Here at Pacific Roots Magazine we enjoy learning about plant-based cuisine- from history and cultural food traditions to modern developments in culinary practice and food industry. In this light, we were excited to recently speak with Eugen Stolin, organiser of Plantable Cooking Contest about the establishment and mission of this unique culinary contest in Sweden.
Can you tell us about the establishment and purpose of the Plantable Cooking Contest?
Eugen: Plantable Cooking Contest is first of its kind cooking competition in Sweden – only ingredients from the plant kingdom are allowed. Well, to be pedantic, mushrooms are also ok. There two main reasons behind organising Plantable: inspiration and development of plant based cuisine. We see gourmet cooking as an art form and art is based on inspiration. Even in the culinary arts, chefs often copy and refine each other’s work. So, to encourage chefs to create stunning plant-based dishes we need to give them inspiration and show how beautiful and rich plant-based cuisine is.
We also recognise that development of plant-based gourmet does not have a long history, therefore we need to accelerate the development so plant-based food will play a natural role in gourmet kitchen. Obviously, we think that a cooking content is an excellent way to attract progressive chefs who want to challenge both themselves and the restaurant world.
The main focus of our contest is the food. It is not about finding the most skilled and technical chef. Besides plating and taste combinations we judge innovation and sustainability to find our finalists. For the same reason Plantable Cooking Contest is open to all types of food creators. We want to find that special, innovative way to see things that can sometimes disappear in trends and mode. We also think that the best way to enjoy your creations is together with people. That’s why we urge chefs to cook together instead of just competing against each other. One of the tasks in the final is where chefs should create a meal together from one given basket with ingredients. The challenge is to work together to create a world-class feast.
In summary, the name of the contest well reflects all our goals. Plantable means something you can plant and grow as we plant our initiative. Plantable is also a merge between Plant and Table where plants are our base and common table to which we invite people to share their food. What do you bring to the table?
Can you tell us a bit more about the history of the contest as well as when and where the first one was?
Eugen: 2020 is the contest’s third year in a row. The contest is organised by Vegetarian Chef Association which is a non-profit organisation for professional chefs where we offer community, inspiration and knowledge. Everyone with an open mind, curiosity towards plant-based food and motivation to learn are welcome to our association. The idea about a cooking contest had been with us from the start, but not until we met our first sponsor who helped us with finding a good place for a final could we move forward. The first final in Sweden was held in Grythyttan. Grythyttan is known for its higher education in culinary subjects and for their one of a kind cookbook library. That’s why we were both honoured and excited to start Plantable Cooking Contest in a place from where many culinary trends are initiated.
This year we are moving to Stockholm. We hope that can attract more audience to share inspiration and show Sweden’s best plant-based gourmet kitchen to more people.
How has Covid-19 effected planning for the contest?
Eugen: At the moment, it is business as usual. The final is set to the last weekend of August and we are hoping that situation will stabilise by then. We have a contingency plan but concentrating on making one step at the time. Right now, we are focusing on getting as many competition entries as possible.
Visit Plantable online at https://plantable.cc/