In January 2012, Veggie Grill flew a small group of vegan Portland-area bloggers down to LA to show us the inner-working of the vegan fast-casual chain, planning on an upcoming expansion to Portland.
Jess, Michele and I spent the whirlwind weekend getting to know the founders and owners of Veggie Grill, eating double our weight in Veggie Grill food, and learning about the ethos and ingredients that make Veggie Grill so successful. It’s no secret that the people we met, and the food we tried, led us all into a Veggie Grill love affair. Veggie Grill paid for the trip expenses, but the transparency and genuineness of our interaction with everyone involved is what really impressed us.
Well, that, and the fact that Daryl Hannah was apparently sitting right behind us in the Santa Monica Veggie Grill, and we only realized once Jess got home and looked at her photos.
When we visited Austin for location scouting earlier this year, we knew we had to visit Capital City, Austin’s amazing vegan bakery owned by Kristen Davenport.
The cart has since moved, and a brick and mortar bakery is currently in the works. She makes the best best best treats, and donated ridiculously good brownies to this year’s Galarama. I’m pretty sure everyone in Austin knows about this place already, but if you don’t, do your mouth a favor and get down there.
Here’s Jess and Michele picking out their treats:
And a sweet romantic cookie and mouthwatering cupcakes:
One of the venues we were cautiously optimistic about when location scouting in Chicago was the Field Museum. We assumed it would be outrageously out of our price range, and it was (for now), but it was a beautiful spot and inspired a few new ideas.
In addition to scouting out event venues at the Field Museum, we also found a…PHOTOBOOTH! And you know what we do when one of those comes across our path.
The three of us took a trip to Chicago last Fall, where we scouted a few locations for potential future events and timed it so we could attend Veganmania.
Chicago Veganmania was the place where we met Black Metal Chef AND Miyoko Schinner, so based on those two facts alone it was pretty great. We also saw some of our favorite Chicago faves: The Snarky Vegan, Kelly Peloza and Dan & Nicole from Uptons. There was a pretty good Portland showing too, with Herbivore and Food Fight representing Portland’s OG vegan mini-mall.
The organizers of Veganmania put together a great event for Chicago–and beyond–vegans and veg-curious, and we loved taking it all in. It’s wonderful that there’s so much support of one another in the vegan community, and the three of were grateful for the opportunity to support the hard work and great show that was Veganmania 2012.
VVC2 was a wirlwind of a feel good vegan social media weekend, and even in the middle of the storm, I found a few things that I absolutely cannot live without ever again, if I had a choice in the matter.
From top left:
Wayfare Maple Ice Cream: Made from oats, this creamy and smooth non-dairy ice cream is now the benchmark for all other vegan ice cream brands and flavors. While I love me some So Delicious and Coconut Bliss, this oat-based dreamy creamy pint is my new jam.
Tofurky BBQ Chicken Hot Pockets: Growing up vegetarian, I never indulged in hot pockets as a kid, but as an adult, this hot, sweet and tangy with tofu in a convenient pocket of bread is sure to be a delightful occasional indulgence when I’m back in the States. I ate several of these throughout the VVC weekend.
Tatly Vegan Temporary Tattoos: This company donated veggie-themed temporary tattoos the the VIP ticket-holders of the Galarama. I seem to have ended up with one in the aftermath of VVC, so I stuck the booklet in my backpack with me to take on my travels. I love the idea of temporary tattoos that are vegan, and though of course the vegetables are my fave, all their other themed books are adorable and fun.
Myoko Schinner’s Vegan Cheese Platter: Seriously. Artisan vegan cheese is taking over the country, and Miyoko’s ground-breaking book Artisan Vegan Cheese seems to be leading the pack. She put together a GORGEOUS plate of her cheese for the Galarama, and I found myself eating as many crackers loaded with cheese as I could.
VVC on Stage: I just love working with Jess and Michele so much, and love getting to be in a whole building/city filled with like-minded vegan bloggers, authors and social media users. The people involved are always my absolute all-time fave thing from the conferences!
One of the projects we really enjoy working on is partnering with local restaurants to showcase their take on creative vegan food and drink.
We call this The Exquisite Dinner Series, and our first one was in 2012.
We partnered with BridgePort Brewpub, and the Chef and his sous chefs whipped up a modern take on classic pub food. The dessert, a chocolate layered cake with strawberry preserves and BridgePort Porter ganache, was both a visual and gastronomical hit.
In between eating tacos, we held inspiring meetings and saw event spaces that gave us some really exciting ideas we’re all looking forward to sharing with you all (hint: some of them are here).