Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge

Chefs & Managers

Invitation to Participate 2016: Celebrating Paul McCartney & Sacramento Meatless Mondays

Local restaurants are invited to participate in the 6th Annual Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, to be held Oct. 1-31, 2016.

Brought to you by Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge organizer Bethany Davis, co-organizer Monica Biery, and volunteers representing the Vegan community of Greater Sacramento in cooperation with the launch of Sacramento Meatless Mondays.

Our goal is to promote awareness of the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, and to encourage more healthful vegan menu options for Sacramento area restaurants.  This event is a fun, friendly ‘challenge’ among the participating chefs to create delicious, savory & nourishing vegan dishes for local diners to enjoy!

This Year’s Challenge:   

Goal of the Challenge:  Create appealing, well-balanced vegan menu options to be included on your restaurant menu and offered to diners during October 1-31, 2016.  

  • Each restaurant will choose how they would like to participate:  daily/ weekly featured menu items, special events, etc.  (Special events encouraged!)
  • Each restaurant should promote their participation in Vegan Chef Challenge via webpage/ social media listing of their featured menus/ special events.
  • Participating restaurants agree to feature vegan items throughout the entire month of October:  please notify organizers whether daily options –OR—‘weekends only’ options will be offered.  
  • Participating restaurants MUST provide a ‘complete’ vegan dining experience consistent with overall menu offerings (i.e. not just a ‘vegan soup’ or ‘vegan salad’ or ‘veggie burger’ ) 
  • Featured dishes may include: appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, small plates, main entrées, desserts, breakfast/ brunch options, 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:  i.e.  different from vegan options found on the ‘regular’ menu and different from vegan options offered year-round. 
  • *Oil-free, low-fat, and/or gluten-free options are encouraged (but not required.)
  • The Vegan Chef Challenge menu may be featured as a separate menu insert, added to your October menu, or otherwise displayed for your dining guests in a way that indicates that you are participating in the Challenge and featuring a Vegan Chef Challenge option.
  •  It is acceptable to vary or adjust menus mid-Challenge in consideration of customer feedback, etc.
  • NO VOTE CARDS this year(We will still hold a recognition celebration in Nov.)

*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 protein), 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 the preparation of dishes, and/or consider including an ‘oil-free’ or lower-fat option.

*Vegan primary protein sources = beans/ legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan, mushrooms, nuts, seeds & nut butters, quinoa, potatoes, greens, whole grains, etc.  *STARCH-BASED (whole grains, potatoes, etc.) is ‘the way to go’ in creating a filling meal!

*We encourage Sacramento chefs to be creative and expand beyond ‘traditional vegan fare,’ and to take advantage of bountiful local produce, apply a plant-based approach to ‘Farm to Fork’ ideal, etc. 


TIMELINE:    Please RSVP to our organizing team by September 25th.

  • 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 during September and up through the launch of the Challenge.  Please feel free to contact us for any additional questions or resources.
  • We will solicit media interviews/articles during September & October.  (i.e. Sacramento Bee, SacTown, Sacramento Magazine, Edible Sacramento, SN&R, Midtown Monthly, NPR, local news stations, VegNews, local bloggers, etc.)
  • Please submit your initial menu options, special event plans, etc. by Sept. 28th.
  • October 1: Official Launch of 2016 Vegan Chef Challenge
  • October 31:  Last day of 2016 Challenge
  • Prizes & recognition certificates will be awarded during the second week of November.

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 submit comments, photos, etc. of their favorite vegan dishes in each category.   We will send out our organizing team, volunteers, bloggers, and local vegan community organizers and media connections to enjoy the great dishes, and consider all of their reviews and input to help decide award recipients and winners in various categories.

In early November,  winners will be 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 five years, most of our 40+ participating Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge restaurants have enjoyed an enthusiastic, loyal, new customer following based on their newly-added vegan menu offerings.

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




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *