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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Week 6 of The Great Food Truck Race

After last week’s controversial elimination of Korilla BBQ, the three remaining trucks (Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, Hodge Podge and Lime Truck) headed to Atlanta, Georgia, where the pressure was greater than ever before. Host Tyler Florence immediately amped up the tension, introducing each remaining truck and then referring to Hodge Podge as “just plain lucky to be there” after making the least sales last week.
At the Truck Stop challenge the teams were tasked with creating a signature dish with peanuts and peaches, traditional favorite from Georgia. The dishes were judged by Atlanta restaurateur Kevin Rathbun and Roxy’s was chosen as the winner of the challenge, presented with a ‘golden peach’ worth $1,000 at the end of the challenge. As the elimination challenge kicked off, Hodge Podge immediately secured a great spot at Atlantic Station, experiencing their best day yet. Roxy’s first location was too quiet, so they relocated to midtown. Lime set up outside an office building facing two crowded intersections, but decided to find a new location are slow sales. They finally got in touch with Atlantic Station and were offered Hodge Podge’s spot for the next day. They eventually returned to their previous location, and Roxy’s experienced a surge in sales later in the day.
                The next day’s Speed Bump called for the head chefs to be sent off the trucks for a full day of pampering and relaxation. Lime Truck considered this a huge advantage, being the only team with two chefs, and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese felt confident. The two ladies of Hodge Podge however were shaken up by the change but decided to keep their menu simple with fried chicken, pulled pork and fish tacos. Roxy’s had solid sales all day, and Hodge Podge decided to do what Lime Truck does best, and poached some customer’s off them, though their sales weren’t great anyway. Finally the head chefs returned to their trucks to finish out their day.
At the end of the day Hodge Podge won their first ever challenge, pulling in nearly $9,000. Even with Roxy’s $1,000 head start they still could not beat Lime Truck’s sales, and were sent back to Boston. Next week the two final trucks face off in the finale, and from what we’ve seen in the preview, it looks to be epic.

The Vendy Awards Announces Rookie of the Year Finalists

Last week the Rookie Finalists were announced for the NYC 2011 Vendy Awards. The six trucks cover a broad range of tastes, and the full list includes Korilla BBQ, Eddie’s Pizza Truck, Taim Mobile-Falafel & Smoothie Truck, Comme Ci Comme Ca, Eat Here Now Now Eat Here, and Sunrise Grill.
Korilla BBQ has received its fair share of press recently since being featured on the second season of The Great Food Truck Race. Developing a similar model to that of the famous Kogi BBQ in Los Angeles, Korilla was founded by Columbia University graduates looking for a less conventional career path. Their Korean BBQ tacos have become renowned in New York City, with a loyal customer base going to all ends to get their Korean BBQ fix.

Eddie’s Pizza Truck specializes in thin crust pizza and has transformed it into a standard New York street food. The truck was founded by two brothers with a lifelong dream of opening a food truck. Finally they partnered with New Hyde Park’s Eddie’s Pizza to bring the restaurant to NYC. Eddie’s Pizza Truck can be found throughout Manhattan and in the new food truck lot in Long Island City.

Taim Mobile offers a fresh take on traditional Middle Eastern street food. With outstanding sauces, vegetarian options and fresh smoothies, Taim is street food you can feel good about eating. The multicultural team speaks a wide variety of languages, and uses the freshest ingredients in their food, providing great service and food that’s good on all fronts.

Comme Ci Comme Ca is a Mediterranean/Moroccan specialty truck with a wide variety of food that most people can agree on. The truck’s owner Samir began cooking when he first came to this country to avoid eating out every night. Eventually he developed a passion for it and started his own truck. Specializing in a fluffy cous cous, the food is deliciously spiced with juicy meats and savory vegetables.

