News

Veggie Conquest Vegan Cooking Competition

Gear up for an evening of tasty culinary competition as aspiring veg chefs go head-to-head.

From county fairs to television cook-offs, would-be chefs across the country display an unflinching desire to be judged. While most competitors ultimately fade back into the safety and obscurity of their home kitchens, a crucial demographic is conspicuously lacking from the start: where are all the veg chefs? While vegan eating recently played a supporting role on Top Chef Masters, as embodied by the lovely Zooey Deschanel, the animal-free crowd is ready for a challenge all our own.

Look no further than Veggie Conquest, the explosive, strictly-vegan cooking competition straight from the brain of tofu-fueled foodie Jessica Mahady. The NYC-based contest kicks off August 22, providing a fun and exciting platform for amateur chefs to showcase their creativity and culinary skills. With secret ingredient challenges, all-star judges, and the promise of a delicious meal, chefs and spectators alike can expect a stellar show. VegNews caught up with Mahady for the inside scoop on the nation’s next cooking craze.

VegNews: Tell us about Veggie Conquest.
Jessica Mahady: Veggie Conquest is an amateur cooking competition in New York City, and you can sign up as a chef or a taster. Chefs create an original recipe based on a secret ingredient that’s revealed a week before the event. They prepare their dish at home and bring it to the event to be judged and devoured.

VN: What inspired you to start the event?
JM: Veggie Conquest started as an idea I had for a potluck. I talked with friends about it, and the idea grew. Before I knew it, I was planning a full-on cooking competition with a website, fabulous judges, and several tickets sold. We vegans like competitive cooking, too. Also, I think we’ve got to keep showing that vegan food can be much more than twigs and berries.

VN: Who can be involved?
JM: Anyone! Though we do ask that chefs at the competitions should be amateurs. If you’re a food industry pro, you can be a judge or taster, or compete later in our professional challenge. We have so many foodies in NYC. I think all foodies love a good healthy competition. Non-vegans should see it as an extra challenge, a way to push their skills and expand their palates. We want to show non-vegans that vegan food can be easy to make and taste fabulous, too.

VN: You have some pretty impressive judges for the first challenge: Joshua Katcher, Brian Preston-Campbell, and Kathy Patalsky. How did you get them involved?
JM: Yes, they’re fantastic! I just sent each a nice e-mail explaining what we are doing and how we would love for them to be involved. They didn’t need a lot of convincing. They share the love for good food and competition.

VN: What are the criteria for a winning dish?
JM: A chef wins by having the highest combined score from the tasters and the judges. The winning dish must be original, be vegan, feature the secret ingredient, and be finger-lickin’ good. Winning chefs will get fantastic prizes donated by local restaurants, grocers, or kitchen supply stores.

VN: How frequently do you hope to have the competitions?
JM: We are striving for every month. It might not be the normal amateur competition every month, though. For example, our upcoming professional challenge might feature a restaurant chef competing against a cookbook author!

More News

Vegan Company to Appear on Shark Tank Friday Night

Vegan honey company Bee Free Honee will appear on popular reality TV series to seek investment.
Read More »

Field Roast to Be Sold at Publix Grocery Chain

Meat alternative Field Roast now available at Southeastern US supermarket chain.
Read More »

Dart the Dolphin Dies at SeaWorld

Performing dolphin is the third animal to die at the aquatic park in three months.
Read More »

McDonald’s Launches Calorie-Bomb Kale Salads

New “Keep Calm Caesar On” kale salad has more calories and sodium than a Double Big Mac.
Read More »

Petition Launched Demanding Vegan Hershey's Kisses

In Defense of Animals is making the case for Hershey’s to offer a dairy-free version.
Read More »

This Week on VegNews TV: The secret to these delightful sweet treats is white beans! Aylin Erman shows you how to make these simple blondies.

More Videos »