The Vendy Awards is one of my favorite events of the year not only because I get to eat amazing things, but also because it’s an opportunity for the community to recognize the incredibly talented people who sell the most delicious food out of trucks and cards — and in markets!
So I am THRILLED to give you the exclusive first look at the 13th Annual NYC Vendy Award Nominees in the Market Vendor Category! Drum roll, please…
Best Market Vendor Award Nominees for 2017:
Jhal NYC is a collaboration of two cousins who grew up in Queens Village — Mahfuzul Islam and Alvi Zaman. Jhal employs Bangladeshi immigrant women, mostly stay-at-home mothers, to build community, combat social isolation, and put them on the path toward higher education. Jhal seeks to popularize Bengali street food and foster pride in Bengali history and culture. While selling at several markets, Jhal in expanding its catering business, with the hopes of opening a food truck soon. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.
Joon (a term of endearment in Farsi) is the lovechild of Jessica Spiegel and Amir Alerasoul of the Upper West Side. Jessica, an architect from Florida, met Amir, an investment analyst originally from Tehran, eight years ago. Last year, during a trip to Amir’s homeland, they cemented their plan to start their Persian food stand at the Queens Night Market. They are hoping to make up for the relative lack of Persian food in NYC by teaming up tahdig (crispy rice) with savory stews. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
What’s the Dillaz is the husband-and-wife team of Jesse Vasquez and Marilyn Hernandez, both born and raised in LIC, Queens. Jesse went to culinary school and now works as a chef at Mom’s Kitchen & Bar in Astoria. Marilyn is a paralegal who is combining her love of the law with entrepreneurship. Their Reuben quesadilla – and other specialties – have been a hit since they started selling, along with their two young daughters, as LIC Flea last summer. They are on Instagram and Facebook.
The Malaysian Project is made up of four friends and roommates who live in Middle Village, Queens. Calvin, Abraham, Carlos and Bryan all went to culinary school together near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They reunited years later in New York and, in 2016, decided to launch the Malaysian Project, profiling the tastes of their homeland. Following their debut last year at Vendy Plaza, they are at Queens Night Market, winning raves for their Malaysian-style hamburger. Check them out on Instagram.
Tramezzini NYC was founded by two brothers from Venice, Italy – Filippo and Massimiliano Paccagnella, who teamed up in 2016 with their friend Davide Pedon to bring to the US traditional cone-shaped sandwiches using soft, crustless bread imported directly from Venice and high-quality ingredients. After getting their start at Smorgasburg, the team recently opened a brick-and-mortar on East Houston Street. You can also visit them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Tickets for the 2017 Vendy Awards are available now, but they sell out quickly. So get your tickets today! And maybe start working out a little more to prepare yourself for all the delights that await us on September 16th on Governors Island.
~Karen Seiger, Markets of New York City