Eat Here Now Now Eat Here serves tacos and burritos with an Asian twist, and offers a breakfast burrito served all day. These vendors are known for their delicious tortillas, and serve food with a purpose behind it. Truck owner Stan Tankursley spent winters in the Dominican Republic and was deeply affected the earthquake in Haiti. He raised over $10,000 in just a few days for earthquake relief and travelled there to help immediately.
The final contender for the rookie category is the new Jamaican Sunrise Grill Truck. This truck offers real, authentic Jamaican food including oxtails, jerked chicken, curry goat and saltfish. The food can be as spicy as you would like, prepared homemade and seasoned with real island spices.

The six trucks will be featured on September 24th on Governor’s Island in the much anticipated 7th Annual Vendy Awards.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Best of Jersey Vendy Award Finalists Announced

The finalists for the Best of Jersey category in the upcoming 2011 Vendy Awards were recently announced. The three finalists are the Cinnamon Snail, Two Pitas in a Pod, and the Taco Truck.
The Cinnamon Snail is an organic vegan truck, offering breakfast and lunch and dessert pastries as well. The truck can usually be found in Hoboken, nearby the train station and has a special brunch menu available Thursday through Sunday. The Cinnamon Snail was chosen because of their unique, creative and ethical food. The owners of the truck are friendly and outgoing, and change their menu seasonally and often update with daily specials.

Two Pitas in a Pod serves Mediterranean food and fusion specials from around the world. The truck can be seen around Hoboken, Jersey City and Newark, and has received a lot of press recently as one of New Jersey’s most renowned food trucks. A lot of the truck’s popularity has stemmed from the friendly, humorous owners of the truck, who provide excellent, timely service. Of course the food is excellent as well, all the sauces are homemade, and the owners grind the meats themselves, taking a great deal of pride in their truck.

The last New Jersey finalist, the Taco Truck, also travels throughout Hoboken, Newark and Jersey City serving authentic Mexican street food. The Truck makes uses locally grown, organic products whenever possible, and constantly creates unique new tacos for its lunch and dinner menus. Their al pastor taco is a fan favorite, and they accept online orders as well. The Taco Truck takes sustainability very seriously as well, and composts and recycles all of their leftover food and packaging.

These three trucks will all be present alongside the finalists from other categories at this years Vendy Awards, September 24th at Governor’s Island.

Week 5 of The Great Food Truck Race

This week on The Great Food Truck Race the four remaining teams headed to Memphis, where a series of twists and turns led to a shocking elimination. After Seabird’s exit last week, Lime Truck was somewhat shaken by nearly being sent home, but came back with a renewed energy and killer menu. Once the teams arrived they were given ingredients to create their own barbecue sauce, as well as butcher a 100 pound hog, smoke it and serve it with their newly-made barbecue sauce. Memphis BBQ veteran Jim Neely judged teams’ work and proclaimed Roxy’s the winner of the challenge. For winning, Roxy got $500 additional seed money and a head start in the elimination challenge while the other three teams had to clean up the rest of the hog to donate to a local food bank.
Each team was given $500 to start, more than in previous weeks, and Roxy’s immediately parked downtown to set up their truck. Hodge Podge parked by a restaurant they had a connection with, Lime parked outside Bluefin Restaurant where they purchased seafood for their menu, and Korilla headed to Beale Street, where for the first time in the competition they found they weren’t in a great location, with only a small line. Hodge Podge managed to open first; even beating Roxy’s which had a significant head start.

In the Speed Bump, Tyler Florence told the teams they would have to switch to an entirely vegetarian menu. Roxy’s and Lime transitioned immediately, even though Lime Truck spent a good amount of their seed money on seafood. Hodge Podge closed to visit a grocery store and rethink their menu, while Korilla got tofu delivered to them for tofu tacos. The next day a local blogger called the Chubby Vegetarian was sent to try food from each truck and lend them some publicity, and the truck he declared the winner would be safe from elimination. As the day winded down, Roxy’s had the longest consistent line so the other three trucks went to a park where a concert was being held for more business, but the crowd was not as large as expected. Hodge Podge lost electricity, and all three trucks felt they had under-performed this week.
As the elimination finally approached, Tyler Florence warned the trucks that today would not be a good day for them. First he announced that the Chubby Vegetarian announced the Lime Truck as the winner, saving them from elimination. The blogger remarked that the Lime Truck’s food was some of the best food he’d ever had. Tyler ten announced that one of the teams tried to cheat; New York’s own Korilla BBQ put some of their own money in the cash box to increase profits, violating the rules. Even though Hodge Podge had the lowest sales for the week, Korilla was eliminated for cheating.
Next week the three remaining teams head to Atlanta, Georgia. For full coverage of The Great Food Truck Race click here.

