Restaurants in Durham, North Carolina, (USA), have risen to a challenge from local campaigning group, Triangle Meatless Monday.
Throughout February, six restaurants in the town are competing to produce the best meat-free dish in the Bull City Vegan Challenge. Diners will be photographing their meals, posting comments online and voting via the Triangle Meatless Monday website. Categories will include best overall dish, best looking dish (or “love at first sight”), best deceptive ingredient and best dessert.
One of the organisers of the challenge, Eleni Vlachos, said that many people who would not normally opt for meat-free meals were taking part in the competition, and that people felt more confident about trying meat-free meals when they were served at restaurants they already knew and trusted. She said that the challenge is “a way to get chefs to put on their creative hats”.
The chefs who choose to compete are expected to create some spectacular-looking dishes which symbolise love. All the food is vegan, and each dish must include a surprise ingredient or technique.
Matt Ladrie, chief operations manager at the Hummingbird Bakery, said that falling back on staples was not an option. “You just have to be a little more inventive in the kitchen”, he said. The bakery’s chef, Amy Tomquist, has a reputation for “elevated Southern food” but “really wanted to do something that was a little more unique” for the competition. She is planning a dish of Asian Tacos with Burmese Chickpea Tofu – an interesting change from traditional tofu made from soya beans.
Other dishes on offer across the town include Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Cakes with Smoky Guacamole; Polenta Lasagna with Basil Pesto and Grilled Vegetables; Thai Lettuce Wraps; and Chile en Nogada with Mushroom Ceviche.
Visit the Triangle Meatless Monday website for more details.