This stuffed potato food truck could take home the "Best of New Jersey" VENDY Award.
The potato is humble no more.
Hunger Construction, New Jersey’s one-of-a-kind stuffed baked potato food truck, is rolling into Brooklyn next month as a nominee for a VENDY Award.
Aaron Rosenzweig, the owner, born and raised in a Conservative Jewish household in New Jersey, decided to share his love of baked potatoes with New Jersey eaters after he was laid off from his job selling medical devices in the spring of 2012.
“All of a sudden the opportunity sort of presented itself,” Rosenzweig said, adding that it was his mother’s encouragement that he enroll in a “street vending 101” course at the Urban Justice Council to learn the rules of the food truck road. “She insisted, sign yourself up right now,” he recalled. She paid the fee and told him to consider it an early Chanukah present.
Potatoes are a prominent ingredient in Jewish dishes – knishes, cholents, kugels, and latkes -- to name a few, but Rosenzweig, who identifies as a Reform Jew, said his fondness for spuds isn’t rooted in his Jewish upbringing.
“I just love potatoes,” he said.
Rosenzweig believes that potatoes make excellent street food because they’re convenient to eat while walking.
“My philosophy for street food is you shouldn’t use utensils, just eat them like burritos. That’s very important to me,” Rosenzweig said. “There’s little waste and its very conducive to walking and eating.”
He started out selling his signature “cement mixers,” which is what he calls heavily stuffed potatoes, offering them in a variety of topping combinations such as “cheesy street” and “fast lane.” In November, 2012 when he introduced his line of “flatbeds,” potato pancakes with topings, he introduced forks and knives to the truck.
"The theme is pretty easy to stick with. It gets corny at times, some of the puns we use, but it’s all fun,” he said.
One of the most challenging parts of the job is hollowing out the potatoes, he added. Rosenzweig uses a power screw driver to drill into the potato and hollowing it with a vegetable corer.
On September 7, Rosenzweig will be driving his truck to Brooklyn for the VENDY Awards. His truck is nominated in the "Best of New Jersey" category, a brand new category introduced this year.
The VENDY Awards, now in its ninth year, serves as a fundraiser for the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation and advocates for marginalized New Yorker street vendors.
"We’re definitely super excited to be invited and put our best stuff forward and see what people think," Rosenzweig said.
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