This past weekend, I attended the 5th annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards. This city has been a good haven for food trucks, following in the footsteps of LA and NYC. And what better way to showcase this than with a battle of the trucks? For a tax-deductible $65 a person, the proceeds benefit the Food Trust - an organization entrenched in providing healthy and affordable food access. It's also the brains behind the city's Night Markets.
What does a ticket to the Vendy Awards get you? An all-access pass to some of the best food trucks in the area - food and drinks included. This year, the JFK Bridge leading to 30th Street Station was closed off, providing the perfect venue.
Sly Fox was on hand with several beers on hand. Santa Cristina wines and GUS (Grown Up Sodas) were also providing generous pours of their wines and adult sodas, respectively.
And the food trucks? While Mom-Mo's, Mixin Bowl, and Jerry's Kitchen appeared to be no shows, there was more than enough to fill your Philly foodie belly. In the running for the 2015 Vendy Cup were Foolish Waffles, Flying Deutschman, and the Butter Truck. Rookie of the Year candidates included Philly Fry, Seoulfull Philly, Rigatoni's Mobile Crabcakes, and Las Olas Food Trucks. And last but not least, the dessert finalists featured Sweet Lavender, Jimmies Cupcake Co, Luscious Bakery, Pound Cake Heaven, and Undrgrnd Donuts.
SeoulFullPhilly - Mini Cheesesteak Koreans
Korean BBQ marinated beef, whiz, sauteed kimchi, onions
Rookie of the Year winner Seoulfull Philly had one of the longest lines of the day. They were still masters of churning out their Korean-American fusion of cheesesteaks. While a bit high on the bread-to-meat ratio, the soft pillowy roll housed well-seasoned Korean BBQ marinated beef, whiz, onions, and sauteed kimchi to bring out funky depth.
Rigatoni's Mobile Crabcakes
Rigatoni's crabcakes provided perfect bite-size morsels of sweet crab, accented by a lightly spicy aioli.
Flying Deutschman - Knockwurst & Bratwurst Samplers
Spicy mustard, curry ketchup
The Flying Deutschman brought out a sampling of both their knockwurst and bratwurst, which were snappy, juicy, and nicely paired with a spicy mustard and a curry ketchup with some depth.
Las Olas - Vegetarian Bowl
Las Olas had the healthiest dish of the day with their healthy Mexican fare. And while I'm not generally one who tries to watch his waistline, this was a surprisingly flavorful blend of quinoa, black beans, sour cream, and chips.
Philly Fry - Surf and Turf Waffle Fries
Steak, crab meat, American cheese, Old Bay, waffles fries
Philly Fry's long line was worth the wait. There were a myriad of options on offer, including a base of regular, waffle, or curly fries, topped with crab, steak, cheese, or buffalo sauce. I went with the surf and turf, which wasn't the prettiest dish, but certainly tasty. The beef was juicy and well-seasoned, with the sweet crab accented by the Old Bay. And the fries? As crisp as they could be!
Butter Sandwich Truck - Japanese Curry Chips
Handcut griddle chips, sour cream, cotija, sweet white onion, parsley, homemade curry roux
The Butter Truck had Japanese curry fries, which featured thin potato medallions with a lightly spicy curry sauce balanced by the cool sour cream.
Foolish Waffles - Pork Belly Bahn Mi Waffle
Coriander-black pepper glazed pork belly, pickled red cabbage, fresh cucumbers, jalapenos, cilantro, sriracha, Brussels waffle
My favorite dish of the day? Obviously the pork belly bahn mi. So much so that I went up again to get their sweet waffle (strawberry-rhubarb), but had to get another pork belly! The crisp Brussels waffle had a hearty sweetness that was the perfect counterpoint to the heft of the black-pepper glazed pork belly. The pickled red cabbage and the freshness of the cilantro and jalapeno helped to provide additional balance to the dish. No wonder Foolish Waffles won the Vendy Cup!
Pound Cake Heaven - Red Velvet Cake
Pound Cake Heaven had the most options of the day- seemingly with their entire bakery on display. I opted for the red velvet cake, which was moist, light, and redolent with the richness of cream cheese.
Sweet Lavender - Peach Cobbler
Sweet Lavender had a few options, including the peach cobbler. The crust was buttery, sugary, and flaky, revealing lightly spiced peaches that still had some bite.
Jimmies Cupcake Co - Ice Cream Sandiches
James Brown - Salted toffee brownie, caramel, vanilla ice cream
Jimmy Appleseed - Cinnamon dusted pie crust, sweet baked apple ice cream
Jimmies Cupcake Co had two ice cream sandwiches that were clearly popular. The James Brown was richly flavored with the toffee brownie and the caramel highly present. This was all tempered by the clean flavors of vanilla. The Jimmy Appleseed's pie crust was a bit doughy, but the star was the ice cream, which had the essence of baked apples. Yum!
Signature sea salt chocolate chip cookie, vanilla bean ice cream, Makers Mark caramel, Belgian salted chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, spiced candied pecans
Chef Jamie Landers of Luscious Bakery was previously a rocket scientist. And watching the appropriately named Spaceship Express Sundae being created was great fun. The soft sea salt chocolate chip cookie, the depth of the Makers Mark caramel, the Belgian salted chocolate sauce, the lightly spiced candied pecans, and the clean vanilla bean ice cream was the perfect melange of sweets. Likely a close contender for the Dessert Cup!
Undrgrnd Donuts - French Toast Donut
Maple swirl, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar
In the end though, Undrgrnd Donuts won the Dessert Award and with good reason. They had a duo on offer, which started with their french toast donut. With a beautifully cakey base, the flavors of french toast were packed into each bite.
Undrgrnd Donuts - The Homer Donut
Vanilla dunk, chocolate swirl, raw sugar, bacon
My favorite dessert of the day? The Homer. I mean c'mon. Everyone might be doing it, but when you've got perfectly crisp candied bacon on top of a flawless cake donut, you can't go wrong. Salty, sweet, savory, and succulent.
I'm assuming that everyone who's reading this post has some sort of love for food. And if that's the case, there's no reason at all you should forgo your chance to taste food glory at the 2016 Vendy Awards. So be sure to look out for next year's event. And in the meantime, get out there! Support the mobile food trend and check out your favorite food trucks - both old and new.
FTC Disclaimer: I received two complimentary tickets to the Vendy Awards. Regardless, all opinions are unbiased and mine alone.