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!

 Comments

More News

Vegan Beer and Food Festival Returns to Los Angeles

Tickets are on sale now for the the annual festival at Southern California's Rose Bowl.
Read More »

Animal Activist and Simpsons Co-Creator Dies

Passionate animal advocate, Sam Simon, passes away after giving away millions to animal organizations.
Read More »

Ringling Bros. to Eliminate Elephants from Circus

Citing growing public concern, elephants will no longer be part of the circus.
Read More »

Indian State Bans Consumption of Beef

In landmark legislation, the sale and consumption of beef has been banned in India's second largest state.
Read More »

Vegan Street Fair Comes to Los Angeles City Streets

Annual outdoor food festival takes over Hollywood streets.
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 »