Given Saturday’s unseasonably hot weather, the crowd was in good spirits at the Vendy Awards — but the temperature might explain the giant, snaking lines that grew in front of the stations for dessert contenders Kelvin Slushies and Big Gay Ice Cream (where we spent almost an hour and a half waiting for a salted chocolate-dipped vanilla-and-dulce-de-leche concoction called the Salty Pimp, which was totally worth it). Kelvin’s Alex Rein was prepared for a crowd this time, especially after an appearance at Parked, the food-truck festival that overran Governors Island three weeks ago that was marred by disorganization. “As long as I remind myself it’s not as bad as Parked, it calms the nerves,” he said while surveying two hours’ worth of line camped in front of his truck. “Truthfully, I’m thrilled. I couldn’t be more happy.”
Last year’s rookie-award winner Schnitzel & Things rewarded those who waited a comparatively brief twenty minutes with a full plateful of veal or chicken schnitzel, braised sauerkraut, and a trio of salads: beet with feta, cucumber, and an outrageously delicious Austrian potato salad. The only other long lines were around Bistro Truck and newcomer Souvlaki GR, but they were by no means the only ones serving crowd-pleasing cuisine. Mexicue ran out of its sweet tea with lime within two hours (although the surprisingly popular barbecued beet tacos lasted all afternoon), and you had to time your visit to A-Pou’s Taste just right to score one of his juicy Taiwanese pot stickers.
At the end of the day, it turned out that Rein was wrong: He could, in fact, have been more happy, and became so when Kelvin won the award for desserts, beating out Vendys veterans the Dessert Truck and Big Gay Ice Cream. Souvlaki GR was the no-surprise rookie-award winner, and King of Falafel and Shawarma took home both the people’s choice award and the main-event Vendy Cup, the first time a vendor has won both in at least three years, according to committee member Liz Davis, proving that a salt-of-the-earth food cart still trumps a yuppie upstart.
Guests who left before the awards to beat the rush still wound up riding back to Manhattan with some of the vendors. “Who won desserts?” someone called at the disappointed looking crew from Guerrilla Ice Cream (whose Libertacao, a chocolate-port ice cream with cashews and brûléed-to-order frozen bananas, deserves special mention both for originality and for deliciousness). Whoever it was got their answer, because the call went out again: “You guys were delicious!”