The Great Staten Island Foodie-Truck-a-thon is on!

This Saturday, September 17th, The Great Staten Island Foodie Truck-athon will be held in honor of the borough’s 350th birthday. The event was originally meant to be held at the end of August, but was postponed due to the hurricane.
For the event several of the city’s finest food trucks will gather in Lot A of the St. George Esplanade just off the Staten Island Ferry. The total list of impressive food vendors for this event includes Wafels & Dinges, The Desi Food Truck, The Frying Dutchmen, The Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Cupcake Stop. In total there will be fourteen food trucks present, and the event offers free entry from 11-5PM. The event also will feature DJs from Manhattan City Music and limited edition prize giveaways. For a great time this weekend come celebrate Staten Island and explore the anniversary of this borough with some great food.

2.5 Million New Yorkers Have Trouble Affording Food

Startling news came in from the USDA today about hunger and poverty rates in New York City. The survey measured results from 2008 and 2010, and found that 2.5 million New Yorkers couldn’t afford enough food, a 50 percent increase from a similar survey taken from 2005 and 2007. The data goes deeper to note that 702,000 state residents are classified as officially going hungry, while one in seven cannot afford food at some point in a given year. These results are higher than any ever recorded before, and mark a severe problem in New York.
According to the USDA, numbers leveled off in 2010 after a three year drop, but have taken a turn for the worse. High levels of funding for state-sponsored programs may have accounted for less hunger in recent years, but recent budget cuts may have reversed this. In 2010 President Obama and Congress cut federal funding for food banks, soup kitchens and food pantries by 40% nationwide (and in New York City).

Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger said “This is the highest level of state hunger since the government started counting it. This new data proves that, over the last few years, millions of New Yorkers were at the edge of an economic cliff, with many falling off into hunger but some barely hanging on with the aid of government nutrition programs”.
New Yorker’s inside and outside of the food industry can help to rectify this situation. Nonprofits organizations are always looking for volunteers, like the Hot Bread Kitchen, which offers training to low income women to develop their own businesses. Other organizations like City Harvest work to collect excess food from restaurants and deliver them to those in need. With hunger rates rising and government programs declining, more weight than ever falls upon our efforts and those of nonprofits to keep our city full.

Vendy Awards Dessert Nominees Announced

Today the Street Vendor Project’s Vendy Awards announced its five dessert nominees for this year’s upcoming competition. Relative new players in the mobile dessert world, the nominees are Miss Softee, La Bella Torte, Cupcake Crew, Wooly’s and La Newyorkina. These finalists were chosen by anyone who wished to cast a vote, and many exceptional dessert vendors were snubbed this year.
Veteran trucks like Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and Coolhaus have received plenty of media attention for their original creations, but fans chose newer treat vendors over these traditional favorites. Hoboken’s La Bella Torte has only been around for five months, but serves some truly unique desserts, including an olive oil, rosemary and blood orange cake. Wooly’s Truck specializes in Hawaiian and Taiwanese shaved ices, and takes a different approach to the standard shaved ice recipe. This truck blends delicious flavors together in ice, then shaves them off and covers them with a variety of toppings, such as fresh fruit.

Miss Softee is a woman who has served signature ice cream cones from a Mister Softee ice cream truck for the last two years no longer operates from her truck, but still makes scheduled appearances for events. La Newyorkina serves handmade gourmet Mexican ice pops with unusual flavors, like cucumber lime or mango chili with real fruit slices. The last nominee, Cupcake Crew, serves gourmet cupcakes with an Italian appeal. Many are stuffed with cannoli cream, and owner Frankie Francollo constantly tricks out his cupcakes to stay ahead of the competition.
The Seventh Annual Vendy Awards will be held on September 24th at Governors Island. Tickets are already sold out, so if you’re one of the lucky ones who already ordered a ticket, be sure to try out these diverse desserts.

