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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Anticipation Builds Up for this Year's Vendy Awards

                It may be a little early, but here at Foodtoeat we can barely stop talking about the upcoming Vendy Awards. Held on September 24th, The Vendy Awards honor some of New York’s best and most innovative street vendors in an intense cook-off at Governors Island. Finalists in the competition are nominated by everyday people through an online form, and winners are decided in four categories; people’s choice, desserts, rookie of the year and Vendy Cup winner.
                While this competition is only in its sixth year, it’s already spread outside of New York, with the first ever Philadelphia Vendy Awards held earlier this summer. Once the event starts, vendors begin serving up food on Governor’s Islands for guests and judges. The day features a raffle, music, entertainment and plenty of wine and beer. Though an integral part of the experience involves standing in line waiting for food.
                Last year Astoria’s King of Falafel dominated the competition, though every year it seems a different vendor comes out on top. While attendees vote for some of the categories, The Vendy’s esteemed judges decide who wins the grand prize. Proceeds from this event help support the Street Vendor Project, a non-profit organization working for the rights of New York City street vendors. The Street Vendor Project has been actively working to solve the trucks’ legal troubles with the city, and have drafted a petition to allow food trucks to stay in their preferred locations. This organization honors worthy street vendors who have been denied their rights, they rely on donations to continue.
                We may still have some time to wait until the Vendy Awards, but this event is surely not one to be missed. Just think, unlimited food, drinks and entertainment all on an island? Sounds like a vacation to me.
To purchase your tickets to the 2011 Vendy’s click here

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quality Korean Food in a Cart

Bapcha food cart is Korean-style vendor on West 49th Street and Avenue of the Americas. They serve a variety of Korean Barbecued meats, as well as some vegetarian noodle options. Their cart was pricier than I had hoped, but quality Korean food tends to be more expensive than most other New York street food. I ordered a Galbi Box for $8, thin slices of barbecued beef over rice and served with lettuce and egg. The chef drizzled hot sauce over the beef and a sweet type of vinaigrette over the lettuce. The beef was tender and well flavored, and the white rice underneath absorbed a lot of the flavor from the beef. The lettuce was a good choice when paired with the heavy barbecued flavor from the beef, giving the meal a good sense of balance.
The egg portion added an excellent touch of authenticity to the meal, though was blander than I had hoped. The beef easily stole the show, but would have been hard to finish without the other servings. The portion was slightly smaller than I had hoped, with only four or five slices of beef. In the end I was left over with extra rice, but the juices from the beef left it with a savory taste. For $8 I expected more food for the price, but the meal was delicious enough and demonstrated that Bapcha certainly knows it’s Korean food.
To order online from Bapcha click here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eggstravaganza Cart

Eggstravaganza Cart is a savory breakfast oasis open when few other vendors have set out or opened their doors. The small cart features Mexican style breakfast food, and seems permanently parked in midtown, on 52nd street. The vendor is perfectly arranged for early risers, as it opens at 4am and stays until 2:30pm, just after the lunch rush. I tried a steak and egg taco and a western omelette, for $4 and $5.25 respectively. The portions were decent but I would have expected slightly more for the cost. The two orders collectively more than filled me up, but individually one order would not have been enough.
I love salsa with my eggs, and was pleased with the generous portion Eggstravaganza gave me. The salsa was milder than I expected, but accompanied the steak and eggs very well. The tortilla was surprisingly good as well, better than some taco trucks that I have tasted from in the area. Eggstravaganza Cart offers satisfying food in the morning, and opens earlier than the sun rises most days. Though the portions may not be grand, it hits the spot first thing in the morning.
To order from Eggstravaganza Cart, click here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Great Food Truck Race is Kicking Off

The Great Food Truck Race is a welcome departure from the standard food network reality show featuring master chefs and elaborate kitchens. The Great Food Truck Race focuses on ‘gourmet’ food trucks, as they are pitted against each other to sell the most lunches and escape weekly elimination. The show offers unexpected insight into the daily lives of mobile food vendors, and travels with them as they travel from coast to coast selling their often unique signature meals. A large portion of the country is still weary at the thought of eating from food trucks, and something this show does well is advertising the true value of mobile food. The chefs who operate these trucks are often professionally acclaimed, and their food is nothing to look down upon.
                Season 2 premieres August 15th on the Food Network, and will feature eight new trucks from around the country. One of these trucks is New York City’s very own Korilla BBQ, though the vast majority is from California. Hosted by famed restaurateur Chef Tyler Florence, the show will certainly kick up some appetites and raise some awareness for gourmet food trucks. We’ll be back with our very own take on the premiere, come two weeks.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Trucks and Social Media: What to do and What not to do

Social media platforms have recently become the most efficient way for food trucks to advertise to their customers. Twitter in particular allows food trucks to update their locations in real time, and develop a close group of devoted followers who will receive daily news and menu updates from the truck. Most trucks have begun to capitalize on Twitter already, yet there are certain rules to abide by when marketing through Twitter. In order to get the most out of their social media experience, I recommend that food trucks take the following steps in getting the most out of their tweets.
Twitter is an open exchange between people, not a one-way microphone to advertise yourself. Followers will become disengaged if you do not acknowledge them as well. This means food trucks should become actively engaged in their communities, responding to their followers and recognizing their peers to build a fully interactive experience. Generosity goes a long way on Twitter, promote others just as you would have them promote you and you will be sure to build up your credibility. Acting as a useful conduit for information will gain the trust of your followers, and eventually they will retweet your information and expose you to even more followers.
Displaying your personality through social media is also an important way to gain a following. Social media users do not just want to see a company drone, but would rather follow someone with a sense of humor, or a relatable personality. Make your tweets memorable and insightful, these will go a much longer way than humorless, informative tweets. None of these skills can be learned overnight, and it takes time to develop a loyal following. However through content-rich tweets that abide by the 140 character limit, food vendors can turn an ordinary tweet into an extraordinary one and make all the difference in their marketing technique.