Today I’m taking a little bit of a different approach to Vegans, Baby. For the first time, I’m not simply reporting on the news … Vegans, Baby and I are the news. It’s pretty hard to report objectively on this, so rather than just give you the basics, I wanted to take a minute and be me and share this dream that’s been happening the past few years, and more specifically, the few months.
At the start of 2018, a friend of mine messaged me (he’s actually a psychic and someone I really respect) and told me that in 2018, there would be opportunities presented to me that were 1 in a million.
That year so many magical things happened with Vegans, Baby. The little site blossomed into something more than I could have ever imagined.
My Instagram hit the coveted 10,000 (biz talk: it’s super important for driving traffic to a website), I launched the city’s first-ever vegan dining month, Veganuary Las Vegas, created events across the Valley to highlight restaurants offering vegan options and sold them out, published my first guide book … and my second.
I also partnered with LIVEKINDLY for a video series and was also honored to be a part of a video and story (which was entirely separate and editorial) highlighting the astronomical growth of the vegan dining scene in Las Vegas, launched a vegan food tour of Las Vegas, spoke at handful of prominent vegan events in the States, and so much more.
So, yeah, 2018 was magical.
I didn’t get a reading from my friend for 2019, and that’s ok because it’s exceeded every single fiber I every imagined it could be … and we’re only in May, which happens to be the three-year anniversary of the site’s launch.
I’ve been in the restaurant world for more than a decade and have worked with chefs and restaurants long enough to know that the James Beard Foundation is the upper echelon of recognition for chefs in the culinary world. So, when I saw that the director of house programming for the Foundation had messaged me, it took my breath away.
The director had gotten word of my work in Vegas and the efforts I’ve made to elevate the vegan dining scene here and bring attention to the vegan revolution taking place here and wanted me to partner with them to curate a special vegan dinner at the James Beard House in New York City highlighting the chefs making exceptional vegan cuisine in Las Vegas.
In the past three years, I’ve probably averaged dining out at least once a day (although now I’m trying to reign it in because dining out every single day isn’t fantastic for my health), so I’ve eaten a lot of vegan food in Las Vegas from the tiny holes-in-the-wall to high-end vegan-friendly restaurants in Las Vegas.
Each month, the James Beard House celebrates vegan food with a special dinner with a chef from a restaurant coming in to prepare a gorgeous, coursed meal for a dinner party of around 80 people. The Vegan Vegan dinner I was being asked to curate would be the first of its kind at the House since — rather than a chef being represented — it would be an entire city.
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So, I set out to carefully pick through the vegan meals I’ve eaten in my time since I launched Vegans, Baby. Being a chef and making a meal at the House is one of those career-making moments, and the food which is served from their kitchens are high-end, creative and of a caliber that chefs strive to attain.
Let me say this: it’s not easy to select chefs for a dinner like this.
In fact, my list when I first presented it to the Foundation was long. While I’d love for every chef I recognized to be included in the dinner, the reality is that it isn’t possible. There are financial constraints, scheduling and other factors which make it difficult for every chef selected to be a part of the dinner, including the vegan and female chefs I selected.
I’m so excited and honored to be in a position where the Foundation asks me to create a special Vegan Vegas dinner for them, and am just as excited to present to you the chefs who are participating in the first-ever vegan dinner celebrating vegan cuisine in a city. Even more exciting: that city is Las Vegas.
The chefs joining me on Wednesday, July 10 at the famous James Beard House in New York City are:
- Oscar Amador of EDO Gastro Tapas & Wine
- Brian Howard of Sparrow + Wolf
- Andrew Carroll of CATCH Las Vegas
- Yuri Szarzewski of Eatt
- Vincent Pellerin of Partage
If you happen to be in NYC for this event, tickets are $140 for members of the Foundation, $180 for non-members and can be purchased here. If not, be sure to follow Vegans, Baby and my personal account on Instagram, plus the hashtag #vegasveganjbf for all the action
There’s so much more going on with Vegans, Baby and I can’t wait to share it with you in the coming weeks and months.
I’m eternally grateful for all of the support I’ve received and look forward to continuing to grow with you.
And, stay tuned — for those chefs that couldn’t make the first dinner in NYC — we’ve got something happening in November, too.
Side note: there’s one spot left on my first vegan tour of Thailand this October. Mindful Wanderlust and I have put together a sweet tour based on our favorite spots, attractions and more after living there for years! One. Spot. Left. Are you joining us?
Diana Edelman is the founder of Vegans, Baby. She previously lived and worked in Thailand working for an elephant sanctuary and has traveled around the world speaking about the realities of elephant tourism, being a positive activist and entrepreneur at events including TBEX, SEED Food + Wine, VegFest Puerto Rico, VegFest Toronto and more. Diana is a proud partner with the James Beard Foundation and curates their Vegas Vegan Dinner series at the famous James Beard House, as well as the vegan activation, The Farm Stand, at Las Vegas’ Life Is Beautiful festival.