Week 4 of The Great Food Truck Race

This week the five remaining teams drove out to the college town of Manhattan, Kansas, where they faced a series of challenges ultimately resulting in one team being eliminated. After dominating performances last week and weeks before that, Lime Truck was bested in the first Truck Stop challenge by Seabirds Truck. The teams were all granted a $5 debit card to come up with an original recipe and impress a Kansas City food critic. The Seabirds created a raw food cupcake with barbecue sauce, and they were awarded exclusive access to a huge restaurant/bar area, while the rest of the trucks duked it out for space on campus.

The teams were each given $400 to plan their menus for the elimination phase of the challenge. Seabirds had a huge crowd waiting for them after shopping, Roxy’s pulled away from the rest and the other three teams set up at City Park, where college students had already anticipated their arrival. Tyler Florence introduced the speed bump early this time, immediately requiring the teams to price everything on their menu under $1. Some trucks with planned expensive menus had more trouble with this than others, but many made do. Korilla introduced $1 tacos, and Roxy’s made grilled cheese sliders. The Lime Truck based its menu off $8-$10 dollar items, and the Seabirds made $1 half sandwiches but worried that they were charging too little for their premium products, and began falling behind on their orders again. Several teams headed back to reconfigure their menus, while others targeted bar crowds and prepared for the next day.
The next day the teams faced similar large crowds, but the difficulty was in filling orders quickly and dealing with the low menu prices. Hodge Podge Truck began pulling customers off Korilla’s long lines to take orders. I thought a fight was about to break out when the Korilla guys confronted them about having no food truck etiquette in front of many customers, but Hodge Podge just kept taking the customers they could get.
In the end, Korilla BBQ came out on top again, with $5,245, and Roxy’s in a close second with $5,132. The Lime Truck and Seabirds were in the bottom 2, and in the end Seabirds got eliminated selling less than Hodge Podge and Lime truck. Next week the teams head to Memphis, Tennessee to create all vegetarian menus, as the Seabirds lament that they won’t be there for what could have been a triumphant week for them.

Gusta Helps Food Lovers Connect to Exclusive Events

New website Gusta offers access to some of the most exclusive food events around the globe, with limited tickets to new and upcoming events. This idea has already emerged in various other websites and apps, such as grubwithus and spoondate. Gusta is essentially a means for chefs to promote events and invite patrons without spending many hours handling invites and payments. Gusta also takes time out of searching for events in the elaborate ‘underground dining scene’ in many cities.

Gusta works with chefs to promote events, as customers can subscribe to events they may be interested in, and Gusta will automatically tout these events through email and various social media platforms. All payments for events can be made securely on the website, and chefs have ultimate control over all features pertaining to their events.
The events published on Gusta are ‘underground’, so difficult to locate but gaining in number around the world. The site handles multiple currencies, establishing it as a decidedly international website, and charge 10% per ticket, leaving the rest to the chefs. 10% is a small toll though for access to some of the world’s most unique dining experiences. Supper clubs offer chef-inspired creations in vastly different settings, ranging from mansions to small homes. No matter the cuisine, trying out Gusta ensures a one of a kind dining experience.

Great, Quality Lunch at Amma Restaurant

Amma is a delightful Indian restaurant located in midtown, Manhattan on 51st Street. Aside from their delicious lunch and dinner menus and immense wine selection, their takeout lunch menu is great as well, and perfect for a delicious break in the middle of the day. The lunch specials are moderately priced, ranging from $9-$12 for a complete takeout lunch box. These boxes are more than enough for one person, and come loaded with the main dish of your choice, rice, naan, a vegetable of the day, and daal. For the main dish customers can choose from a variety of meat, cooked in different sauces, or from one of Amma’s many vegetarian specials.

