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Vegan Sausage Platter Wins Bronze Medal in Professional Competition

09/14/2015 02:17pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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vegan charcuterie individual plate serving photo courtesy of Chef Ron Pickarski

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Vegan Bronze and AAC Plate photo courtesy of Chef Ron Pickarski

On August first I was a visiting chef at the Waldrof Astoria Hotel in Orlando, Florida where I competed for the first time since 1996 in a professional culinary competition sponsored by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The ACF created a special vegetarian cold platter category knowing I would be the only one competing. Professional chefs don't fully understand how to creatively cook nor the full culinary potential of vegan proteins nor how to make a crystal clear vegan gelatin. The American Culinary Federation sees the vegan market growth and seeks to expose its membership to this new evolving cuisine.

The presentation took a bronze due to not having time to practice the presentation. Had I the time I could have won a gold. The two important factors are winning a medal for the credibility of the cause and exposing chefs to this new evolving cuisine. It captured the attention of all the judges. I had never done anything like it and they had never seen anything like it. We both received an education. The presentation self-taught me new vegan preparation techniques in charcuterie, motivated me to create a vegan gelatin, and opened the minds of many chefs. In the midst of all the meat competition stood this vegan sausage cold platter making an exquisitely beautiful culinary statement.

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vegan charcuterie cold platter photo courtesy of Chef Ron Pickarski

Preceding the competition I was invited to prepare and serve two vegan courses at the ACF's Academy of Chefs Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria for 400 chefs and guest. One course was an Italian meat ball with Sweet & Sour Balsamic Sauce (hors d'oeuvres) and the second was the appetizer course consisting of a Pâté Francias with Cranberry Port Vinaigrette, field greens and French Crouton. I worked on the dinner all Friday and Saturday, and went into the competition immediately after that working through the night to present at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning with the assistance of a former Culinary Olympic team member. Many unsolicited very positive remarks is an indicator the food was well received.

Recipes for the dinner courses and competition came from my recent self-published cookbook titled "The Professional Vegetarian Cookbook for Professional Chefs and Inspired Cooks". All of the recipes in the cookbook are designed as culinary innovation platforms for professional and personal cooks to use as is or build on them. The dinner courses were from the book as is and some were modified for the cold platter. That is how classical cuisine works (i.e. the mother sauces or force meat pates). My approach was to use that same classical format with vegan cuisine and the presentation proved it successful in both the dinner courses and cold platter. The recipes are easy to prepare and approachable by chefs or personal cooks who know little or are experienced in the cuisine.

You can learn more about the cookbook on Eco-Cuisine's website.