Gallery: Meet Vendy Awards Rookie Finalist Sweet Chili Truck

The Sweet Chili Truck crew
The Sweet Chili Truck crew

Lisa Fernandes, the owner of Sweet Chili, with her current crew on the truck. Chef Fernandes found her sous chef, John, via the usual Craigslist job board. He fulfills one key job requirement: the ability to rock out to '80's hits in the middle of lunch service.

20130820-vendy-rookies-sweet-chili-primary.jpg
20130820-vendy-rookies-sweet-chili-primary.jpg
Meet the truck
Meet the truck

Their '68 Chevy previously lived on Long Island and has acquired the name "Betty White."

Lunch at the World Financial Center south lot
Lunch at the World Financial Center south lot

Upon opening, Chef Fernandes decided to join the New York Food Truck Association, a by-membership street food advocacy organization, partly to have access to their designated lunch lots. This cuts down on the need to find new parking spots every day.

A peek at the cupboard
A peek at the cupboard

One of Chef Fernandes’ signatures is using flavors from mass-market ingredients—American and Asian alike—to create her dishes.

Lunch regulars
Lunch regulars

Though the truck is just a few months old, it's already acquired a loyal following. On a typical day at their Thursday World Financial Center spot, the line forms right at noon and doesn’t let up until after 2 p.m.

The entertainment
The entertainment

John manning the grill station, quite possibly about to break out into a dance move.

Meat on the griddle
Meat on the griddle

Strips of marinated sirloin hitting the flat top grill give off coriander-scented trails of smoke.

Pork belly in the fryer
Pork belly in the fryer

One of the truck's most popular dishes is the fried pork belly. The team is already considering a larger fryer to keep up with demand.

Freshly fried
Freshly fried

Right now, a double batch of fried pork belly might keep up with customer demands on slower days.

Garnishing green papaya salad
Garnishing green papaya salad

The green papaya salad swirls long strips of green papaya with carrots, long beans, and cherry tomatoes before being garnished with chopped peanuts.

Spicy caramel pork platter
Spicy caramel pork platter

After coming out of the fryer, the pork belly is covered with one of Chef Fernandes’ own creations: spicy Vietnamese caramel, which even makes the accompanying bean sprouts appealing.

Heavenly beef platter
Heavenly beef platter

Every dish is balanced with a salad and Jasmine rice. Here the “Heavenly Beef” gets a quick topping of Sriracha and a sprinkling of Thai basil. It's served alongside an order of cool, crisp green papaya salad.