Due to the precarious nature of their business, New York City street vendors’ livelihoods are dependent on knowing and exercising their rights. In this virtual program, we will look at examples that illustrate how vendors navigate the city’s legal and regulatory environment, including the complex permitting process. We also examine how street vendors have engaged, historically and today, with the political process through collective action and advocacy, and explore how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting vendors and the industry as a whole in the current moment.
Street vending has been a part of New York City’s public life for hundreds of years, often taken up by newcomers to the country and New Yorkers excluded from the formal economy, as a means of starting a small business. For this special virtual program, Cindy VandenBosch and Andrew Gustafson will explore street vending history from the 19th century to today and examine how the city’s physical, culinary, artistic, and legal landscape has been shaped by vendors. We’ll also be joined for a special visit from street vendor MD Alam, calling in from his food cart Royal Grill Halal Food to share with us how his business has survived during COVID-19.
This program is fundraiser for the non-profit Street Vendor Project, a project of the Urban Justice Center, and is not part of our ongoing Virtual Program series or included in our Membership program
We are pleased to welcome back food photographer and writer Dave Cook of Eating In Translation to discuss a family of fascinating cuisines. Many of us might not have had the opportunity to enjoy the food of Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, or Ghana; these and many more can be found throughout New York City. Dave will share his mouthwatering photos, walk us through different dishes, and let us know where we can try them in all five boroughs.
The Vendy Awards were an annual celebration of the best street vendors in New York City hosted by the Street Vendor Project, a project of the Urban Justice Center. It was by far our favorite day of the year, full of food, friends, and a celebration of the vibrant vendor community. After 15 years, the Vendy Awards took its last bow in 2019. To look back on the previous ten years, our resident foodie Brian Hoffman will reminisce with Matt Shapiro, the Legal Director at the Street Vendor Project, about the winners, the food, and the evolution of the local street food scene during that time.
Ten years ago our very own Brian Hoffman embarked on a journey to discover the most iconic foods in New York City. In addition to creating videos and articles on his blog Eat This NY, he spent years writing for local publications like Midtown Lunch and Gothamist. During that time he ate, explored, and documented the stories and places in New York to get the most iconic slice of pizza, the freshest bagel with cream cheese, and the juiciest delicatessen sandwich, among other specialities. Join him for a look back at his favorite places in the city and to learn about why certain dishes have become such important cultural icons.
Many fairs, festivals, and food bazaars, rooted in culinary traditions from all over the world, have been postponed or cancelled this spring. New York-based photojournalist Dave Cook will lead a virtual tour through all corners of the city to look at the past, and the future, of these beloved events. Since 2005 his website Eating In Translation has explored lesser-known food in the five boroughs of the city and, occasionally, farther afield. Dave’s work has also appeared in The Art of Eating; Culinary Backstreets, The New York Times, Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City, and many other publications.
When Essex Street Market opened in 1940, it was heralded as a new era for commerce, as the city promised to clear the streets of pushcart peddlers and provide a clean, orderly space for shoppers. Many former street vendors set up shop in the new market’s 475 stalls, but New Yorkers lamented the loss of the pushcarts that had filled the streets of the Lower East Side for nearly a century. Together with the Tenement Museum, we’ll explore the evolution of the market itself and the stories of the vendors who made it their home. The history of the Essex Street Market and its businesses have always been a reflection of the immigration and migration to the Lower East Side and during this virtual visit, we’ll meet vendors of the past, and drop-in live to the new Essex Market to talk with its vendors of today.
For nearly 20 years, Adel El Nagar has been serving food of his native Egypt on the streets of New York. Known for his made-to-order falafel, his cart Adel’s #1 Halal was recognized as one of the best in the city when it won the 2017 People’s Choice Vendy Award. Join this conversation with one of the city’s most beloved halal street vendors as he discusses his journey, his food, and his successful street vending business.
Ariel Barbouth was born and raised in Argentina and came to New York City with his wife Leni in 2009 with a dream: to bring traditional Argentine empanadas and make them mainstream in the US. Since then, their company Nuchas has opened kiosks, launched Vendy Award-winning food trucks and carts, opened an empanada factory, and soon they will be shipping direct to consumers nationwide. Ariel will discuss his exciting journey in the food industry, from formulating recipes to scaling manufacturing, being a street vendor to pitching on Shark Tank.