It rained ALL MORNING on Saturday, and it was unseasonably cold with temps in the 50s. The fest was outdoors, but the rain and cold didn't keep the vegans away! Most of the vendors showed up despite the fact that they had to set up their tents and tables in the rain. When the fest opened at 11 a.m., a crowd quickly gathered. And many of those people stuck around in the rain and cold all day. The rain eventually let up around 1 p.m., but it was still cold and wet. Yet most vendors sold out of food and gave away all their samples.
My demo was supposed to be at 12:30, but they couldn't set up the speakers and mic equipment until the rain let up. And since I knew I could stick around all day, I told Angel to just put my demo wherever she needed, and I ended up taking the 3:30 spot at the end of the day. That gave me more time to hang out with friends and eat ALL THE THINGS.
My first stop was the Lucky Cat Ramen booth. They're a vegan-friendly ramen pop-up that typically sells at The Cove on Sundays and Memphis Made Brewery on Thursdays, but I keep missing them when they're there. I couldn't wait to try their vegan Roasted Corn Miso Ramen!
The broth was definitely the best ramen broth I've ever had. There are a few places in town serving vegan ramen, but Lucky Cat definitely wins!
After ramen, I grabbed a beer — Memphis Made Fireside — from the TapBox beer truck and a Vegan Banana Pudding from the folks at Southern Veggie Cuisine. They were selling banana pudding cups and vegan tamales! Sadly, I was so stoked to eat that pudding that I failed to take a picture. I did, however, get a pic of Simon and Jennifer eating their Black Bean Tamale.
Later in the day, I also got a tamale. By then, she was out of vegan cheese, but that was just fine. Looks messy but tasted awesome. It was stuffed with black beans and tofu.
Her tamales and pudding were VERY popular. She had the longest lines all day.
Zaka Bowl was there with free samples. They had Brown Rice & Chickpea Bowls. I added their Sweet Curry sauce.
Replenish Kombucha was the primary sponsor for the fest, so I had to have some while I was there! Here's their Hibiscus Kombucha.
Phillip Ashley Chocolates had a sample booth. Phillip Ashley Rix is a local chocolatier who creates these gorgeous, hand-crafted, hand-painted chocolates. Not all of his chocolate is vegan, but he has a vegan truffle collection that I've been lucky enough to receive as a gift from Paul before. So good! Anyway, Phillip was there selling his vegan praline truffles (I bought a box!), and he had samples of vegan chocolate bark. This Hot Ass Chocolate was created with locally made Nikki's Hot Ass Potato Chips. The combo of dark chocolate and spicy/salty chips was amazing.
I caught a couple of food demos throughout the day. Brandon Thomas of Guilt-Free Pastries showed us how he makes his Vegan Granola, which is by far my favorite locally made granola. It's got a base of mixed nuts rather than oats, and it's loaded with other good stuff like coconut oil, goji berries, and pumpkin seeds.
I also watched the folks at Mama Gaia demo their quinoa and veggie bowls. They didn't have samples to hand out, but they gave the full bowls they created out to a couple lucky audience members to polish off. Megan got the Copia Bowl (arugula, antipasti veggies), and I helped her eat it!
Hanging with Don and Kenzie and Megan!
And then, finally, at 3:30 p.m., I went onstage! I demo-ed my Tofu Eggless Olive Salad from Cookin' Crunk.
After my demo, they announced the winners of the vegan challenge cook-off, in which local home chefs went up against restaurant chefs in a cook-off. Mama Gaia won first place in the entree category, but I can't remember who won the dessert competition. And then it was time to go home and dry off!
Memphis VegFest was a great success, and I'm so proud of Angel and the other organizers for pulling the whole thing off and persisting despite the awful weather! Can't wait 'til next year!