Chefs & Managers

Invitation to Participate 2012:

Your restaurant has been invited to participate in this challenge, brought to you by Sacramento Vegan Challenge organizers Bethany Davis, Monica Biery & Maria Bardet, representing the Vegan community of Greater Sacramento.

The Challenge –to think outside of the “Meat Box”

Chefs at each participating restaurant are asked to create original vegan* dishes from at least three of the following categories:  Appetizer, Soup, Main Entree, and Dessert.   This year, we are adding a stand-alone Brunch category.  Some restrictions will apply (attached) to avoid common meal selections for vegan fare – and to encourage greater creative challenge among our chefs.   Additional subcategories will include Heart Healthy (i.e. lower fat/low oil), most Creative Presentation, etc.

*Vegan = all foods except:  eggs, dairy, cheese, butter, poultry, meat (including seafood) and honey

The contest will be publicized locally and featured via several vegan on-line community forums.  Your restaurant will be listed on all publicity materials as a participant, and linked on our featured blogs. Photos & bios of participating chefs, and photos of challenge dishes, will be posted as well. Updates will be documented via website blogs and social networking sites including those targeted to the vegan/vegetarian, health/wellness, and environmental awareness communities.

The dining public will be encouraged to eat at participating restaurants and vote (either in-house or via on-line survey) on their favorite vegan dishes in each of the categories.  The voting and publicity will be managed by our organizing team.  At the beginning of November, votes will be tallied and winners announced.  Restaurants with winning dishes will receive a certificate from Sacramento Vegan Challenge for display, as well as a variety of vegan-friendly prizes (cookbooks, etc.) and, best of all, many new loyal customers!

Behind the Challenge

Sacramento, especially midtown/ downtown, is renowned for its variety of savvy, contemporary, restaurant  establishments offering a diverse culinary selection and exquisite dining experiences. We are working to increase creative vegan selections that have been noticeably missing from the menus of several leading restaurants. There is a growing dining community who craves delicious and thoughtfully-prepared vegan meals, for a variety of reasons including health, environmental concerns, factory farm issues, etc.  Note:  By definition, all vegan food is lactose-free & cholesterol free; and (depending on preparation) generally considerably lower in fat and calories than dishes containing animal products.

For an increasingly health-conscious (i.e. following low fat/ low cholesterol, dairy-free or gluten-free diets) and environmentally aware public (who connect the consumption of animal products to greenhouse gas emissions), healthful vegan options will add greater choice and variety to any menu.  57% of all restaurant patrons “sometimes, “ “often,” or “always” order a vegetarian item when dining out (Zogby International).  Sacramento has the opportunity to support this trend by offering quality veg-fare for this ever-growing demand, which will not only appeal to the local vegan/ vegetarian community (approx. 2-5% of the general population), but to “flexitarians” (described above) and “locavores” as well!

Sacramento has just a handful of specifically vegan/vegetarian restaurants.  Many establishments generally limit their vegan choices to veggie burgers or gardens salads.  Since last year’s Challenge, many of the participating restaurants enjoyed an enthusiastic, loyal, new customer following based on their newly-added vegan menu offerings. Meanwhile, San Francisco & the greater Bay Area combined boast nearly 300 veg-friendly restaurants (including the highly-rated Millenium); Los Angeles has over 400.   Even Portland, OR has close to 200.   A quick glance at will showcase the number of vegan/ veg-friendly restaurants nationwide.

Next Steps

Once your participation is verified, we will begin the process of promoting the event and spreading the word to the greater Sacramento community, in anticipation of the October 1 launch of the event.  You will receive a certificate to display indicating your participation during the challenge.  We will follow up with you within two weeks.  In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.  Thank you for your consideration to participate in this Challenge!



Goal of the Challenge: 

Create an appealing, well-balanced, 3-course vegan meal to be included on your restaurant menu and offered to diners during the month of October, 2012.  *Additional stand-alone category= Brunch menu

  • Entrees (& brunches) should ideally reflect a well-balanced meal, including protein, sides, etc.
  • Each restaurant/ chef is asked to create & feature new, original dishes for this Challenge that are not already included on your existing menu.
  • The Challenge menu can be featured as a separate menu insert, added to your October menu, or otherwise displayed to your dining guests in a way that indicates that you are featuring a Vegan Challenge option.
  • It is acceptable to ‘adjust’ menus mid-Challenge in consideration of customer feedback, etc.

Vegan = all foods except:  eggs, dairy, cheese, butter, poultry, meat (including seafood) and honey  (many vegans do eat honey, but since some do not, we are including this on the list).

Also please avoid the following ingredients: whey, casein (milk proteins), albumin, gelatin, or glycerin (unless listed as plant-sourced).   Vegan margarine = Earth Balance brand.

Vegan primary protein sources = beans/ legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan, mushrooms, nuts, seeds & nut butters, quinoa, potatoes, greens, whole grains, etc.

“Forbidden Fruit”

There are several “default” dishes that appear in vegan cuisine.  We’re encouraging Sacramento chefs to be creative and expand beyond traditional fare, so we want to outline a few forbidden foods/dishes:

Category “Forbidden” Foods for this challenge:
  • Appetizer
  • Main Entrée
  • Dessert
French Fries, standard hummus, raw vegetable platters  veggie burgers, pasta marinara,                                     Standard chocolate cake (creative variations definitely ok!)

Resources for Chefs: We will email all participating chefs the link for a Vegan Restaurant Resource Guide to help you get started!

  • Resources & links will be available from our website effective September 1, 2012.
  • Please feel free to contact us for any additional questions or resources


  • Please RSVP to our organizing team by August 31st.
  • First 25 chefs to RSVP will be our official participants!
  • We are planning a Welcome Meeting for chefs/ managers/ servers to go over details on Sept. 10
  • We will begin advertising/ promotion & have website/blog site updated with links & resources by September 10.  Your restaurant will be included on all promotional materials.
  • We will be available for questions, clarifications, etc. and provide further resources as needed during August-September
  • We will solicit media interviews/articles throughout September & October.  (i.e. for Sacramento Bee, SacTown, Sacramento Magazine, Edible Sacramento, SN&R, Midtown Monthly, NPR, local news stations, etc.)
  • Please submit your menu ideas, with ingredients list, by Sept. 20.
  • October 1: Official Launch of 2012 Vegan Challenge!

Voting site will be open & monitored by our organizing team. 

  • October 31:  Last day of 2012 Challenge
  • November 1-5:  Votes will be tallied; winners will be announced by November 7.
  • Prizes & certificates will be awarded November 9-12, 2012.


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