Spring 2011 Symantec Dutch Oven Cook-Off

FINALLY! Here is the post about the Dutch Oven Cook-Off I participated in at work this week. It was supposed to be last Friday, but due to what seems like never ending rain it was postponed until this Thursday.

So on Thursday Ben and I trucked out our Dutch oven stuff to my office around 10 am. Ever body else was already there and some people had even spend the night in campers and trailers. For those of you who don’t know much about Dutch oven, it usually entails some kind of huge piece of meat cooked for hours and hours, often overnight.

Anyway, we showed up and set up our little dutch oven on the little table that was ready for us and did some cooking! Everything went super smoothly and it was fun to socialize with all people I work with and tell them I was making a vegan pot pie. As you can assume, it stirred a lot of interest and people were curious as to what was in it, how we made it, if we were vegan, etc. The most common response to me telling them it was vegan was “so…does it have tofu?” LOL! I loved that people were trying to figure out what vegans could eat and tofu was the only thing they could come up with. It was kind of cute actually, because everyone was super nice and not like in your face about it. More just confused as to how a vegan pot pie was even possible. So, I enlightened them to the ways of seitan and vegan ‘meats.’

Ben and I made this pot pie recipe. It is simply decadent. Basically it is a mixture of pot pie veggies and some kind of faux ‘chicken’ covered in a FABULOUS thyme and sage gravy, covered with a flaky whole wheat crust. YUM! For the cook-off, we used this ‘chicken’ seitan recipe cut into little cubes.

People cooking

Around 11:30 the tasting began. Basically the cook-off was a big contest. Everyone from our two buildings came down and taste tested all of the dishes. Then they voted for best main dish and best dessert and the people who won got Dutch ovens and cooking tables and things. Within the first thirty minutes or so the people on my team came down to support me and try my vegan food. All of them know I am vegan, but this was the first time they got to see for themselves that vegan food could actually taste GOOD. They all were pleasantly surprised. In talking with them after, they were generally impressed with my use of spices and the great texture of the seitan. (SUCCESS!)

Of course, people I didn’t know taste tested my dish too. In fact, quite a few did. The cook-off went through 2,500 tasting cups over the course of an hour and a half! That’s a good number of people tasting stuff! Anyway, Ben and I were thoroughly entertained by having people try our vegan dish. I tried really hard not to tell people what it was until they had picked the sample up, because those that I told first were less likely to try it–their faces with loosely concealed confusion and grossed-out-ness at a vegan dish. But those that I told once they had it seemed resigned to their fate. They had it in their hand, and I was looking at them, so they HAD to try it. And I was so glad to see the majority of people pleasantly surprised.  Tons of people asked what was in it (the tofu thing again, lol) and how I made it. I got a lot of “that’s actually pretty good.” And that’s all I wanted. I was so happy people were trying it and realizing that vegan food isn’t gross or weird and that vegans are normal people too. We even ran out of sample half an hour early, which I thought was awesome!

The sucky thing about the day is that Ben and I couldn’t try hardly anyone else’s dishes. We did get to try a vegetarian chili and an AMAZING accidentally vegan raspberry cobbler (below). The raspberry cobbler actually went on to win first place dessert :D.

When it came around to counting up the votes, we knew there was no way we could win. I was excited to see I actually had about five tickets in my jar, but I suspect these were my team members 🙂 🙂 The beef bourguignon went on to win first place main dish, sadly. But maybe in the fall Ben and I will give them a better run for their money! All in all, I’m just happy we were out there, spreading the word about veganism and vegan food.

My jar at the voting table–isn’t that a great picture of me!?

2 thoughts on “Spring 2011 Symantec Dutch Oven Cook-Off

  1. hi meggie – i know i don't know you very well but i have a raw food question for you, girl. have you noticed eating less cooked foods that you have been less stressed or anxious or depressed? i've been in india the past few months and will be here for another few months so i can't go completely raw, but i am thinking about cutting back on cooked foods as a way to curb my anxiety. aaanyway. any information on this?i love your blog by the way.

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