
But the standout victors of the day, winning both the People’s Choice and the Vendy Cup, were farm-to-truck specialists Snowday, with their crowd-pleasing maple grilled cheese sandwiches and smoked pork ribs. It was a win not only for the comforting “Gourmet Lumberjack” fare but also for social enterprise: The trucks are run by Drive Change, a nonprofit that offers training and employment to young people coming home from jail and prison.
“I was a teacher at Rikers Island for three years,” founder Jordyn Lexton says, “so I saw firsthand the need to broaden opportunities for these young people. Every member of our team is trained and involved in every aspect of running our food truck, from sourcing the ingredients from local farms to menu development to prepping the food and selling it. We’re connecting communities through food, so to win these awards — especially People’s Choice — is unbelievable. We’re so happy. The whole team is just blown away!”
Learn more about Drive Change at DriveChangeNYC.org and on Twitter @snowdaytruck.