BRIDGEPORT — The vendors named as finalists for the inaugural Vendy Awards have made their names cooking a range of street food that reflects the diversity of the city itself.
There are chicharrones and chocolate pancakes, tamales and tikka.
Bridgeport will send two of its finest culinary offerings — savory meat pies from Pleasant House Bakery and schnitzel sandwiches from the Schnitzel King — to the inaugural competition and fundraiser from 1-5 p.m. Saturday at Kendall College, 900 N. North Branch St.
Both businesses have brick-and-mortar restaurants in addition to their roving food trucks: Pleasant House is located at 964 W. 31st St.; Schnitzel King is located at 308 W. 33rd St. near U.S. Cellular Field.
For Pleasant House, participation in the event caps off a year that’s seen the expansion into Michigan and the launch of a brewery, plus extended hours and a new delivery service.
The growth, said co-owner Chelsea Jackson, "is incremental when you're a small operation like this," she said.
Competition for the title is expected to be fierce.
Schnitzel King and Pleasant House are up against the pollo almendrado of Lawndale’s Pascuala’s Specialties, gourmet grilled cheese and fries from Schaumburg’s Toasty Cheese, Mississippi Delta Hot Tamales from Austin, sweet and savory pancakes from the Babycakes truck, chicharrones and shaved ice from Olga’s Snacks in Little Village and portable Indian food from Bombay Wraps.
Complete descriptions of the vendors are available at the official Vendy's website.
Tickets are available at the official event website and cost $48 through Friday and $58.50 after that. If it doesn't sell out, tickets will cost $60 at the event. Admission for children 8-12 costs $37.50 online; kids 8 and under are free.
Tickets are good for all-you-can-eat items from the food trucks, plus unlimited beer and soft drinks.
A panel of judges will determine the city’s best vendor, while ticketholders can cast their ballot for the people’s choice award.
Billed as one of the “greatest food events in all the land,” the Vendys began in New York City in 2005 as a street food throwdown and fundraiser, all conducted with a nod to the vendors serving hungry customers every day. It’s hosted by the Street Vendor Project.
The Vendys have since grown to other U.S. cities , including Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New Orleans.
This year’s installment in Chicago will serve as a fundraiser for Slow Food Chicago and Asociación Vendedores Ambulantes, a grassroots organization that fights for fair regulation of street vending businesses.