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Chefs + Restaurants

Vendy Vidi Vici

Street food gets the red-carpet treatment at an awards ceremony honoring vendors in New York.
vendy awards

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks may have the Oscars®, but Yolanda and Fernando Martinez have the Vendy Cup.

The couple runs the Country Boys/Martinez taco truck at the Red Hook Ball Fields in Brooklyn, and on Saturday their beloved huaraches and quesadillas earned them top honors at the fifth annual Vendy Awards. Held on the lawn of the Queens Museum of Art, the sold-out event featured the best of New York City’s legion of street-food vendors and raised funds for the Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center, a non-profit organization that provides vendors with legal representation and advocacy. A tax-deductible $80 ticket got each of the 600-plus attendees all the food they could eat, plus a say in choosing the winners of the People’s Taste, Dessert Vendor of the Year, and Rookie Vendor of the Year categories.

Vendy-goers also got a bit of the old razzle dazzle. While there were no Harry Winston jewels or interminable Billy Crystal musical numbers, there was still a surprising amount of glamour and pageantry—including gyrating belly dancers and a blaring marching band. Some of the gimmicks were clever (like the mood-setting reggaeton videos that played on an enormous flat-screen television attached to the Jamaican Dutchy cart); others were cutesy (like the workers in the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck rocking out to mind-numbingly catchy ’80s pop songs); and some were even delicious (like Cupcake Stop’s much-hyped Elvis cupcake, topped with bacon).

But unsurprisingly, the most exciting part of the night was when the winners were announced. For the second straight year, Meru Sidker's Biryani Cart took home the People's Taste Award by impressing the attendees with both delicious kati rolls and a relatively fast-moving line. The team from Wafels & Dinges, led by Thomas DeGeest, won the dessert category, while Oleg Voss and Jared Greenhouse from Schnitzel & Things claimed Rookie Vendor of the Year honors. And then the Martinezes—who have been vending for 16 years—took turns hoisting their Silver Vendy Cup in victory as the crowd cheered them on, photographers snapped pictures, and reporters shoved microphones in their faces. Meryl and Tom, eat your hearts out.

Country Boys Red Hook Ball Fields, Clinton and Bay Streets, Brooklyn
Jamaican Dutchy 51st St. and 7th Ave., Manhattan
Rickshaw Dumpling Truck Various locations (rickshawdumplings.com)
Cupcake Stop Various locations (cupcakestop.com; Twitter: @cupcakestop)
Biryani Cart 46th St. and 6th Ave., Manhattan
Wafels & Dinges Various locations (waflesanddinges.com; Twitter: @waffletruck)
Schnitzel & Things Various locations (schnitzelandthings.com; Twitter: @schnitzeltruck)