At the Vendy Awards, the winners are those who come hungry

Line up for the Vendy Awards.  Credit: Imagic Digital Line up for the Vendy Awards.
Credit: Imagic Digital

Food trucks, which used to be synonymous with rushed, quickie meals, have recently been given more time and consideration. They’re no longer just the reliable carts we swing by for an on-the-go breakfast sandwich or a greasy lunch between meetings — lately Philly’s curbside kitchens are getting as much recognition for their culinary mastery as they are for their mobility.

The Vendy Awards, organized by the Street Vendor Project, started in New York nine years ago and made their way to our town in 2011. “The event is an opportunity for us to shine a light on street vendors,” says Helena Tubis, managing director of the Vendy Awards. “It’s often an overlooked workforce, but there are credible culinary talents and this is a chance to hear their story and celebrate them.”

Eighteen mobile kitchens have been nominated for an award. This Saturday, six sweet trucks and twelve savory ones will rev their engines and flex their spatulas at Penn Treaty in a mouth-watering competition to be crowned the king of the road food. Among the nominees are The Cow and the Curd, a cart that speaks to our souls with promises of melty, crunchy, saucy delights.

Though the cart has only been on the streets since January, you may have heard plenty about The Cow and the Curd. “We wanted to be the cheese curd people,” says owner Rob Mitchell. And they’ve cornered the market, with Midwestern-style gooey fried cheese curds and spicy, smoky dipping sauces. It’s no surprise that the curds caught the eye of Vendy organizers. “It’s very flattering and humbling to be nominated,” says Mitchell. “The Vendy is a really respected award to receive.”

Along with the classic white and yellow curds, Mitchell and company will be slinging their “farmer’s garden” cheddar cheese with sundried tomatoes, chipotle, basil and garlic. Let’s hear it for the curds.

And save some room for dessert because the reigning sweet-side champs, Lil Pop Shop, are returning this year. “It’s an honor to be nominated again and we are super excited to be participating in this event,” says owner Jeanne Chang.“We’re excited about not only competing, but the event itself is super fun. I love being surrounded by food enthusiasts and seeing everyone enjoy great food.”

If you go

3rd Annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards

June 8, 2-6 p.m.

Penn Treaty Park

1341 N. Delaware Ave.

$35-$55 (includes food and beer)

Proceeds benefit The Food Trust

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