Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge

Chefs & Managers

Invitation to Participate 2015:

Restaurants are invited to participate in the 5th Annual Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, to be held Oct. 1-31, 2015. Brought to you by Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge organizer Bethany Davis, and volunteers 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, or Salad; Main Entree; and Dessert.  There will also be a stand-alone Brunch category, and new this year, a Bar Menu category.  Some restrictions will apply (attached) to avoid common meal selections for vegan fare – and to encourage greater creative challenge among our chefs.

*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, blogs & social media promotion.  Participating restaurants will be listed on all publicity materials, 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 dine at participating restaurants and vote  via on-line survey) for their favorite vegan dishes in each of the categories.  Voting and publicity will be managed by our organizing team.  In early November, votes will be tallied and winners announced.  Restaurants with winning dishes will receive a certificate from Sacramento Vegan Chef 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, California’s drought situation, factory farm issues, etc.

By definition, all vegan food is lactose-free, egg free & cholesterol free; and (depending on preparation) generally considerably lower in fat and calories than dishes containing animal products.  By offering healthy vegan options, you will be supporting diners who for health reasons (including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight management, diabetes, heart disease, etc.) are concerned about their intake of dairy, fat, or cholesterol and/or are following special diets specifically limiting these foods.

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 and extreme water usage), 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 supports Sacramento’s ‘Farm to Fork’ campaign, 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.  Over the past four years, most of our 36+ participating Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge restaurants have enjoyed an enthusiastic, loyal, new customer following based on their newly-added vegan menu offerings.

Nearby, San Francisco & the greater Bay Area combined boast nearly 300 veg-friendly restaurants (including the highly-rated Millenium); Los Angeles has over 400.   Portland, OR has close to 200.   A quick glance at showcases the number of vegan/ veg-friendly restaurants nationwide.

It’s time for Sacramento to join the A-list of veg-friendly communities.

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 poster to display indicating your participation during the challenge.  

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 October 1-31, 2015.  *Additional stand-alone categories= Brunch menu; Bar 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 the pre-existing menu.
  • The Vegan Chef Challenge menu may 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 participating in the Challenge and 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).   Watch out for whey/ milk/ skim milk in chocolate, baking mixes, etc.

We encourage you to minimize use of oils in general.  (Please see attached explanation.)

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

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
French Fries, standard hummus, raw vegetable platters        pasta marinara,

Resources for Chefs:

  • Resources & links will be available from our website September 25, 2015.
  • Please feel free to contact us for any additional questions or resources


  • Please RSVP to our organizing team by September 18th.
  • First 16 chefs to RSVP will be our official participants!
  • We will begin advertising/ promotion & have website/blog site updated with links & resources by September 25th.        Your restaurant will be included on all promotional materials.
  • We will be available for questions, clarifications, etc. and provide further resources as needed
  • We will solicit media interviews/articles throughout  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. 25th.
  • October 1: Official Launch of 2015 Vegan Challenge!                                                                                                                       Voting site will be open & monitored by our organizing team. 
  • October 31:  Last day of 2015 Challenge
  • November 1-9:  Votes will be tallied; winners will be announced by November 10th.
  • Prizes & certificates will be awarded

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