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.
Dubbed "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."
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.
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.
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?