The third installment of Veggie Conquest took place this past weekend and it was another smashing success.
In case you missed the introductory blog post, Veggie Conquest is an amateur cooking competition similar to Top Chef… except that it’s not televised. Oh yeah, and it’s ENTIRELY VEGAN! The event is held monthly, and you can buy a chef ticket in order to be part of the competition or a taster ticket for an excuse to stuff your face. There are generally about six chefs participating and sixty-five tasters in attendance. One week prior all ticket holders are notified of the “secret ingredient” and course to be prepared so that menus and taste buds can be primed.
This time around it was cranberry dessert and the submissions were incredible. Though not normally a big fan of cranberries, I was surprised to find how sweet and delicious they were incorporated into such delights as “Double Cranberry Cinnamon Oatmeal Nut Bar,” “Almond Crusted Chocolate Cranberry Mousse,” “Cran Velvet Cake,” and the inventive (and winning) “Rice Crepe with Cran-Ginger Sauce.” I was not as much of a fan of the raw submission, “Cranbanapple Parfait”; the texture was too much like a runny pudding for my taste. Neither was I impressed by the “Swedish-Style Charoset,” submitted more as comedic performance art than recipe contender.
Per usual, while the votes were being tallied from the tasting portion of the evening, all guests were treated to a second course of assorted dishes prepared by the event’s plentiful volunteers. This time, Match Meats provided an array of products to be used in the recipes and Raw Ice Cream Company was on hand to give everyone a taste of their offerings.
Thus far, each event has been presided over by the creator of Veggie Conquest, Jessica Mahady, and emceed by the incomparable Joshua Katcher, The Discerning Brute. The friendly volunteers keep the night running smoothly, and a live DJ is on hand to set the mood with music. The judges vary but have included chefs, cookbook authors, writers, restaurant owners, etc. I was a little disappointed this time around, however, that the judges were quite harsh on the contestants. They came across as nit-picky know-it-alls and that doesn’t fit with the friendly and communal veg atmosphere Veggie Conquest works so hard to achieve. Hopefully future judges will keep their criticism constructive and will be more encouraging, as has been the case at previous events.
Overall, I find the cost of the tickets to be a steal for a full evening in a beautifully decorated space featuring countless tasty goodies, great company, and door prizes. Sign up for their email notifications or follow them on Twitter so you will know as soon as the tix for the next event go on sale; they are limited in number and don’t last long.