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Vegan Chef Challenge: Try it!

One of our very favorite things to organize is the “Bull City Vegan Challenge” — a month-long contest where chefs at different restaurants compete by creating a vegan dish and offering it the entire month. Customers try the dish and vote on the best.  It’s a great way to increase exposure and demand for plant-based foods, promote your local restaurants for their efforts, and get media engaged.

We have had such a positive response, including questions about how to organize a Challenge in other cities, that we are now sharing the “how to” with you.

Below, you will find a video we created to get chefs excited about the “why” of participating in a challenge, an infographic detailing how YOU can set one up, and resources including questions we usually ask on our “voting” survey.

Here we go!

Why Challenge?

This video will explain all, in about three minutes.

For full screen view, click here.


Share our three-minute video with potential participants (chefs, restaurants, media).

Take a quick look at our Vegan Chef Challenge Infographic (pdf) for a brief overview of organizing a Challenge (or just scroll the infographic below):

Vegan Chef Challenge final Infographic

Thanks to Piktochart for the handy free infograph software!

Resources to get you started

Examples of other Challenges

How to help restaurants: Create a chef and server guide

Chefs are busy. Restaurants are busy.  In some cases, they do not have the time to explain the challenge to the staff, who then pass on this confusion to customers who are there to participate. Avoid this problem by creating and printing a server guide for managers to share with their staff (in staff meetings or otherwise).  Let them know how the Challenge works and what they should expect.

You can download this “chef and server guide” that we used in 2014 and copy/customize to your own Challenge!  Here is the Word document: Chef and Server Guide.doc or the PDF: Chef and Server Guide.pdf.

How to manage voting: Create a free survey

Voting is your right, and the Challenge is no different! Though it may be tempting to put off enabling voting until the end of the month when people have had a chance to try all the restaurants, we’ve found this only decreases participation. Encourage people to vote throughout the Challenge by giving the link to your voting survey as much as possible, and providing a “prize” pack for one lucky randomly selected voter.

We have used several free survey tools — to date, not SurveyMonkey since they only allow 100 responses.  SurveyGizmo works wonders, providing great reports based on your data.  Check it out.

Read our sample list of voting/survey questions in this PDF Voting Survey from the Bull City Vegan Challenge here.  Remember, you do not want to make the survey too difficult to take, but you do want to get data that will help you inform future participants and shape future Challenges. Also, it’s a great way to share information about your target demographic with the press/media. For instance, we were surprised to learn that over half of the voting participants were not even vegan or vegetarian!  Great news, since this means there is a higher demand for plant-based foods.

After the contest, you can use the same software to create a short feedback survey for the chefs, helping you improve future challenges.

Organizers of the 2010, 2012, and 2014 Challenges
From L-R, Eleni & Shirle (Derek Anderson); Eleni and Lena (Jennifer Vroom); Eleni and Leeanne (Ruth Eckles)

From L-R, Eleni & Shirle (photo by Derek Anderson); Eleni and Lena (photo: Jennifer Vroom); Eleni and Leeanne (photo: Ruth Eckles)