Having tried Amma’s lunch specials many times before, I can attest to the quality of nearly every dish. The sauces are always rich and full-bodied, with generous chunks of tender meat in them. The rice is flavorful as well, but the sauces completely overpower their taste. Some of the richest dishes are the lamb vindaloo or chicken tikka masala. Daal is usually never a flavorful food, but Amma’s daal is mildly sweet and delicious all on its own. The vegetables vary by day, by are cooked in a traditional Indian style and complement well with the rich sauces. One of the most irresistible parts of these lunch specials is the naan. Perfectly flaky and cooked just right, the naan is packaged in tin foil to retain its heat and is delicious by itself or paired with some of the complementary sauces. Overall, Amma is one of New York City’s finest Indian restaurants, and their lunch special is a deal not to miss.You can order from Amma online here.

Week 3 of The Great Food Truck Race

Last night on The Great Food Truck Race the six remaining teams raced their way to Denver, Colorado, where they were granted even less money and more crippling speed bumps. Once again the teams had to utilize their own knowledge of the area and their local contacts to stay ahead of the competition, while making risky alliances with others.
The first truck stop challenge required the food trucks to create an original recipe based on wild mushrooms that they gathered themselves, and an assortment of vegetables provided by host Tyler Florence. Their dish would then be judged by local Denver chef, Frank Bonnano, and the winner would get some helpful publicity on Good Morning America, as well as $200 for the elimination phase of the show. After each team prepared their dishes, Bonnano gave them all praise but awarded Lime Truck the victory, leaving the vegan Seabirds Truck devastated that they lost a veggie-based challenge. All the trucks were soon devastated however; as they learned that they would receive no seed money and would have to find their own ingredients (except Lime truck).
Once again the food trucks proved their resourcefulness by gathering ingredients on their own. The Lime Truck and Hodge Podge formed an early alliance, though why Hodge Podge would ever trust these guys after what they did last week is beyond me. The trucks all loaned or struck deals with local establishments, to get ingredients. Café con Leche, Hodge Podge and Lime Truck all charged very high prices for sandwiches, and Seabirds suffered from slow service. Korilla BBQ eased along just fine in a great location, and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese noticed a significant recovery from last week’s near elimination.

The next day the trucks resumed their sales, but faced one of the show’s ‘speed bumps’ in which each truck would have to operate with only one person doing ll the work. The trucks all handled this differently, Korilla played rock, paper, scissors to decide who would operate the truck, Roxy’s called it “a nightmare”, Hodge Podge was confident, Lime took group orders over single orders, and Seabirds got even slower. As sales slowed and trucks relocated, Korilla and Roxy’s crashed Café con Leche’s location, and Seabirds lamented that this might be their last week.
When all was said and done however, Seabirds scraped a fifth place finish, while Lime and Korilla dominated the competition, each making near $7,000. Café con Leche was sent home, losing only by $87 and noting that the high bill they owed to the restaurant that lent them food probably cost them the game. Next week the five remaining trucks head to Manhattan, Illinois, a college town where no doubt they will create some delicious munchie food for their ravenous customers.

Kimchi Taco Truck

The Kimchi Taco Truck stops in midtown for lunch during weekdays, and offers yet another take on the increasingly popular Korean fusion food genre. As one of the few food trucks still around midtown, we decided to check it out to see what all the buzz was about. That, and the mouthwatering photos the truck posted to it’s twitter. The truck offers a variety of tacos, “kim” cheese steaks, burrito bowls, and authentic Korean sides like spicy rice cakes. We opted to try the most notable menu item, the Kimchi taco. The menu was pricier than we’d hoped, but for $7 we got three kimchi tacos, choosing the Korean BBQ beef over the spicy pork and pulled chicken.

