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Friday
Jun122015

The Oscars of Street Food: Vendy Award Nominees Share their Top Craft Service Picks

Special effects artists prep actress Zoe Saldana for her performance in "Avatar."A smart line producer or unit production manager knows that well-fed laborers are worth their weight in gold. Luckily for film crews and actors alike, the craft services department has evolved from the early days of coffee and donut carts rolling around on Universal Studios' soundstage to a bottomless 21st century spread that could feed an entire army.

Burgers, sushi rolls and gelato are among the treats that hungry grips, members of the production design team, prop masters and other craftsmen are known to snack on in between meals. When you're hauling heavy (and expensive) equipment around for 10-14 hours per day, six days a week, in the middle of nowhere for months on end, what's on the menu at the craft service truck suddenly becomes more important than anything else. So where does one begin when choosing from the vast options that the mobile food industry has to offer? Fortunately for anyone with a healthy appetite, the 5th Annual Vendy Awards, happening this Saturday (June 13th) on the JFK Bridge in Philadelphia, has already narrowed down the go-to spots for crowd-pleasing cuisine.

Satisfy your tastebuds with Potato Salad at The Flying DeutschmanDubbed "the Oscars of street food," the Vendy Awards is a cook-off between area sidewalk chefs who battle for the glory of being voted as the Best in Street Food. You know when you see people lining up for seconds, these food trucks must be serving up something special.

I recently caught up with a few Vendys nominated cooks to get an idea of the type of movie sets on which they would love to provide sustenance for cast and crew. One look at the The Flying Deutschman, a truck where Stirling Sowerby serves German food, will have you reminiscing about the Pirates of the Caribbean fantasy film franchise.

Although Sowerby's slogan is "I am the Deutschman, I'm the one chasing the Dutchman across the oceans," this self-professed tech geek would travel back in time to carve out a place for himself on the set of James Cameron's fantasy adventure Avatar. "That movie finally opened the door to great 3D filming and I would have loved to see that in real life," says Sowerby, who would stick to a platter of his personal favorite -- Curry-wurst and potato salad -- when feeding those working on the Pandora universe. While Stirling knows his Sous Chef will get a fit, "there is something about having just the slightest bit of the Curry sauce on your fork when eating the Potato salad that really tickles my taste buds."

Let's hear it for Jamie Landers' Sage & Swiss biscuits for dinner and her Maker's Mark caramel sundae called the "Kentucky Gentleman," for dessert! Photo courtesy of Luscious Bakery.Luscious Bakery owner Jamie Landers' passion for artisanal, locally sourced treats oozes from a colorful, cafe inspired truck named "Marcia." As a former aerospace engineer who switched careers after 12 years, this award-winning baker would use her time traveling abilities to run craft services on the set of Ron Howard's adventure drama Apollo 13. "I admire the actors portraying the historic mission [and] it would be so interesting to be around the NASA historians and consultants on site," says Landers, whose sweet and savory Sage & Swiss cheese biscuits make the menu.

"I hand knead them so they are light and flaky, serve them warm directly from the oven with a drizzle of wildflower honey. They are a wonderful breakfast, lunch or snack; great for people working long hours on a movie set and want something warm and filling at any hour," continues Jamie. Possessing a deep love for rocket science clearly allows her to have the best of both worlds. "Most likely, I would try to sneak away from the food truck to play in the replica Apollo capsule," she adds.

Chicken and Waffles by Co-chefs Flo and Robin at Foolish Waffles.Dedicated to pushing the boundaries of traditional Liege and Brussels waffles, the ladies at Foolish Waffles aim to connect with people who crave super yummy treats. If chefs Flo Gardner and Robin Admana could go back in time, they would want to provide food service on the set of Richard Linklater's comedy Dazed and Confused.

"It looks like it was a blast to film and embodies who we are - free spirits that don't take life too seriously and try to have fun no matter what we do," says Gardner. As far as the menu goes, this Vendy Cup contender added "if anyone is going to enjoy our Fried Chicken and Waffles, it's Mathew McConaughey's David Wooderson. 'Alright, alright, alright!'"

Take a moment to consider how physically demanding (and in some cases, dangerous) the job of making movies is for people behind-the-camera who are expected to bring their A-game -- while operating under pressure in a chaotic workplace environment -- and you can understand why chips and dip just won't cut it. That's why the time has come to celebrate all that food trucks bring to our dining tables; on any given day, they keep your stomach from grumbling when you must be alert and operating at your very best.

