The Best Dish in 2020 Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge: Jackfruit BBQ Wingz

The winning dish: Root to Rise's jackfruit wingz with rice and vegetables.

Minneapolis-based Root to Rise Kitchen impressed voters and earned top honors in this year’s challenge.

Chef and founder of Root to Rise Kitchen, Heather Klein, is the official Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge winner. Heather was awarded a $250 cash prize and trophy, presented at a special awards ceremony at Camden Farmers Market on September 12.

To create her award-winning “wingz,” Heather wraps marinated jackfruit in rice paper, fries them in avocado oil, and serves them on a stick. They’re paired with sweet coconut jade pearl rice, Thai basil-marinated vegetables, and mango/pineapple salsa. You can find Root to Rise’s Jackfruit BBQ Wingz at the Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market.

Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge diners gushed about the flavor, creativity and presentation of the plant-based wings. Some of the comments that came in:

  • “Heather’s food is consistently delicious.”
  • “So amazing….no words.”
  • “Legit the best thing I’ve had in a while.”

Runners up included Namaste Cafe, the double-dish winner whose two dishes scored second and third, and Reverie, who was the featured classic winner. These were awarded based on diner votes.

The Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge encouraged area chefs to offer plant-based dishes at their restaurants throughout the month of August, and diners had the opportunity to cast online votes for their favorite dish, Additional awards were given based on diner comments and committee members’ experiences at the restaurants. Throughout the metro area, 12 dining establishments at 16 locations, each with takeout and delivery available, took part:

  • Namaste Café, Hennepin in Uptown | Double-Dish Winner: 2nd and 3rd Place for their two dishes, Chiya Chili Potatoes and Raw Jackfruit & Bamboo Shoot Curry
  • Reverie, South Minneapolis, Powderhorn | Winner: Featured Classic
  • The Naughty Greek, 2 locations in St. Paul | Winner: Outstanding Handheld Dish
  • Avocadish, Dinkytown avocado bar | Winner: Magnificent Medley Dish
  • Weinery, Cedar-Riverside | Winner: Best Kept Secret
  • Parkway Pizza, 4 metro locations | Winner: Outstanding Use of Local Ingredients
  • Shish, Grand Ave in St Paul | Winner: Sophisticated Spicy Dish 
  • PLNT BSD (Plant Based Bowls), Downtown White Bear Lake | Winner: Nutritiously Dense Decadence
  • Tiny Diner, E 38th St/11th Ave, Minneapolis | Winner: Fresh and Flavorful Dish
  • Book Club, Penn Ave, South Minneapolis | Winner: Fabulously Filling Dish
  • Heather’s, 52nd St/Chicago Ave, Minneapolis | Winner: Remarkably Colorful Dish
  • Red Wagon Pizza, 54th St/Penn Ave, Minneapolis | Winner: Brilliant Bean Fusion

The 2020 Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge was the biggest challenge yet, garnering a lot of public attention. Here’s a look at the numbers:

  • 337 diners voted this year.
  • 101 posts were shared on Instagram and Facebook.
  • 600+ weekly engagements on social media.
  • The challenge was covered by 17 media outlets, including 3 network news channels.

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