Sometimes, my timing is impeccable. I’m in a place and something AWESOME is happening. It. happened. to. me!
My good self is currently schlepping around in San Francisco (my adopted home). So, see this. I’m in town. I’m VEGAN. I’m up for some fun. I love food porn. I LOVE to bring YOU vegan awesomeness, AND show non-vegans how RADICALLY splendid the food is. VEGAN IRON CHEF SF, is on. I’m let through security. I pick up a bag of free chips and. I’M IN! Woo hoo!
How great. I am at the 1st annual VICSF. The San Francisco Vegetarian Society were hosting the San Francisco Bay-area edition of the Portland-born gastronomic vegan challenge. Karen Brighten Events masterminded the event. 3 much heralded, cutting-edge VEGAN chefs are competing. They are creating food for ALL tastebuds.
Eric Tucker – Executive chef, Millennium Restaurant
Philip Gelb – In the Mood for Food Catering
Lisa Books-Williams – Thrive Holistic. Raw-food chef
The timer began it’s count down from 45 mins. The SOLD OUT event had a rapt audience.
What followed was tinged with mayhem, excitement, drooling and much vicarious living through the tasting panel of judges. Who in themselves where the thing of worthy praise. Colleen Holland, Co-creator of the fun and info packed magazine VEGNEWS, Miyoko Schinner …. Queen of the vegan cheese and cookbook author, The co-founder of Upton’s Naturals & the owner of Hodo Soy Beanery, Minh Tsai. All Bay Area based businesses.
The camera man took his time to heat up, and finally bowed under pressure (from a heckling audience) to stop filming the compere and to SHOW THE FOOD, MAN! Finally, we got to witness these guys cooking up a storm. It was great to see them at work. They are used to high-pressure environments but I could see them running around in a flap. Good to know, the kitchen flapping ain’t just me!
The Competitors were allotted 45 minutes to prepare two courses of their choosing, consisting of an appetizer, main course, and dessert. They had to incorporate the secret ingredient. Revealed moments before the count-down began. TEA.
The compere gave out free prizes for silly/easy questions whilst the drama unfolded. which will be revealed just before they start. Meanwhile, guests can check out green and gourmand vendors and play a little trivia for prizes.
The theme was comfort food. Eric Tucker’s take was in a black-bean and barley burger, with green tea alioli and wild mushrooms cooked in a tea-infused oil. His tea infused, vegan beer was a delight for the judges!
Chef Philip served up fresh udon noodles in a tea broth. A Hodo Soy wrapped, tea-infused parcel. And for a touch of sweetness, a healthy vegan waffle with tea infused walnuts and macerated strawberries. All beautifully presented with edible flowers.
Lisa Book-Williams was a sweetheart. When asked about ingredients she listed them off and always ended…AND LOVE. You could see it in her execution of the three dishes she presented. ALL RAW. She even had special plates made for the occasion. A coconut broth. Cashew, carrot & celery coleslaw. A delicate dumpling. The wrapper made from dehydrated coconut meat and carrots. Inside she’d dehydrated tea leaves and then tied it all elegantly with a chive bud. A ginger, lime and agave dipping sauce was served on the side. Her dessert plate was a work of ART. Oh how I wished I could have run up and stolen a sampling right from under one of the judges noses. Or, better still, taken Lisa home with me! She had a raw cone filled with tea infused vegan ice-cream. A umebushi ice-cream palate cleanser and tea and cacao truffles. And a smile. Always a glowing smile.
As the timer clicked away and ingredients became culinary masterpieces, the chefs began to plate their creations. I then sat in a state of torture as I watched the four judges devour the chef’s final dishes. My imaginary taste buds had made up their mind who was to win. After the judging cards where whisked away and the final tallies totted up. The drumroll began.
The creative and inventive Chef Lisa Books-Williams was crowned the winner! She was genuinely shocked and VERY pleased.
It was a fun, if a little shaky due to it’s debut, event. Lots of happy faces. New frontiers of plant-based dining reached.
I hopped on my bike, and rode back through the city streets a very happy vegan! Will I be back next year? Oh, I bet my 100% cotton socks I will!