What does it mean to be a great chef? For decades, high-end restaurants and cooking shows have rejected plant-based foods, but vegan cuisine is finally getting a well-deserved place at the dinner table. This week, Top Chef Canada created its first-ever plant-based episode, challenging attendees to experiment with vegan recipes. Montreal chef Camilo Lapointe-Nascimento impressed the judges by taking first place with a cucumber granita with white chocolate ganache, white chocolate crumbles and grilled cucumber.
“This season, our party will focus on a food philosophy at the forefront of some of the best restaurants in the world,” Eden Grinshpan, Top Chef Canada host, said in the episode. “It’s Top Chef Canada’s vegan feast.”
Top Chef Canada invited Amanda Cohen, the founder of New York’s Michelin-rated vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy, to judge the vegan feast challenge. Cohen judged the vegan feast with AND Canadais Cheryl Hickey. This episode — aired during the show’s tenth season — asked chefs to create as many plant-based dishes as possible in a 30-minute time slot. The showrunners provided vegan chefs with popular plant-based products from Upfield, including vegan cheese from Violife and margarine from Becel.
“Chefs in the running for Top Chef Canada continually push the boundaries with creative dishes, and it was a pleasure to see the judges’ reactions to all of the menu items they came up with for this first-ever Vegan Feast Elimination Challenge,” said Shoshana Price, Chief Marketing Officer, Upfield Canada. VegNews. “Camilo’s cucumber granita with white chocolate ganache was so inventive, and we were delighted to see how integral Violife Original Creamy was to this recipe, with Becel’s vegan butter included as well.”
Lapointe-Nascimento won the $5,000 courtesy prize offered by Violife and Becel. In the final round, Lapointe-Nascimento faced other contestants whose plant-based dishes included rolled cabbage with rice, pine nuts, raisins and tomato sauce as well as cauliflower with a caramelized cipollini sauce, green onion vinaigrette and hazelnut onion cream. .
“The talent we see this season of Top Chef Canada is truly impressive – a testament to the incredible culinary scene in Canada,” continued Price. “Overall, the show is a fantastic way for Canadians to recognize how versatile Violife and Becel’s dairy-free products are for a wide range of recipes, with endorsements from top chefs.
Primetime Vegan Culinary Hits
Until recently, cooking contests rarely featured competing plant-based cuisine, and judges almost never gave vegan dishes proper credit. Now, several major TV shows have started introducing vegan competitions and, more importantly, vegan chefs on popular competitive shows are giving plant-based dishes a shot. In July, even Gordon Ramsay revealed that he “really loves vegan food” on an episode of Chef, challenging his competitors to cook him a wellington roast beet.
Last May, Ramsay first actively recognized plant-based chefs when he invited vegan and vegetarian contestants Josie Clemens and Emily Hersh to participate in the “Young Guns” season of Hell’s Kitchen.
Last January, chef Bobby Flay was beaten in his own kitchen by vegan chef Tamearra Dyson in an episode of Defeat Bobby Flay. Dyson wowed the judges with a seitan-based double-decker burger served with dairy-free cheese and fresh pickles.
A new era of plant-based cooking shows
While well-established cooking competitions have begun inviting plant-based chefs into the kitchen, several plant-only competitions are starting to heat up. TikTok superstar Tabitha Brown has announced that she will help The Food Network usher in a new era of cooking shows. It’s CompliPlé created as the first vegan cooking competition, featuring four chefs preparing dishes based on the judges’ food preferences.
This month of September, Pele debuted on UnchaniedTV’s new streaming service, featuring an all-vegan cast of judges, hosts and contestants. The four competitors competed to prove their cooking skills to an impressive panel that included Chef Chris Tucker, Dr Miles Woodruff, Elysabeth Alfano and Chef Clemens – the first vegan chef to compete in Hell’s Kitchen.
“We are thrilled to make history as the first Peeled streaming platform,” said Jane Velez-Mitchell, Founder and CEO of UnchainedTV. “The show sparks interest in compassionate, healthy, low-carbon lifestyle choices that our audience will appreciate.”
For more plant-based events, check out The Beet’s News articles.