Corona cart vendor nominated for culinary prize

Corona cart vendor nominated for culinary prize
Photo by Caroll Alvarado
By Caroll Alvarado

For the past 26 years, Maria Teresa Crespo has been dishing up Ecuadorian specialities from a street corner in Corona, and she was recently recognized for her tasty treats as part of an annual food truck competition.

La Cholita Cuencana, Crespo’s cart which occupies the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Junction Boulevard six days per week, has become a staple in the neighborhood’s Hispanic community and stands to become the first Ecuadorian truck to take home a NYC Vendy cup in the dessert category. Crespo’s take on the traditional Ecuadorian dish, espumilla, was selected as a finalist for a Vendy award, which she will compete for next month, even though she has only been making it for three years.

The mousse-like dessert made of egg whites, sugar and fruit and then blended using a mixer, is only made by Crespo during the winter and fall. Her first attempt at making espumilla came about three years ago, when a friend from Ecuador taught her how to make it. Since then Crespo’s interest in making the treat has taken off and has become a staple part of Crespo’s Food Cart menu.

“People come up to me and no longer order espumilla on a cone. They now come to me with trays and order trays of espumilla to take back home to their families,“ Crespo said in Spanish.

“They buy it in all flavors, blackberry and guava and some even like the flavors mixed” she said.

Last week, customers lined up on the side of the cart raved about the dessert.

“The best part about her espumilla is that it’s not too sweet and tastes perfect,” said Ridgewood resident Mery Sarmiento,

But desserts aren’t all Crespo is known for.

She is also the former president of the association of street vendors known as the “Vendedoras Ambulantes de la Roosevelt.”

And Crespo’s charm has gained her the respect and love of the neighborhood, her customers said. She has been recognized as a leader in her community for her work to combat discrimination against immigrant street vendors and was honored by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who once invited her to lunch.

Crespo’s food truck has also been added to a variety of food tours in the city.

At the Sept. 7 award ceremony in Brooklyn’s Industrial City, Crespo’s creations will be up against other desserts like Carpe Donut’s, Organic Apple Cider Donuts and Del’s Frozen Lemonade.

There her espumilla will have the chance to be crowned New York City’s best sweet on the street.