“The Vendys are the Oscars of food for the real New York.” - Mario Batali
Shaheen Malik Akhtaruzzaman emigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 2004. Whereas he had owned a restaurant in his native village, in New York he got a job as a busboy at Planet Hollywood, in Times Square. On his breaks, he would go visit the two famous (and Vendy-nominated) Bangladeshi carts nearby – Kwik Meal and Biryani Cart. Shaheen began working at Biryani cart, and then, several years later, opened the first Bangladeshi cart in Lower Manhattan, where he runs 3 carts, most famously at Liberty Street and Broadway. He, his wife, and three kids recently bought their first home, in Jamaica Estates, Queens.
Hard Times Sundaes food truck was opened by chef-owner Andrew Zurica after his brick and mortar restaurant, Luncheonette, was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. Despite being away from the Manhattan crowds in Mill Basin, Andrew’s burger truck has earned Zurica numerous write ups (NY Times, Thrillist, BK Mag) for being one of the city’s best burgers, and the truck was recently featured on Esquire’s The Next Great Burger. The signature burger, “the hard times burger” is a single, double or triple burger with American cheese, caramelized onions and thick cut hardwood smoked bacon, on a buttered and grilled potato roll that soaks up the right amount of flavors from the grill. Think you’ve tried the best burger ever? Andrew would claim you haven’t tried Hard Times Sundaes.
Guandong Cheong Fun is a neighborhood legend cooking up Cantonese steamed rice noodles known as “cheong fun” from a pushcart in the heart of South Brooklyn’s Chinatown (61st Street & 8th Ave). Traditionally eaten for breakfast, cheong fun are made using a thin rice batter topped with meat or vegetables, and then steamed, rolled, and cut into noodles. Husband and Wife team Ri Xin Kuang and Xiao Juan Yu decided to bring the flavors of southern China, where Kuang honed his skills making cheong fun in restaurants, to New York City when they started in 2012. They pride themselves on using fresh ingredients to make each rice noodle roll to order topped off with a selection of homemade sauces.
SNOWDAY FOOD TRUCK
Last year’s Rookie of the Year Winner is back to compete for the big one. Snowday describes their food as “Gourmet Lumberjack,” and is the city’s first farm-to-truck food truck. Their menu features a maple grilled cheese, local beef neck, maple smoked spare ribs and a seasonal selection of pickles, salads and vegetables. Snowday Food Truck is as inspiring as it is delicious. The truck is run by Drive Change - a New York based organization that uses the food truck industry to train, employ and empower young people who are coming home from jail and prison so they can access new opportunities and live bright futures.
Known to all of Astoria as the Souvlaki Lady, Elpida Vasiliadis’ greek food cart is nothing short of an institution. For twenty-five years the Souvlaki Lady has served on the corner of 33rd Street and Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria, Queens. Vasiliadis celebrated recipes are those she learned from her grandmother. Vasiliadis was part of the emergence of Greek food in New York City — when she started serving souvlaki the only people who knew what she was serving were Greek immigrants. Now she serves to everyone in the neighborhood, who can't stop coming back for the taste of Greece.