*Get $10 off your ticket to the Vendy Awards using the code “STREETFOOD” on the Vendy website! Ticket purchases are also tax-deductible and proceeds from the event benefit The Food Trust, a non-profit organization that makes healthy, nutritious food accessible to underprivileged communities.

Photo by Mikey Ilagan

Come taste dishes from more than a dozen top chefs on the street food scene while enjoying craft beer, wine and voting for your favorite truck to help crown the best culinary wizards in town!

 

What's YOUR favorite meal of the day...breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Monday
Jun082015

It's NOT about the Pen! How 'The Wolf of Wall Street' Can Help You Win at Life

(l-r): Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio star in 'The Wolf of Wall Street.'Martin Scorsese's biographical comedy The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the wildest movies I've ever seen. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, there are useful lessons about greed, herd mentality, addiction, leadership and unethical behavior that can be gleaned from this film; which (aside from reminding me of the crime drama Boiler Room starring Ben Affleck, Giovanni Ribisi and Vin Diesel) is based on the memoir of former stockbroker Jordon Belfort who enjoyed an inflated version of the American Dream until becoming one of the FBI's (and the SEC's) most sought after white collar criminals.

Of all the takeaways from such a movie, there's potential for life to have greater wins than losses if you understand this simple principle -- it's NOT about the pen.

In one restaurant scene, Belfort, played by DiCaprio, asks a group of friends to sell him a pen. He also makes the same request to millionaire hopefuls, during a seminar later on in the movie. Both scenarios bring similar results of people attempting to win him over on various features this basic writing tool possesses. What most fail to recognize, save for his drug dealing buddy Brad's quick "supply and demand" comeback, is that their value proposition emphasizes the thing they're trying to market rather than the problems its end-user wants to solve. That approach is not the most effective way to get other people, especially strangers, to give you something of value -- in Belfort's case…that would be money -- in exchange for whatever it is you are offering to them.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in 'The Wolf of Wall Street.'Asking yourself what's in it for the other side makes a big difference between succeeding at getting what you want out of life and losing out on achieving goals. This is precisely how Jordan Belfort grew his brokerage firm in The Wolf of Wall Street; he kept the staff at Stratton Oakmont productive by playing on their individual desires for money, status, power, sex, drugs and/or related wants.

However, you don't have to be selling stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. to apply this one lesson to your own circumstances. Every day, there be times when your interactions with people involve some type of trade, whether that is for material goods, services, approval, validation, information, friendship, employment, romance, job promotions, support or other things you (and/or the other party) value. When those moments arise and you need to close the deal, remember that it's about figuring out if their needs or wants can be met with what you bring to the table, and if so, how can this be done. That is how you win.

Which scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street struck a chord with YOU?

When was the last time YOUR salesmanship skills were put into play?

Today's post about 'The Wolf of Wall Street' is written as part of my participation in June's "Movie of the Month" series hosted by The Large Association of Movie Blogs (#TheLAMB), for which I am a member. 

Monday
Jun012015

Monday Movie Meme – Slippery When Wet

You know it’s too warm and humid when you’re breaking a sweat without performing any tasks whatsoever. That sums up the majority of the last few days, which brings us to the theme for this week’s Monday Movie Meme; influenced by the spring showers that have finally graced the northeast today – bringing with it some much needed relief: Slippery When Wet.

Share on your blog or in the comments section, movies featuring scenes that contain rainfall. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a torrential downpour but there should be enough precipitation to warrant the use of an umbrella. Here are my selections for this week’s Slippery When Wet theme.

Road to Perdition

The bloody climax of this movie is filled with enough raindrops to fill a swimming pool. That’s all I have to say right now about this crime thriller (starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Daniel Craig) about a hitman who works for an Irish mobster. If you haven’t watched this film, I highly recommend it!

Twister

There is a rainy scene where two storm chasers are fighting in the middle of the road, which leads to a huge wakeup call for multiple parties involved, in this disaster flick (starring Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton and Philip Seymour Hoffman) about scientists trying to invent an advanced weather alert system.

The Notebook

One of the most epic on-screen kisses just so happens to take place when it’s raining, in this romantic drama (starring Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gina Rowland and James Garner) about two lovebirds from different sides of the tracks.

No Good Deed

It’s raining when a former district attorney gets a life-changing visit, in this crime thriller (starring Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba) about an escaped convict who wreaks havoc on a mother and her loved ones.

 

What movies come to mind when YOU think of rainy scenes?