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Last weekend, I attended a super awesome event: Chicago VeganMania!

I had a great time last year, and this year it was even bigger & better.  In fact, the event took place at a new venue, 50% larger than last year’s space.

Even better, last year I attended alone, and this year, Mike came along with me.  It was easy to convince him to come since he had such a great time at VeggieFest this summer.

See how excited he was as we entered VeganMania?

For starters, we caught the tail-end of the “Cooking with Dandies Demo by Chicago Vegan Foods company.  Dandies are Vegan Marshmallows that taste even better than the non-vegan kind.  I love having them straight from the bag or in a mug of hot cocoa, but I didn’t know that you can use them in baking just like regular marshmallows.

While we missed most of the demo, thankfully we were just in time to sample the goodies: Rice Krispie Treats (Plain & with Chocolate) and a sinfully delicious Rocky Road bite.

 

I think I might have had a little bit of chocolate on my teeth, but after the demo it was time to meet some new friends.

When I posted a reminder about VeganMania on Facebook earlier that week, Laura and Darrin, two of my readers wrote on my wall that they’d be attending too.  We’d been chatting back and forth on Facebook for months before then, so it was about time for us to meet! We made plans to meet up for lunch at the festival, and I am so glad we did.

Laura and Darrin totally took me by surprise by bringing a really thoughtful gift for me: Their favorite Eco-Friendly Products.  

How cool are these?  I know I will get a lot of use out of all of this!

Lunch was both fun and delicious.  Laura, Darrin, Mike, and I all had so much in common (just like me, Laura and Darrin have been vegetarians for 12 years, and have lived all over the country).  And the food?  YUM!

I had a HUGE platter of Indian food from Arya Bhavan including chickpeas, lentils, eggplant, rice, a samosa, fruit, and a raw cookie.

Mike had an Ethiopian platter from Ras Dashen, and Laura and Darrin shared a Tamale from Brother Tim’s and the Orange Chik’n from Urban Vegan.  

 

After lunch, we all decided to go together to see the Vegan Black Metal Chef’s Cooking Demo.  I’m not really into Metal music, but the VeganMania program promised that “his passions for vegan cooking and making metal music…create an awesomely unlikely combination that is informative, hilarious, and enlightening.”  And I couldn’t agree more!

Don’t be intimidated. He may chop his onions with an Axe, make Vegetable Sacrifices, and worship Seitan (the fake-meat, not the devil) but it’s all in the name of promoting Veganism. His YouTube videos and dark humor have been very successful at spreading yummy Vegan recipes to a very broad audience.  In fact, he had a Standing-Room-Only crowd for this demo.

Due to the huge crowd, there weren’t enough samples of his cooking to go around. While I didn’t get to taste anything, the room smelled of delicious spices and everything looked so good! I loved how easy & flavorful his recipes seemed and definitely hope to try them at home soon, especially his recipe for Aloo Palak (Indian Spiced Potatoes with Spinach).  I was also blown away by how simple his Buffalo Seitan Bites are (3 ingredients!) and the Udon Noodle Stirfry looked delicious. 

Best of all, later that afternoon, Mike and I got to speak directly with the Vegan Black Metal Chef when we stopped by his booth at the festival.  I really can’t express enough how nice he his.  Underneath his costume, he’s a regular guy and passionate vegan.  He introduced himself to us as “Brian”, genuinely asking our names in return.  We chatted a bit about his recipes, and he said he aims to keep thinks simple by focusing on concepts, so that if a viewer can’t find a particular ingredient, it can easily be swapped with the concept remaining unchanged.  Not only are his recipes approachable, but he is too! Are you surprised?

 

Stay Tuned for a post on the 2nd half of my day at Chicago VeganMania!

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever heard of the Vegan Black Metal Chef?

Which food-celebrity would you want to meet?