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Desiree Riley is a community activist, professional networker, and philanthropist from the City of Brotherly Love. She has founded a number of organizations including The Mastermind Cooperative, Kwēn: League of Extraordinary Women, the International Society of Black Professionals, and YBHonline.com. These organizations are designed to connect innovative & progressive artisans, merchants, professionals, and performing artists from marginalized groupings. In 2009, Desiree graduated with two Bachelor’s Degrees from The Ohio State University. While attending OSU, Desiree conducted research in Ghana, West Africa which she granted the opportunity to present at the Denman Research Forum as well as the Council for National Black Studies Conference in Atlanta, GA. Prior to her time at OSU, Desiree was a student scholar at Grambling State University in Louisiana; which she departed shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Desiree possesses a strong desire to uplift the community, a true thirst for knowledge, and a high level of integrity, which allows her to share experiences from the most genuine place possible. As the mother of an 8 year old son, Desiree understands that true service begins in the home. When she’s not out trying to save the world, you can find her enjoying vegan cuisine and relaxing tunes with her closest loved ones!

Recap: The Vendy Awards Showcase Philly’s Top Food Truck Talent And Benefit The Food Trust

On Saturday, June 14, 2014, the The Vendy Awards was back in Philadelphia by popular demand at Penn Treaty Park.  Commonly coined “The Vendy’s,” it is the first competition of it’s kind for street food starting 10 years ago in New York City as a fund-raiser for street vendors.  The Vendy’s  have since spread to Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Chicago, as well as Philadelphia, where the contest is in now its fourth year. 

One of the many long lines at The Vendys (Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

One of the many long lines at The Vendy’s. (Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

Nominees are selected by public submissions, and winners were determined after a panel of five fierce female judges cast their votes.  The panel included Felicia D’Ambrosio of Federal Donuts, CookNSolo Restaurants; Lily Fischer  of Cake Life Bake Shop; Danya Henninger  of Zagat, Philly.com, and Philly Beer Scene Magazine; Ann Karlen of Fair Food; Nicole Woon of Penn Appetit and Lily Cope served as Emcee, COOK.  After all votes were tallied, the Pie Stand was crowded victor of the Vendy Cup.  The People’s Choice award winner was The Cow and The Curd, The Rookie of the Year went to Oink and Moo BBQ and the Best Dessert award was given to Bonjour Creperie.

(Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

(Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

The Vendy’s became an intense cook-off between the most popular sidewalks chefs in the city as well as a fundraiser to support culinary entrepreneurs and the sustainable food movement.  Local foodies have witnessed a food-truck boom in Philadelphia, as the national movement has grown substantially over the past few years.  The Vendy’s reportedly sold out 750 tickets for Saturday’s event which featured trucks offering tacos, quesadillas, mac & cheese, crepes, BBQ, delicious ice creams, and so much more.  The Cow and the Curd also delivered their fresh fried cheese curds, landing them the People’s Choice Award for the second year in a row.  

Curbside Creamery (Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

Curbside Creamery offering some of the best tasting ice cream in the city. (Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

For only $55 guests were able to eat food from all the finalists while enjoying an unlimited fill of beer and ciders. Admission fees go to the cost of operating the festival, and any additional profits benefit  The Food Trust, the non-profit organization behind the Night Market events over the last two  years.  For over 20 years, The Food Trust has been working to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions.

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Rob Mitchell, Owner of The Cow & The Curd, passionately speaking about my product with a long line of anxious tasters.
(Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

“We are absolutely thrilled to be celebrating all the culinary diversity the Philadelphia food truck scene has to offer for now four consecutive years,” said Sean Basinski of the Urban Justice Center. “Philadelphia is such a vivid example of a place that embraces everything we stand for, part of which is assist the entrepreneurial spirit and rights of the hard working people who create outrageously inspiring curb-side cuisine for the masses on a daily basis.”

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Cheese E. Wagon giving away pork, chicken, and veggie quesadillas. (Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

Occurring annually, The Vendy Awards benefit the non-profit The Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center.  The Street Vendor Project is a membership-based project with more than 1,800 active vendor members who are working together to create a vendors’ movement for permanent change.  The Urban Justice Center, a non-profit organization that provides legal representation and advocacy to various marginalized groups of New Yorkers.

Some attendees relaxing while others venture toward new food truck options (Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

Some attendees relaxing while others venture toward new food truck options. (Photo Credit: Desiree Riley)

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