I'm dat crunk vegan! Ha! Tonight, I took part in my very first cooking competition — a gumbo contest. I entered my Tempeh Gumbo from Cookin' Crunk in the Tennessee Equality Project's annual Mardi Gras Celebration and Gumbo Contest. TEP is a state-wide organization that fights for LGBT equality.
Locally, they convinced the Memphis City Council to adopt LGBT-inclusive workplace protections for city employees last year. And they're currently fighting some anti-gay bills going through the state legislature, like the nationally infamous "Don't Say Gay" bill that would ban discussion of homosexuality in Tennessee schools.
Every year around Mardi Gras time, TEP holds this gumbo contest. I had the only vegan (or even vegetarian) gumbo this year, so I was up againt all sorts of meaty stuff. Here's my team table. We were called Who Dat Crunk Vegan? (a reference to the popular "who dat?" New Orleans Saints support chant).
I'm not sure how many people came through and tried my gumbo for the People's Choice Award, but I went through two gallons (and only left with about two cups of leftovers). The bar where it was held — Earnestine & Hazel's — was so packed that people were crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder. I only had to explain what "vegan" meant to about two people out of the hundred or so who tried my gumbo! Most people were super excited to try a vegan gumbo.
Here's what all went into my gumbo:
And here was the end result:
I didn't place in the awards, but that's okay. I was up against a lot of meat in a room full of meat eaters, but what's important is that the event raised money for TEP and I exposed some people to vegan food for the first time! Who dat?!