Inspired by the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, Santa Barbara area restaurants are running the Vegan Chef Challenge throughout October. The fun, friendly competition is a month-long event challenging participating chefs to create delicious, savory vegan dishes for all patrons to enjoy.
“Our goal is to promote awareness of the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle while encouraging more healthful vegan menu options at local restaurants,” said Beth Wettstein, a vegan since 2010, and the organizer of the Vegan Chef Challenge. “We hope to encourage everyone, not just vegans, to try out a dish.”
To participate, restaurants agreed to add a new vegan dish to their menu . To be considered vegan, ingredients must be free of dairy products, eggs, cheese, butter, meat, fish, poultry, whey, casein, gelatin, and glycerin (unless vegetable-sourced).
Restaurants are also required to offer the new menu item throughout the month that are different from vegan options found on their regular menu and are not available year-round. Oil-free, low-fat, and gluten-free options are also encouraged, but not required.
“Too often, the vegan option at restaurants is a salad or a veggie burger,” said Wettstein. “We want people to see that going vegan doesn’t mean giving up exciting, flavorful food.”
Participating restaurants include Satellite, Uncorked Wine Tasting and Kitchen, Chase, The Black Sheep, Daily Greens, Goleta Coffee Co, Sea Ranger Seafood Station, Padaro Beach Grill and Embermill. This year the challenge welcomes restaurants from the Santa Ynez valley including First & Oak, The Tavern at Zaca Creek, Normans at Sky View Los Alamos, Plenty on Bell, Succulent Cafe and Ellies Tap & Vine as well as Sea Ranger Seafood Station in Ventura.
Awards will be based on diner comments, photos, and the dining experiences of the Vegan Chef Challenge organizing team members. Chefs will be recognized at a special ceremony in November.
To learn how to participate as a restaurant or a vote as a guest, visit theveganchefchallenge.com/santa-barbara.