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Mobile Food Champs Compete For Master's Cup Title At This Year's Vendy Awards

<br/><br/>The <a href="http://www.vendyawards.streetvendor.org/">Vendy Awards</a> celebrate 10 years as the "Oscars of Street Food" this month, championing the best of food trucks, market vendors and mobile food purveyors in the city. On September 13th, dozens of vendors will descend on Governors Island for a day of feasting—and judgement. <br/><br/>Each year, vendors are <a href="http://gothamist.com/2013/09/08/vendys.php#photo-30">crowned in categories</a> including Rookie of the Year, People's Choice and the coveted Vendy Cup. This year, a special Master's Cup category has been added to pit past Vendy Cup winners against one another to see who can reclaim their glory.<br/><br/>The special category includes the original Vendy winner <a href="http://www.halloberlinrestaurant.com/">Hallo Berlin</a> to Village staple <a href="https://twitter.com/nydosas">NY Dosas</a> to hip Mexican cart <a href="http://calexico.net/">Calexico</a> and other vendors who've won along the way. In advance of their big return to the Vendy stage, we chatted with each vendor about where they came from, where they are now and what it means to be crowned one of the city's most popular mobile food purveyor.<br/><br/><em>Tickets to this year's Vendy Awards can be <a href="http://www.vendyawards.streetvendor.org/newyorkcity/">purchased here</a>.</em>

(Clay Williams/Gothamist)

<br/><br/><strong><a href="http://www.halloberlinrestaurant.com/index.html">HALLO BERLIN</a></strong><br/><br/><li><strong>Founders:</strong> Rolf and Bernadette Babiel</li><li><strong>First opened:</strong> The business started in 1981 when Rolf immigrated to the United States.</li><li><strong>Vendy Winners:</strong> 2005</li><li><strong>How many staffers/carts did you start with and how many do you operate now?</strong> Rolf operated the cart independently for nearly 25 years, ultimately bringing aboard his wife Bernadette. When Rolf passed away in 2009, his brother Wolfgang and his sons Peter and Alex came on board to help. The family currently runs restaurants in Hell's Kitchen and Conklin, NY in addition to the pushcart.</li><li><strong>What's been the biggest change since you won the Vendy Award?</strong> After winning the Vendy award, Rolf was interviewed by news outlets both domestically and abroad in Germany, Japan and China.</li><li><strong>Which dish(es) will you serve at this year's Vendy Awards?</strong> Pork Bratwurst with German potatoes.</li><li><strong>How do you feel about your chances of winning the Master's Cup this year?</strong> "I'm pretty sure we can win," son Peter Babiel <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/vendy-award-winners-battle-master-cup-article-1.1903956">told the Daily News</a>. "It's simple food, but people like that."</li><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857903" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314berlin1.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314berlin1.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857904" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314berlin2.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314berlin2.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form>

(Clay Williams/Gothamist)

<br/><br/><strong><a href="https://twitter.com/nydosas">NY DOSAS</a></strong><br/><br/><li><strong>Founder:</strong> Thiru Kumar</li><li><strong>First opened:</strong> December 2001</li><li><strong>Vendy winners:</strong> 2007</li><li><strong>What's been the biggest chance since you won the Vendy Award?</strong> The biggest change has been the increased media recognition along with a variety of new customers who regularly mention that they heard that I won the Vendy's, which always makes me feel proud. </li><li><strong>Most popular dish:</strong> My most popular dish is the Special Pondicherry Masala Dosa, which is a crepe made out of rice and lentil filled with fresh vegetables and curry potato, served with coconut chutney and sambar (lentil soup). This dish is wheat free and gluten free.</li><li><strong>Which dish(es) will you serve at this year's Vendy Awards?</strong> I will be serving the same dishes that I served when I won the Vendy in 2007, slices of my famous Special Pondicherry Masala Dosa, slices of mini Jaffna Dosa (herbal pancake, naturally fermented; wheat free &amp; gluten free). I will also be serving some appetizers. </li><li><strong>How do you feel about your chances of winning the Master's Cup this year?</strong> It's a great honor to be participating again at the Vendy's for their 10th annual awards. I will be happy regardless of whether I win or lose. I am happy to be representing the vegans and vegetarians all around the world and I hope I can make them proud! </li><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857911" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314dosas1.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314dosas1.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857912" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314dosas2.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314dosas2.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form>

(Clay Williams/Gothamist)


