Chili cookoffs are a national tradition — a chance to indulge of three of America’s favorite things: chili, competition, and eating outdoors.
And with beans as the main ingredient, chili is the perfect candidate for veganizing.
That’s the premise behind the Bean Scene 2015 chili cook-off in Lake Worth this Saturday, where all chili will be cruelty-free and all proceeds will go to charity.
The cook-off was the brainchild of Nina Kauder and Sarah Steinberg. The two met at the Annie Appleseed conference, an annual event dedicated to alternative and complementary treatments for cancer. The two became friends and, as vegans, are always seeking out new options for plant-based eats.
“Sarah and I agree that we’d love to have more restaurants with more options,” says Kauder. She hopes the chili cook-off shows local eateries that there’s a market for vegan food and that even nonvegan restaurants will start adding more veg-friendly options.
All funds raised at the event will benefit the Community Caring Center in Boynton Beach, a 501c3 group that helps more than 2,500 struggling families each year by offering food, nutrition education, financial assistance, and all kinds of other benefits.
Making this event even more timely, the CCC was recently dealt a tragic blow when a break-in left them without any computers, printers, phones, or any other tech equipment.
The CCC is also home to the Secret Garden Café, an onsite restaurant that also serves as a culinary incubator. The café will be participating in the cook-off as well.
All in all, the Bean Scene isn’t just a chili cook-off — it’s also an animal adoption event and vegan lifestyle festival.
There’ll be multiple rescue groups onsite with adorable pups and kitties available for adoption, plus vendors like Luscious Desserts selling raw vegan treats, Common Grounds offering coffee options, and Greek Goddess serving vegan spanakopita and spreads. Attendees will get to learn a little more about a plant-based lifestyle, all while tasting delicious eats.
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come, says Kauder — omnivores, herbivores, and everything in between. And even if you can’t attend, buying a ticket is a nice show of support for the CCC.
“I don’t need to convert anyone, but I do believe that none of us are eating enough vegetables, even vegetarians,” says Kauder. “I say what i practice is vegetable husbandry — creating creative vegan dishes.”
Kauder and Steinberg are excited about the event’s impact.
“We get jazzed each time somebody else either agrees or approaches us. It’s a little nuts right now but so much fun! We’re both just beyond excited,” says Kauder.
As far as the chili contest is concerned, cheftestants (as Kauder calls them) include Mother Earth Sanctuary Café with a black bean mushroom chili, One Kombucha with a raw vegan chili and ’booch, Lakou Zazou with a Haitian vegan chili, New Vegan with both raw and cooked chilies, Chef Green Raw with vital chili and Rasta-inspired foods, Secret Garden Café with a vegan Southern chili, plus Grommets Tavern, Suri, Judy’s Wine & Cheese, and 4th Generation, all with vegan chili varieties.
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Attendees will get to vote for their favorites and a People’s Choice Award, plus second and third place will be decided by audience vote. Judges will be on hand to decide on a Grand Prize winner.
“We’re not looking to create any money for ourselves; we’re doing this as a charitable effort,” adds Kauder. “For us, the win-win is bringing a little more vegan into the world, especially when it’s our neighborhood.”
There’ll also be an afterparty at Benny’s on the Beach, the event’s grand sponsor, all in celebration of the chili cooker extraordinaire.
Admission is $15 (plus fees) in advance via Eventbrite, or $15 at the door, and that includes samples of all the vegan chilies entered in the contest. $10 discounted admission tickets can be purchased at Rolando Chang Barrero Fine Art Gallery at 711 Lucerne Ave., Lake Worth. The event runs from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at Lake Worth Cultural Plaza. Visit beanscene2105.wordpress.com.