The taco’s came in a biodegradable box, it seems that all of the Kimchi Truck’s packaging is biodegradable, including their utensils, straws and bags. The tacos were packed full of beef and kimchi, and topped with scallions and cilantro. The kimchi was definitely authentic, pungent enough that it smelled through the bag and still left a lingering smell in our office. Adding kimchi to a taco is sheer brilliance, it went amazingly with the scallions and cilantro, and created a truly unique taste. We were sadly underwhelmed by the beef however. It was cut in smaller pieces than I expected and the texture was more like ground beef than Korean BBQ. The kimchi may have overpowered some of its taste, but the beef was a little too mild, and we could hardly taste it beneath the flavorful toppings. The soft taco shell was pretty standard, though a little tough sometimes.
Overall we found the kimchi to be the best part of the entire taco, while the beef was much blander than other Korean BBQ trucks like Bapcha or Korilla. Our advice: order a side of kimchi for $3 and get the rest of your meal somewhere else.

New Calorie Counting App Takes Information from Food Pictures

Mealsnap is a new iPhone app that takes knowledge from pictures of food and translates this into caloric content for its users. Mealsnap was developed by a fitness social network called DailyBurn, which has already created several iPhone applications relating to dieting and fitness. The app takes effect after its user takes a picture of their food, then the picture is inetrally matched across a database of 500,000 items, and responds to the user with a range of calories for the photographed item.
Beyond that, the app can give a range of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins of the photographed food. The app has a sharing option as well where users can tell their friends about what they’ve eaten through any of the well-known social media platforms.

The long-term implications of this app aim to help users become more health conscious and keep track of what they eat. The app can be used a food journal, allowing users to keep track of their daily intake through a photo log with full nutritional facts attached. Sharing what they’ve eaten may also help users take more accountability in their dieting, and help them stick to a healthy eating pattern.
MealSnap is available for 99 cents at the iTunes store.

Week 2 of The Great Food Truck Race

This week on The Great Food Truck Race the seven remaining teams head to Salt Lake City, after a tough first episode in Las Vegas where Sky’s Gourmet Taco’s was eliminated. This week the teams were handed only $100 each for ingredients, which makes preparation considerably more difficult. First off the teams were told to compete in a sausage making challenge, where they toured a local sausage establishment to come up with their own original recipes. Korilla BBQ showed their ingenuity and flexed their Columbia University degrees by bowing out of the mini competition to save their sausage for the sales part later. Host Tyler Florence noted that it was a good move, but also could have got them disqualified.
The vegan Seabirds Truck also had trouble with this competition, as sausage isn’t exactly allowed in vegan cooking. Seabirds’ Stephanie Morgan said however, “Everybody’s already assuming we’re going to lose this competition, since they think there’s no way you can make vegan sausage, but there is,” Stephanie says. “We’re going to take the garbanzo beans and mash them all up, and add lots of bold spices to mimic that sausage flavor.” Unfortunately their bean-sausage that looked nothing like sausage wasn’t enough to win this competition. The Hodge Podge Truck, the only truck which had previous experience making sausage, swept this competition and was granted an extra $100 for ingredients and avoided the later ‘speed bump’.
The Seabirds Truck thought to continue their alliance with cocky Lime Truck, and invited them to a pet adoption drive they found out about. The Lime Truck then contacted the owners of the drive and signed a contract to be the sole food truck there, putting an end to this alliance. The Seabirds Truck got lucky though, finding a café known to be frequented by young people and vegans, and attracted a sizeable crowd there. Café con Leche thought well ahead this time, partnering with a local Mexican restaurant to do catering a party. Meanwhile Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese had the same problem as last week, wondering whether they had enough food to match their customers’ demand.

This week’s Speed Bump made each team move one mile from their current location, forcing many trucks to abandon healthy lines and head to deserted areas. Some trucks managed to retain their customers, but many lost them entirely. Korilla BBQ dominated sales this week, showing that their early strategy paid off best. Roxy’s and Devilicious were only $159 apart in sales, but Devilicious was sent home. Devilicious may have sealed their own fate by offering $1 off each of their meals, focusing more on volume than cash. Next week the teams head to Denver, Colorado, where growing disputes will no doubt continue. The Lime Truck and Roxy’s continue to battle over parking spaces, and Lime Truck’s bold attitude against Roxy’s tough demeanor should make for some great television.