<br/><br/><strong><a href="http://calexico.net/">CALEXICO</a></strong><br/><br/><li><strong>Founders:</strong> Brothers Dave and Jesse Vendley</li><li><strong>First opened:</strong> 2006</li><li><strong>Vendy winners:</strong> 2008</li><li><strong>How many staffers/carts did you start with and how many do you operate now?</strong> We had one cart for the first two years or so and expanded to two carts after winning the Vendys. We now have 4 restaurants, 3 carts, and stands in the Barclays Arena.</li><li><strong>What's been the biggest change since you won the Vendy Award?</strong> Our biggest change has been moving to brick and mortar locations. It has been a new challenge and very rewarding. We still consider ourselves a street cart brand with some restaurants and not the other way around.</li><li><strong>What's your most popular dish?</strong> Our newly introduced Baja Fish Taco is our most popular dish now. </li><li><strong>Which dish(es) will you serve at this year's Vendy Awards?</strong> We are serving our Baja Fish Taco, our Chipotle Pork Rolled Quesadilla, and Homemade plantain chips with salsas.</li><li><strong>How do you feel about your chances of winning the Master's Cup this year?</strong> Winning the Vendys was one of our proudest moments and most difficult challenges. I imagine this year will be no different if we are lucky enough win, but every vendor competing is amazing and I won't be surprised by any outcome.</li><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857906" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314calexico1.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314calexico1.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857908" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314calexico2.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314calexico2.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form>

(Clay Williams/Gothamist)

<br/><br/><strong><a href="http://www.thekingfalafel.com/">KING OF FALAFEL</a></strong><br/><br/><li><strong>Founder:</strong> Fares "Freddy" Zeideia</li><li><strong>First opened:</strong> April 2002</li><li><strong>Vendy winners:</strong> 2010</li><li><strong>How many staffers/carts did you start with and how many do you operate now?</strong> We started with one cart, 2 people, me and my partner. Now, we're at 3 locations with 8 employees.</li><li><strong>What's been the biggest change since you won the Vendy Award?</strong> The biggest change since winning the Vendy Award was more business, more recognition, the food is safer to eat. Since I was self proclaimed the "King of Falafel" before winning, winning made it official</li><li><strong>Most popular dish:</strong> Our most popular dishes are the shawarma and falafel sandwiches. Then comes the chicken and rice platters as our number one seller.</li><li><strong>Which dish(es) will you serve at this year's Vendy Awards?</strong> We will be serving the chicken and rice platter, chicken &amp; beef shawarma and falafel sandwiches.</li><li><strong>How do you feel about your chances of winning the Master's Cup this year?</strong> I feel pretty confident about winning the Master's Cup this year, the guys that are trying to dethrone the king...well they're up for a big surprise.</li><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857915" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314falafel1.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314falafel1.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857916" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314falafel2.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314falafel2.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form>

(Clay Williams/Gothamist)

<br/><br/><strong><a href="http://solberpupusas.com/">SOLBER PUPUSAS</a></strong><br/><br/><li><strong>Founders:</strong> Rafael &amp; Reina Soler-Bermudez</li><li><strong>First opened:</strong> 1999</li><li><strong>Vendy winners:</strong> 2011</li><li><strong>How many staffers/carts did you start with and how many do you operate now?</strong> It was an old food truck, some tables, some tents, some second hand cooking apparatus. We began at the Red Hook Ball Fields, it was simpler times. But simpler doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad, in fact, that's where the name and popularity began to take hold. It was just Reina and Rafael, simply family (including Reina's son Cesar), and from there they got their first food truck in 2006. Now we're incorporated, employ around 15 people and can be additionally found at all iterations of the Brooklyn Flea plus a catering option. </li><li><strong>What's been the biggest change since you won the Vendy Award?</strong> From where they began as a humble food stand to where we are now as an established business with an identity...some publications have branded the food truck one of the best in the world, which is amazing. Very soon, hopefully they'll be appearing in a major supermarket chain, it's a very well recognized supermarket chain in New York City, it's very healthy. It's going to be manufactured, offered pretty much in a deli-type style. It may not have the Solber brand, but when you see it, you know where it comes from.</li><li><strong>Most popular dish:</strong> Interestingly enough, we're very well known for tamales as well as pupusas, it depends on the market we go to. We do our traditional pupusa platter, which could be considered our most popular dish; they come with sides, if you will, pickled cabbage, pickled jalapenos, onions and our own homemade tomato sauce and our own cream sauce.</li><li><strong>Which dish(es) will you serve at this year's Vendy Awards?</strong> Probably more than likely we want to feature a sampler platter so people can sample different types. Most likely vegetarian and meat pupusas and also one of our tamale platters as well, probably our bean tamale. </li><li><strong>How do you feel about your chances of winning the Master's Cup this year?</strong> It's a tough question! As you know, we're up against the best of the best. The Master's Cup is about popularity as well as flavor; popularity is in the eye of the beholder. It has been proven through the match against winning best the Vendy Award and the People's Choice; only one person has done that. We don't like to brag too much about what our chances are. We're going to go and have fun and do our best presentations; we're already champions. </li><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857900" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314solber2.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314solber2.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form><br/><br/><form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-image" mt:asset-id="857901" style="display: inline;"> <div class="image-none"> <img alt="090314solber1.jpg" height="427" src="http://gothamist.com/attachments/nyc_nellcasey/090314solber1.jpg" width="640"/> <br/> <i> <span class="photo_caption">(<a href="http://claywilliams.photoshelter.com/">Clay Williams</a>/Gothamist)</span></i></div> </form>

(Clay Williams/Gothamist)