Makansutra: Eating In New York

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Makansutra, September 20, 2015

by KF Seetoh

I was taken on a food and heritage spin around Brooklyn, “to places where tourist would look out of place” ironically by Cindy Vandenbosch, founder of Turnstile Tours (www.turnstiletours.com), and her husband Andrew Gustafson, offering a range of tours and have 7 guides under their fold specialising in different fields, including food. A chunk of their profits goes to the Vendy folks to support their efforts in protecting the livelihoods of the migrant food cart vendors.

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Cinnamon Snail Debuts Cookbook, Rolls Out Food Truck Tonight at Powerhouse Arena

Just over two months ago, Adam Sobel of The Cinnamon Snail – one of New York City’s most popular food trucks and the reigning Vendy Cup champion – made the shocking announcement that they would be calling it quits from the streets of New York. Cinnamon Snail had won four Vendy Awards for their big, bold, vegan flavors, garnering long lines at lunch time no matter what neighborhood in the city they parked.

So why did they pull the plug on this hugely popular food truck? Adam discussed the decision with Grub Street, and recently he appeared on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show alongside Street Vendor Project director Sean Basinski. In short, Adam expressed his frustration with the current permit system for mobile food vendors in New York City.>> Continue reading

Our Day at City Hall: Council Approves Package of Street Vendor Measures

As promised, Wednesday was an inspiring day, the culmination of years of hard work and campaigning by our partners, vendors, and friends. Though a seemingly small piece of legislation was approved by the New York City Council (and it’s not law yet, as the mayor has promised to veto it), it is something that will have a real impact on the lives of thousands of workers in this city, and the proceedings brought attention to important issues that usually get little public notice.

Our team members Cindy VandenBosch, Rich Garr, Andrew Gustafson, and Brian Hoffman were on hand for the session, though we saw them from slightly different vantage points – Cindy and Rich, from inside the City Council chamber, amidst vendors and supporters; Andrew and Brian, from the sidewalk outside the City Hall gates, then Andrew from an office computer via streaming video.>> Continue reading

City Council Set to Vote to Lower Fines on Street Vendors

Wednesday is a big day for New York City’s street vendors.  After months of stalling, the speaker of the City Council (and mayoral candidate) Christine Quinn has finally promised to bring to a vote legislation to reduce and simplify fines imposed on vendors.  This vote comes after years of campaigning and lobbying by the Street Vendor Project, including months of plastering posters with Speaker Quinn’s face on carts across the city to pressure her to call the vote.>> Continue reading

Street Vendors Need Lower Fines, Not Shake Downs from City

Visitors standing in front of food cart in winter

A small item in the mayor’s draft budget that was released today caught our attention, because it may have big impacts on the street vendors we work with. Mayor Bloomberg wants to try to collect the millions of dollars in unpaid fines issued to vendors, and he wants to do it by spending $580,000 of city money on lawyers to pursue these so-called scofflaws. What he fails to grasp is the reason why so many fines go unpaid – it’s usually due to poverty and discrimination, not disrespect for the law (read more about this proposal on Gothamist).>> Continue reading

Food to Eat Hosts a Downtown Relief Food Crawl

Our friends at Food to Eat, an online ordering service for food carts and trucks, have been very involved with both street vendors and restaurants – from both a business standpoint and as advocates. This weekend they’re helping out many restaurants who suffered losses and damages from Hurricane Sandy.

Their Downtown Relief Food Crawl will take place this Saturday, November 17 from 12pm to 4pm. Participants can purchase tickets online here or at a registration location on Saturday. Food crawlers will receive a map of the participating venues, including East Village favorites like Maharlika, Prohibition Cupcakes, and Cafecito, where they can sample one of their specialty food or drink items. After many hours of eating and drinking, an after party with entertainment will commence at Kafana from 3-4. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the venues to help them with their business recoveries. For more information on this delicious and worthwhile event, check out their Eventbrite page.>> Continue reading

Food Trucks Helping Communities Recover from Sandy

Wafels and Dinges truck in New Dorp

As we all know by now, the actual wind, rain, and storm surges from Hurricane Sandy this weekend were only the beginning. Thousands of people have lost their homes, and whole swaths of neighborhoods have been destroyed. As the weather gets colder this week, it’s more important than ever for those without shelter and power to get hot meals.

Thanks to the New York City Food Truck Association, along with generous help from JetBlue, a number of New York’s best food trucks have been able to provide hot meals to people in need, despite gas shortages and limited road service. Last week, trucks started appearing to donate food to the neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan that were still without power, and they served over 20,000 meals. But as news reports started coming in about the massive devastation in areas like Staten Island and the Rockaways, the food trucks turned their engines to the communities that needed it most.>> Continue reading

Turnstile Tours at the 2012 Vendy Awards [Video]

As a street vendor we know likes to say, “Food is love.” If that’s so, then the Vendy Awards are a massive, jubilant, gut-busting celebration of that love. Each year, vendors from across New York City are brought to Governors Island not so much to compete, but the share their food and stand up for their rights (though winning the coveted Vendy Cup is a big, big deal – just ask the winners). The event’s sponsor, the Street Vendor Project, which provides advocacy and legal services to vendors, tries to bring together vendors of all backgrounds – humble, immigrant-owned carts from the outer boroughs stand beside slick, high-flying gourmet trucks. And everybody spends the day eating until they can hardly move.>> Continue reading

New York Food Trucks Battle Boston Food Trucks This Weekend

The first ever Food Truck Throwdown is happening this weekend in Boston. Some of our favorite trucks, including Wafels & Dinges (which is featured on almost every single one of our food cart tours) are heading down to Beantown to have a friendly food fight with some of Boston’s most popular food trucks.

The match will occur at Dewey Square on the Greenway from 11am-9pm this coming Saturday, October 13. Admission is free and live music will be playing throughout the day.>> Continue reading

Celebrate Jackson Heights with Jeff Orlick and the 82nd Street Partnership

Our good friend Jeff Orlick, who runs food tours in Queens, is working with the 82nd Street Partnership to organize a free festival in Elmhurst/Jackson Heights on Friday called Viva La Comida! The event will showcase the exciting diversity in the community and celebrate the food, music, craft, and culture of the area.

In addition to live entertainment and a pop-up craft market, many local small businesses will be selling their goods. Jeff has handpicked a number of food trucks and carts to participate. The options will range from the famous Arepa Lady (one of my favorite food carts in the entire city) to Patacon Pisao (a Vendy award nominee in 2010) to this year’s Vendy nominee Morocho (which serves delicious Peruvian fusion food) to the elusive and unique Chipper Truck (which sells Irish food from a truck!) There were also be two of Jeff’s favorite Mexican food vendors: Tacos la Familia and El Coyote Dormilon.>> Continue reading