82° Good Afternoon
82° Good Afternoon
Eat and Drink

Vendy Awards' rookie field: Momo Bros, Kelvin's, Stuf'd and more

The Vendy Awards return for the 13th year on Saturday, and the contenders are lining up their trucks and carts for the "Oscars of street food."

After soliciting nominations from the public for their favorite sidewalk chefs, contest organizers pared down the list last month to five finalists in categories like dessert vendors, vegan ones and rookies. Those finalists will compete in a cook-off on Governors Island this weekedn, when ticket holders and a panel of celebrity judges including Saveur editor-in-chief Adam Sachs and Resy CEO Ben Leventhal choose the winners.

amNewYork has the specs on this year's rookie contenders — the freshly minted vendors who could be the next Luke's Lobster, Calexico or Wafels & Dinges.

"For me, this is such an exciting category because these vendors are so new and enthusiastic," said Street Vendor Project director Sean Basinski, whose nonprofit organizes the awards as a fundraiser.

"Years from now they will be battered by all the stress and difficulty of selling on the street, but right now they are in their moment."

Stuf'd co-founder Rebecca Mitchel and her partner Josh LoCascio were honored and excited to be nominated as a rookie vendor, Mitchel said.

"When we found out about the nomination, we were freaking out," she said. They're be preparing 1,500 to 2,000 samples of their best selling sandwiches to woo the judges and the public this weekend, with LoCascio in the truck and Mitchel giving her best pitch.

Here are the cliff notes you need on Stuf'd and their competition before you judge their cooking:


Stuf'd CEO Rebecca Mitchel and executive chef John
Photo Credit: Facebook / stufdtruck

Stuf'd CEO Rebecca Mitchel and executive chef John LoCascio met while working at Bill's Bar & Burger in Rockefeller Center. A graduate of NYU's hospitality program and a former manager at Eataly, Mitchel always knew she wanted to run her own food business. Growing up in an Italian family in Queens, LoCascio had worked as a professional chef since his teenage years. In October 2016, they partnered up to serve snacks like tater tots and sweet potato fries, $10-$11 sandwiches like Momma's Meatball (with turkey meatballs, smoked mozzarella cheese and maple marinara sauce) and sweet French toast bites ($5 for two) in flavors like rainbow cannoli and oreo cheesecake. Stuf'd's signature bread is challah covered in a savory egg wash and panko breadcrumbs, then baked. The truck parks at the Dumbo Food Truck Lot, at 56 Jay St. on Tuesdays.

Momo Bros

Momo Bros founder Pasang Thinlay is a Tibetan
Photo Credit: Facebook / MOMOBROSNYC

Momo Bros founder Pasang Thinlay is a Tibetan refugee who grew up in Nepal and immigrated to the United States in 2008, at age 15. He launched his food truck after finishing high school and working at a series of Japanese restaurants. The truck travels all over the city, but you can often find it parked near the intersection of 73rd Street and Broadway, in a Queens neighborhood known as Little Tibet. Thinlay's truck specializes in jhol momo, a traditional Nepali soup dumpling.

Kelvin's Burger and Brats

German food brought owners Renis and Inka Fusha
Photo Credit: Facebook / KelvinsTruck

German food brought owners Renis and Inka Fusha together: The husband and wife first met at Renis' Astoria restaurant, Max Brawurst und Bier, where Inka -- homesick for her native Germany -- was a regular customer. The Fushas took their favorite cuisine to the street this April, with a food truck named after their 6-year-old son Kelvin. They've been serving burgers made with Pat La Frieda beef and German sausages like the Zigeuner bratwurst (pictured) from locations in Manhattan and Long Island City, Queens. You may see the truck's namesake, who sometimes tags along with his dad, Inka Fusha told us. Kelvin's gourmet burgers, like the Brahaus, which comes with beer-braised onions, Monterey Jack cheese, tomato and house sauce, are $10. Sausages with a bun and two toppings are $6.

Harajuku Sushi and Crepe

Owner Aaron Chun, who hails from the Chinese
Photo Credit: Twitter / @harajukutruck

Owner Aaron Chun, who hails from the Chinese province of Fujian, spent 17 years working in sushi restaurants before launching his food truck in January. His sushi's special twist: It's made with black or "forbidden" rice, once a delicacy that only China's wealthiest could afford. With a nuttier taste akin to its brown cousin, black rice gets its dark color from an excess of the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin. Chun also serves Japanese-style sweet and savory rice crepes from his truck, typically parked in west midtown. Sushi rolls vary in price from $6 to $13, crepes from $7 to $13.

Warung Roadside

Born last May in the backyard of Bed
Photo Credit: Facebook / @warungroadside

Born last May in the backyard of Bed Stuy bar Project Parlor, chef Trevor Lombaer's Warung Roadside has since served Bangkok street food out of a converted hot dog cart at pop-up fashion events and festivals like Electric Zoo. Lombaer, who draws on inspiration from his recent travels to Southeast Asia, sources many of his ingredients from Thailand and supplements those with local organic produce and antibiotic- and hormone-free meat from local farms. He works with his fiancée, Pias Mongfer, who moved from Bangkok to join him, and longtime friend Eunice Lee. Order a pad thai in a cone, chicken satay with peanut sauce or a barbecue pork platter, all for $8 each. Warung's latest offering is the Chaingmai Dog, a grilled northern Thai pork sausage served between two steamed bao buns with caramelized onions, sriracha mustard and house-pickled peaches on top.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Eat and Drink photos & videos