Parked! And Other Food Festivals to Come

This Saturday was the Parked! Food Festival was held at the South Street Seaport, in which food vendors from all over New York City gathered to serve their signature dishes to throngs of hungry New Yorkers. The event has been deemed a successful one by both food truck vendors and customers who attended, remarking that lines were shorter than expected and food came rather quickly. The largest problem at these events in the past has been long waits at the more popular trucks. Some trucks complained about their placement, either on side streets with less traffic or next to direct competition from vendors selling similar products, but in the end every truck said their sales evened out and they did alright by the end of the day. Customers also were able to move between lines quickly and sample many different types of cuisines.

Some new procedures were put into effect this year which may have streamlined the event for customers and vendors. Menu sizes were reduced and orders were taken outside the trucks to maximize efficiency within the truck. All of this bodes well for food truck events, as complaints in the past had decreased their popularity.
With improvements along the way in food truck events, we have many more to look forward to in the coming weeks. All About Downtown is coming to Jersey City on September 17th, featuring ten of New York and New Jersey’s top food trucks. Among these are Korilla BBQ, Luke’s Lobster, Two Pitas in a Pod and Mamma Marci. Then the week after this event is the one we have all ben waiting for, the 2011 Vendy Awards. This year the Vendy’s will be held at Governor’s Island, and you can purchase tickets here.

New York City Food Truck Regulation Set to Increase

The New York City Council recently proposed a new food truck regulation that would permit a GPS monitoring system to be installed in food trucks, to gain better insight into their patterns of travel throughout the city. These GPS systems would be placed in both food trucks and carts, and aim to find out where food trucks go in reference to parking laws, and to curb pollution and noise.
On the Upper West Side complaints continue to be mounted against trucks, as resident say food trucks clog up the streets, create unwelcome noise and pollute the air. Spearheaded by City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, this GPS proposal aims to regulate exactly how many trucks and carts there are, where they’re located, and whether they are licensed or not. While the City Council supposedly has five different agencies regulating the trucks, complaints claim that only local police seem to be doing anything to enforce laws against these mobile vendors. Particularly on the Upper West Side, complaints have been increasingly rapidly.

This situation goes hand in hand with many of the other pressures food trucks have been dealing with this year, many having been forced out of their usual locations by increased complaints from local brick and mortar businesses. While food trucks may seem unfairly targeted, many New Yorkers are clamoring for the same regulations to be placed on these mobile vendors that have been placed on restaurants. Health codes and licenses should be applied to any food vendor, if not for the sake of equity than for safety concerns. Recently over 1500 health violations were passed on food trucks and carts, ranging from hygiene to meat preparation. Food trucks have been growing to be immensely popular, and ‘gourmet’ trucks are expanding nationwide. If restaurants are held up to rigorous examination, shouldn’t the same be expected of food trucks?
However on implanting GPS trackers in food trucks, a whole new range of issues arises. GPS trackers will help the city gain more information about food trucks, but at what cost? Don’t these trucks have a right to go where they please without being watched? It seems that monitoring their movements may be a direct violation of their constitutional rights. Clearly this is a controversial issue, and chances are a law like this won’t be passed for some time. But as long as it’s being discussed, what manner of regulations will come up next? I invite you to weigh in on this issue and say what you think about the freedom associated with food trucks.

"Ratio" Food App Simplifies Life in the Kitchen

A food app that came out recently called Ratio, redefines the way we look at recipes from strict measurements to a simple ratio of ingredients metric. The app was designed by Michael Ruhlman, an esteemed journalist and cookbook author. Ruhlman specializes in bringing elaborate culinary art to the home kitchen, and continues this trend with Ratio. The app quantifies cooking through ratios of ingredients rather than specific measurements; for example rather than directing someone to use two eggs and a cup of flower, Ratio would direct the user to cook with three parts flour, two parts eggs. This formula works for a wide variety of recipes, and is especially useful in making batters. In this way the user can utilize a ratio of ingredients to make whatever quantity of a recipe they require, as long as they stick with these basic ratios.
The app itself is very user-friendly, allowing you to save recipes and searches, and even share your updates with others. The app also offers a handy calculator to help you while cooking, with metric conversions available. Ratio app is available for Apple and Android for $4.99.

