The results are in, and NYC has crowned 2014’s top street chef. More than 2,500 foodies flocked to Governors Island to cast their votes at the 10th annual Vendy Awards, where Cinnamon Snail took home the top prize: the coveted Vendy Cup.
The winners in all seven categories were:
The Vendy Cup: Cinnamon Snail
- Masters Cup: Calexico Best Dessert: Ice & Vice Best Market Vendor: Zha Pan
- Rookie of the Year: Snowday
- People’s Taste Award: Nuchas.
The 2014 recipient of the Heroic Vendor Award was Baare Batchiri, who was also the first non-food vendor to receive the honor. Batchiri’s story made headlines in June when a homeless man stabbed him in the chest while he was working at his stand. Despite his extensive injuries, Batchiri was courageous enough to chase after the perpetrator into the subway and point him out to police. Since the incident, he has still managed to keep his generous and friendly nature, even toward the mentally ill man who almost killed him. Batchiri emigrated to the U.S. 10 years ago from Niger, and supports his family back home by selling cell-phone cases and appliances in SoHo.
“The street food scene has transformed food culture in New York – and around the country – over the past decade. We at the Vendys are so proud to have celebrated this reflection of our rich culinary diversity since 2005 when we started in an East Village garage with four vendors. We’ve come a long way!” said Sean Basinski, Director, Street Vendor Project.
For the first time ever in the 10-year history of the street food competition, past winners battled it out in a special Master’s Cup showdown at the Vendy Awards last month Governors Island.
The Middle Eastern cart King of Falafel might be the only winner of two coveted Vendy awards in the same year — but this time, their competition was a lot tougher.
Facing off against the King of Falafel was four other Vendy victors: Hallo Berlin, NY Dosas, Calexico, and Solber Pupusas.
“The Master’s Cup should be a great way to recognize how far the Vendy awards have come and where street food has come in the last 10 years,” said Basinski.
Since its start a decade ago, the Vendys have expanded to events in other cities including Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles. “Ten years ago, there really were no fancy food trucks across the country,”
Basinski says. “The Vendys provided inspiration to a lot of people and really started a trend.”
All five competing carts and trucks in the Master’s Cup have won a Vendy Cup – awarded for best street food as judged by a panel of chefs, foodie TV personalities and executives in a prior year. King of Falafel has the distinct honor of having won both a Vendy Cup, and a People’s Choice award (voted by event attendees) in 2010.
The panel of judges featured an all-star cast:
Chef Alex Guarnaschelli: Food Network and Cooking Channel Personality, Florent Morellet: Former owner of the beloved eponymous NYC French diner Florent, Adam Richman: Food Expert; Host of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food, Alicia Quarles: E! News Correspondent, Sarah Simmons: Chef/Owner of City Grit, A Culinary Salon, Maria Torres-Springer: Commissioner of NYC’s Department of Small Business Services
Citizen Judge Hannah Lyter: Lyter was the winner of this year’s Citizen Judge competition. Hannah blogs about fashion and photography, and roams the city in search of the best food finds.
The Vendy Awards, the first and largest street food event series in the country, is an annual event to benefit the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, a membership-based organization that provides advocacy and legal services for more than 1,800 vendor members. The Vendys, which have been New York City’s most beloved street food competition for 10 years, has expanded nationally to include events in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Chicago.
The Street Vendor Project is a membership-based project with more than 1,800 active vendor members who are working together to create a vendors’ movement for permanent change. The Street Vendor Project is part of the Urban Justice Center, a non-profit organization that provides legal representation and advocacy to various marginalized groups of New Yorkers.