The Bull City Vegan Challenge
will return to Durham for the fifth time in April, with chefs at ten downtown meat-centric restaurants creating specialty plant-based dishes that their menus will carry throughout the month, culminating in a competition decided by diners’ votes.
This year’s participants, all full-service restaurants, are:
Dos Perros, Parizade, Pompieri, M Kokko, Juju, Guglhupf, Counting House, Jack Tar Diner, Unscripted, and Grub.
At M Kokko, a joint known for its Korean fried chicken, you’ll be able to get Biang Biang noodles with soy-braised shiitake, ground tofu, blanched iceberg, cucumber, radish, black vinaigrette, and chili oil. Pompieri, the pizza spot, will offer a pie with a base of eggplant, house-made vegan mayo, house-made vegan mascarpone, sautéed arugula, minced red pepper, and minced onion, topped with fresh arugula, vegan mascarpone, roasted shaved fennel, and mushroom oil. Dos Perros will feature chile relleno
, a roasted poblano pepper with seasoned brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, topped with tomatillo salsa verde over a bed of black beans, with esquites tradicionales
—fresh corn off the cob, fresh lime, cashew cream vegan mayonnaise, with poblano and chile pepper.
The idea, says Leeanne Siart, who organizes the Challenge, is to not only showcase Durham eateries and proselytize a plant-based diet, but also to show “how popular and in demand vegan options are,” and thus encourage restaurants to keep their on their menus year-round. This happened after Guglhupf participated in the Challenge in 2016.
“They were blown away by the enthusiasm and decided to have at least one vegan option on every menu,” Siart
It’s not just vegans that crave vegan options, she adds: “Of the people that go out to eat and participate in voting afterward, only less than half self-identify as vegan or vegetarian. Everyone wants to have plant-based options.”
The competition has three categories: Best Overall Entree, Best Appetizer, and Best Use of Theme, which this year is sustainability—things like sourcing from local organic seasonal produce and not using plastic straws.
The chef who wins Best Entree will receive a two-night staycation at the Unscripted hotel. Other local companies donating prizes include Green to Go, Global Breath Studio, Seven Stars Cycles, Bulls of Durham, Crossfit Durham, Bull City Records, and The Pinhook.
The Challenge kicks off on April 1
. Arcana will host a kickoff cocktail party
—featuring, naturally, a specialty vegan cocktail—on April 4.