It was a crisp and brisk but extremely tasty evening Friday night at the Friends Center for the Philly Vegan Awards! As part of Philly Vegan Day 2017 we celebrated vegan values and also took the opportunity to stuff our faces without having to ask "is this vegan?"
Festivities kicked off in the Cherry Street Room, where a dozen vendors provided samples of some of the best vegan food in town. A bright blue philly.com vegan awards backdrop proved a popular photo-op spot for the crowd who filled the room, and by filled I mean, yes, I know we ran out of room for people to sit. It is noted.
Among those sampling were Fran Costigan, a co-organizer of the event, with her latest inspired chocolate creations; Christina Pirello, the presenter of our first three awards, showcasing delicious cookies; Best Desserts winner Crust Bakery; and Mark McKinney, who pulled in a total of three awards for two different restaurants, Royal Tavern and Triangle Tavern. (See list below for more.)
Shortly after 8 pm we moved into the Race Street room for the ceremony. I read the Mayoral Proclamation of Philly Vegan Day 2017 in my finest oratorical cadence. Then it was time for the winners of our philly.com public vote in 12 categories. (See below.)
Our presenters handled the individual award-giving with aplomb. In order of appearance, they were Christina Pirello, Jenice Armstrong, Dynise Balcavage and Fran Costigan. Thanks to all four for classing up the overall show!
Near the end of the evening was the presentation of a special award. I won't repeat here the backstory of Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby but suffice to say, their creative dedication to animal-free cuisine has been one of the primary forces behind Philly's robust vegan-dining scene, both in the example they set and the impact that people they trained at Horizons have had in opening more vegan restaurants. We recognized and thanked them with a Lifetime Achievement Award. They also wound up taking home the Best Appetizer award for Vedge's rutabaga fondue.
Anne Dinshah, American Vegan Society vice president, spoke briefly about her father H. Jay Dinshah and his tireless efforts to spread the word about veganism, sparked by a fateful visit to Philadelphia in 1957.
A hearty round of applause to everyone who pitched in and helped in one way or another to make this happen! Hopefully the takehome was this: There's no need for animals to be involved in our having a terrific time!
Thanks to all those who offered samples of their vegan wares:
Best Breakfast or Brunch:
Best Sandwich / Burger:
Royal Tavern - Tempeh Club
Best Non-Food Vegan Business:
Best Frozen Treats:
Best Cheap Vegan Meal:
Best Airport/Bus/Train Station Food:
Mi Lah - 30th Street Station
SPECIAL PRESENTATION: Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby: Vegan Lifetime Achievement Award
Vedge - Rutabaga fondue with soft pretzel
Best New Vegan Restaurant of the Year: