The Knoxville Vegan Chef Challenge is here—and we’re in store for a delicious March!

There’s never been a better time to try vegan food—especially in Knoxville.

For the entire month of March, local chefs will be wowing the community with creative plant-based specials. All you have to do is give them a try and vote for your favorites.

The Knoxville Vegan Chef Challenge is put on by international nonprofit, Vegan Outreach. They’ve partnered with local groups like Healthy Taste of Knoxville and Knox Vegan (us!) to bring the event to our local community. The goals of the Challenge are to showcase fun new vegan options, and to show local businesses that there is demand for them.

According to the Yuri Mitzkewich, Food Events Organizer for Vegan Outreach, the Knoxville Vegan Chef Challenge has been one of the most popular ones to date!

He told us, “The excitement surrounding this local vegan food contest, has been inspiring to say the least. Besides the growing excitement being seen on the local social media, the restaurants themselves are going above and beyond, For instance, while only one new vegan special is needed to enter, many of the Knoxville VCC locations have actually done 3-5 brand new dishes! This has been so incredible to see—especially from many of our locations not typically known as being super vegan-friendly.”

In cities that have already hosted Vegan Chef Challenges, businesses have reported an increase in new customers and an overall increase in business for the month. The community really loves all the new options. Many restaurants even opt to add the popular specials to their regular menus.

Knoxville Vegan Chef Challenge participant and owner of SoKno Sourdough, Stephanie Carlson, gave this feedback after wrapping the first day of the VCC: “I’m excited to be a part of this challenge because while all the goods I make are vegan, adding creative twists to focaccia offerings specifically for this challenge has been really inspiring and motivating. This is the first time I’ve offered something that pulled from my heritage, Armenian, and it’s been really cool learning about that cuisine and how I can apply it to my bread. I’m doing 4 vegan topping options throughout the month, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them stuck and became a regular menu item. Folks are giving me great feedback on the combos so far!”

Leah Heres of Fräuleinwunder Bakery, said, “It is amazing to see how many restaurants and bakeries are taking part in this challenge and I’m proud to be a part of all of it!”

We also asked some diners how their experience has been.

“I had a finger-licking-good first day of the Knox Vegan Challenge! Frauleinwunder’s brioches are dulcet delights!  It was impossible to enjoy only one. Kianga’s “beans-greens-potatoes-tomatoes” is a savory, scrumptious dish.  It’s a comforting plate made of the perfect blend of texture and taste. I am overjoyed with how this challenge is flavoring the Scruffy City!” – Jenna Davis, Knoxville Resident

“I felt so loved by Simp’l in our first dinner – they had created five unique dishes for their entry, and it was SO tough to choose between them! Our crew passed food around so we could try it all, and it was incredible. It’s really exciting seeing something like this happen in our city. My partner and I are planning to try every single special, and hope that some of them stay around after this month. We’ve already had meat-eating and vegetarian friends reach out to us about eating out together because the specials sound so good, so this is not just for vegans – it’s for anyone who loves delicious, creative food! – Heather Mount, Knoxville Resident and contributor to Knox Vegan.

If you are like us, you are ready to plan your next meal with one of amazing Knoxville Vegan Chef Challenge contestants…we know our calendars are getting stacked with dinner dates so we can try them all!

Here’s all the information you need to plan your next visit.

The Knoxville Vegan Chef Challenge website highlights the participating local businesses, their menus, and where to find them!

The menu items will be around from March 1st through March 31st! And make sure to vote after trying each dish. An awards ceremony is being scheduled for April 2023. Stay tuned to Knox Vegan and Knoxville Vegan Chef Challenge social media to keep up with the event!

There’s never been such an exciting opportunity in East TN to support local business and to spread the word about veganism. These VCC contestants are breaking the “rabbit food” stereotypes by making truly exciting options that are accessible. We are so grateful for their partnership!


Stacy Shepanek

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