Are you a chef competing in the Vegan Chef Challenge? If so, you are in the right place. Here are some resources to help you get started and inspired.


Past Winning Dishes

For some inspiration here are the winning dishes for the past vegan chef challenges:

  • 2023 Kalamazoo Best Entree: Tofu Marsala by Comensoli’s Bistro
  • 2023 Yolo Best Appetizer: Karrage Oyster Mushroom by Bones Craft Kitchen
  • 2022 Albuquerque Best Dessert: Tres Leches Cakes by Tia Mama’s Cocina
  • 2022 Stockton Best Sandwich: Thai Grilled Cheese Sandwich by The Downtowner
  • 2022 Albuquerque Best Breakfast item: Hazelnut Chocolate Croissant by Blue Door Patisserie
  • 2019 Santa Barbara Best Entree: Kabocha Squash Ribs by Uncorked Wine and Kitchen

You can also check out our page of Recipes.


Vegan Alternatives

Vegan food refers to all foods that are not derived from animals—vegan food should NOT include eggs, dairy, meat, fish, shellfish, and honey. Originality is encouraged! Vegan meat and dairy substitutes are great to use in your dishes.

Here are some substitutes to make your dishes vegan. First, check to see if your food distributor has any vegan options. Many of these products can be found in most large markets and online. Here are some popular brands you can find anywhere.

Vegan Meats | Vegan meats include burgers, hot dogs, deli slices, bacon, sausage, chicken-style cutlets, nuggets, and strips, ground meat, and jerky. Popular brands include Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Tindle, Sysco, Field Roast, Sweet Earth, and more.

Seitan | Seitan [SAY-tan] is wheat protein—it’s meat-like and very hearty. It’s available ready-made in the refrigerator and freezer section, or as a dry bagged mix. It is also very easy to make your own.

Seafood | There are now many new seafood alternative brands such as Good Catch, Sophie’s Kitchen, and more. 

Tofu | Firm or extra firm tofu can be stir-fried, scrambled, baked, broiled, grilled, or stewed. Firm silken tofu is very delicate, but looks like egg whites. Soft silken tofu has a custard-like texture, which makes it a great substitute for dairy products in dressings, dips, spreads, and sauces.

Tempeh | Tempeh is another hearty meat alternative, made from fermented, whole soybeans. It works great for recipes that traditionally call for ground meat, such as tacos or chili. It can also be used in sandwiches and salads, and even as a bacon alternative.

Non-Dairy Products | Vegan dairy alternative products include cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt, butter, and coffee creamer. Popular brands include Earth Balance, Follow Your Heart, Daiya, Miyoko’s, Kite Hill, Oatly, and more!

Egg Alternatives | The most popular brand of vegan eggs is Just egg,  it comes in a folded form or as a liquid substitute you can use this for tofu scrambles, quiches, or baking.

Other baking alternatives include:

  • 1⁄4 cup unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana, soy yogurt, or blended silken tofu
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water


How to Incorporate Vegan Options on Your Menu

After the challenge is over, we recommend adding popular Vegan Chef Challenge menu items to your permanent menu. Please add vegan dishes to your main menu without being in a separate Vegetarian/Vegan section. According to a study from the London School of Economics and WRI Better Buying Lab, “Diners were 56% less likely to order a vegetarian dish when they were segregated into a special “vegetarian” section of the menu.” Incorporating vegan options into your menu this way makes the vegan options appealing to everyone, not just vegans.

Naming Vegan Options

According to this Guardian article naming menu items makes a big difference, instead of naming items as a “Vegan Burger” naming them “Meat-Free Burger” is more appealing to all diners. Check out this article on ideas how to successfully market your items.