Almost a ‘Flea’ sweep at the Vendy Awards

Photos by Helen Klein, Denise Romano and Heather J. Chin

Thousands ate their way through Industry City on Saturday, September 7 for the 9th Annual NYC Vendy Awards—the Oscars of the food vendor world—which was held this year in Brooklyn for the very first time.

The big winner of the day was Brooklyn/Red Hook’s El Olomega and owners Janet and Marcos Lainez, whose traditional, homemade pupusas took home the Vendy Cup—keeping it in the Red Hook Food Vendor family after Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food won it last year.

Luke’s Lobster’s classic Maine-style lobster rolls and lobster-and-cheese sandwiches won over the crowd, garnering them the People’s Taste Award.

Best Dessert went to Elmhurst-based Itizy Ice Cream Truck and their delicious homemade concoctions in refreshingly creative, yet simple flavors such as Blueberry Mojito, Mint Stracciatella and Coffee Brownie—all of which goes to promote founders Kenneth Chen and Ann Yu’s social mission of feeding those in need through supporting Scoop For Meals.

Best Market Vendor went to Queens-based Khao Man Gai NY for their exhaustively researched and carefully prepared authentic Thai chicken-and-rice dish that owners Eric and Emorn Henshaw said is their way of sharing their favorite dish with New Yorkers.

Best of New Jersey went to local/organic-focused Home By The Range, which also won the Messy But Tasty Award.

Rookie of the Year went to Midtown-based Nuchas, whose Argentinian-style savory and sweet empanadas and homemade sauces impressed eaters and judges alike.

Judges included Clarkson Potter editor-at-large Francis Lam, Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver, Food Network Star ( Season 8 ) Justin Warner , meat guru Pat LaFrieda and Every Day with Rachael Ray editor-in-chief Lauren Purcell.

If you haven’t already hit up the kitchens of these Vendy Award winners, don’t worry: several winners—as well as many of the finalists—can be found on weekends through October at the LIC Flea & Food. Luke’s Lobster, Itizy Ice Cream and Khao Man Gai are all popular vendors, as are other Queens stalwarts Cholita Cuencana, Pop It Baby and King Souvlaki.

“LIC Flea has been an amazing experience and we are lucky enough to be a part of it,” enthused Khao Man Gai’s Eric Henshaw.

PopItBaby’s Jackie Walsh agreed, noting that the market has enabled her to “get our brand out to sweet people [every weekend].”

At the 9th Annual NYC Vendy Awards, Luke’s Lobster’s classic Maine-style lobster rolls and lobster-and-cheese sandwiches won the People’s Taste Award.

Best Market Vendor went to Khao Man Gai NY  for their exhaustively researched and carefully prepared authentic Thai chicken-and-rice dish.

Pop It Baby was also at the event.