Week 1 of The Great Food Truck Race

This week The Great Food Truck Race kicked off on the Food Network, as eight gourmet food trucks from across the nation faced off selling their delicious goods in Las Vegas. The eight trucks mostly hail from the West coast; Café con Leche and Sky’s Gourmet Tacos from Los Angeles, San Diego’s Devilicious, Seabirds Food Truck from Costa Mesa, Lime Truck from Irvine, Hodge Podge from Cleveland, Boston’s Roxy Grilled Cheese, and New York’s own Korilla BBQ. Each truck is great in their own right, and watching them go head to head makes me wish none of them had to eliminated. However, every week one team must leave the competition, and this week they all headed to Las Vegas to duke it out in the city of sin. Given a mere $500 to buy all their groceries, the teams were introduced and immediately took to the road.

Before the competition even began one team blew a tire on the road to Vegas. Host Tyler Florence informed the truck that repairs would have to come out of their own $500 budget, giving them a considerable setback early in the competition. The remaining trucks immediately got to work on the road, calling acquaintances in Vegas and planning to setup around festivals and hotspots. However more setbacks awaited the teams once they arrived, as one team immediately learned that the famed Vegas strip was no place for a food truck. Others were forced to relocate due to lack of traffic, and later turf wars developed between several trucks as well. Every episode a “speed bump” is introduced, in which the teams are given a randomly selected handicap. This week they were forced to shut off their propane, effectively halting their cooking. For the vegan Seabirds Truck this turned into more of an advantage than anything, but for trucks that rely on their grills to cook meat, it was much worse. In the end each truck produced some great looking food, and enjoyed moments of greatness and failure. For the trucks that knew the terrain better I would like to see how they fare next week, as they continue moving east. As New York’s only representative, my money is on Korilla BBQ, three Columbia graduates with a killer marinade. Stay tuned for more updates as the race continues on Food Network.

Long Island City Food Truck Lot

The long-awaited food truck lot in Long Island City finally opened this Tuesday, August 9th. Food trucks that have been forced to relocate popular spots throughout New York City have already begun to seek out this refuge, hoping that a large congregation of trucks might attract New Yorkers to this new destination.

The lot itself it 11,000 square feet and privately owned by a company called Rockrose Development. The lot is open for lunch from 11AM until 3PM, attracting all kinds of visitors to its daily trucks. The lot can hold sixteen trucks at a time, and is being monitored by the New York City Food Truck Association to ensure equity. The Association is trying to rotate as many trucks in as possible; however trucks pay the corporation a fee to use the lot during the day. On opening day, the Desi Food Truck, the Rickshaw Truck, Cupcake Stop and others came to the lot. Korilla BBQ, Red Hook Lobster and other trucks arrived the second day. The Long Island Food Truck Lot is on Twitter as well, and you can follow here.

Kim's Aunt Kitchen

Today I decided to try Kim’s Aunt Kitchen, a small fried food cart with a wide array of options. Kim’s is surrounded by several other food trucks and carts on Avenue of the Americas, but does well for itself with its delicious fried options. Kim’s is another Mexican-Korean fusion trucks, though the bulgogi beef platter seems to be the only truly Korean item on the menu. The rest are fried fish or chicken options, served on a platter with either rice, French fries or lo mein, or simply in sandwich form.
After seeing some sandwiches served, I went with a flounder sandwich on a hero roll, served with a salad topping and white sauce. The fish was delicious, fried to a perfect crisp and soft and flaky on the inside. It had a mild taste to it but that went well with the fried bread and sauce. The sandwich was perfect for eating on the go too, and at only $5, a genuine deal.

For me, Kim’s Aunt Kitchen represented the ideal street food; cheap, fried and delicious. It didn’t hurt that free samples were being given away as well (the bulgogi beef is not as authentic as Bapcha’s). Leaving this crowded spot on Avenue of the Americas I know that there are still many more food trucks to try, but Kim’s Aunt Kitchen left me satisfied enough to wait another day to try the others.