October 06, 2017
by Yanki Tshering
The Vendys - aka "the Oscars of street food" - is an event the BCNA team looks forward to each year, not just for the delicious food, exciting competition, and beautiful day on Governor's Island, but also because it gives us a chance to see how lives change when hardworking entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to succeed.
Since its inaugural year in 2005, the Vendy Awards has grown from one small event in a garage space in the East Village to an annual outdoor destination event thronged by thousands of New York foodies, critics, and civic leaders alike, and has spread to include events for hardworking street vendors and food trucks in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago as well.
This year's New York categories – and winners - included Best Rookie Vendor (Momo Delight), Best Market Vendor (What's the Dillaz), Best Desert Vendor (Dulcinea Churros), the 2017 People's Choice Winner (Adel's No. 1), the grand Vendy Cup 2017 winner (DF Nigerian, run by Godshelter Oluwalogbon and his wife Bisola), and a new category – and crowd favorite -"The Bad Hombres" (El Toro Rojo). Winners were chosen by a combination of popular vote, as well as a panel of celebrity judges that this year included Public Defender Letitia James and Speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, a great supporter of street vendors and a tireless advocate for lifting the caps on vendor permits.
The Vendys are the brainchild of Sean Basinski and his team at the Street Vendor Project, a membership-based non-profit organization that advocates for vendors' rights while providing legal and small-business services to them. SVP is currently campaigning to get the city to remove the cap on food vending permits that has created huge barriers for vendors since it was enacted, at the urging of big businesses, in 1983.
BCNA has had the pleasure of working closely with SVP for the past seven years to provide services that support the effort of street vendors to strengthen and grow their businesses. In partnership with SVP, we created the Pushcart Fund which makes small loans available to street vendors who risk losing their permit if they fall behind in payments for fines for minor infractions, such as covering their vendor license under their coat in the winter or placing their cart an inch closer to the curb than regulations permit. Through the Pushcart Fund, we have provided $54,900 in loans to street vendors since 2011.
Congratulations to all of this year's hardworking, talented winners and finalists!
And please join us next year at what Saveur Magazine calls "The red carpet gala for New York's pushcart heroes."
The BCNA Team at the 2017 Vendys
Photo credits © Clay Williams http://claywilliamsphoto.com/