Vendy laureate Rolf Babiel.Photo: courtesy the Street Vendor Project
Our heartiest congratulations go out to Samiul Haque Noor, the winner of the 2006 Vendy Award for New York’s best street vendor. Noor won a cook-off against three other finalists, including the legendary "Arepa Lady," to take the top honors Sunday night. We contacted last year’s winner, Rolf Babiel of Hallo Berlin, who was ineligible for this year’s contest, at his home in Binghamton, to ask him what’s in store for Noor. "I got a lot of new customers," Babiel said. "And my lines got longer. Too long! I lost some of the old customers. We had visits from Oprah and Rachael Ray and journalists from Germany and Japan." Babiel appreciates the attention the Vendys earned him, but one thing made him a little uneasy. "I got a big trophy," he said. "But they called me up and said they need to take it back. I thought, It should be like Miss Universe, and I could give the trophy to the new winner. It would have been a little more professional. You know, I think the Vendys are a little bit disorganized. But I don’t get carried away."