I also loved all the cookies, like these orange chocolate delights, from Picnic Bakery .
After the reception we got a little break from eating while the competition actually happened. Here, the chefs are hard at work. I loved watching them infuse the secret ingredient, tea, into all their dishes. It was also sweet to see the camaraderie between them and their obvious love for food and cooking. There was a lot of heart and soul in the food they created. Speaking of which
Chef Eric Tucker of Millennium Restaurant gave us this savory lentil burger with smoked mushrooms and green garlic green tea aioli as well as green tea gnocchi with yuba. The aioli was one of the best things I tasted all evening. Judge Colleen Holland of VegNews suggested he bottle it and I, for one, support that wholeheartedly. I totally thought he has this contest in the bag until...
Chef Philip Gelb of In the Mood for Food presented a deeply flavored broth and homemade soba noodles. He also made a green tea waffle that was my single favorite item of the evening, but I didn't get a good picture because I ate it too fast. :)
Lastly, Chef Lisa Books-Williams of Thrive Holistic , was the surprise winner of the evening with her all raw preparation. Hooray Lisa! It was incredibly tasty to be sure, but I'm pretty sure she beat the boys with presentation points. I'm also not sure how fair it was that so many of her items were made before the competition (those ice cream cones alone must have taken hours to dehydrate, but then again Eric Tucker baked his buns prior to competing as well, so...) but I enjoyed her plate - the umeboshi plum and green tea ice cream in particular.
All in all, my vote would have gone to Chef Phil, but this was basically a vegan love fest and I am so happy I attended. With any luck, this will become an annual event and I can stuff myself silly again next year!