By Ryan Takakawa
Native Foods Cafe Guest Blogger
My love Susan Asato started entering cooking and baking contests a few years back, after we became vegans. Her goal was to do her part to help show that vegan food wasn't somehow weird or bland or otherwise unappetizing. To that end, she competes in open competitions against "normal" (that is, non-vegan) food. She wants to show that vegan food can compete and win on the merits of taste and presentation alone.
I'm very proud to say that she's had great success so far. As some people may have heard, in 2010, she won Best of Show at the Orange County California Fair, for her Vegan Coconut Lime Cake. This meant she won the two-layer Cake Category, then the overall Cake Division, then Best of Show against the Cookie, Pie, Bread, and other Division Winners. She beat out perhaps three hundred entries in all to win Best of Show.
As this year’s OC Fair approached, I gently suggested to her that perhaps she had nothing left to prove about the validity of vegan food – she’d already won Best of Show (not to mention two dozen or so other ribbons over the past few years); where could she go from there?
This year, she won ANOTHER Best of Show at the Orange County Fair! This time it was in the “Taste of Home” competition, for her Vegan Lasagna. She won not only the Entrée Division, but beat out a bunch of (non-vegan) desserts and other dishes as well.
Susan’s reason for continuing to enter these competitions, which makes total sense to me now, is that she feels it’s important to keep vegan food visible in settings where it may not be very common. She knows she can’t win or place every time, and she’s okay with that -- but for vegan food to have a consistent showing every year helps to show how “normal” (and good!) it really is.
Native Foods Cafe, vegan, vegan food, vegan restaurant, vegan lasagna