3rd Annual Vegan Hot Dish Cook-Off

This last weekend was ARC’s 3rd annual vegan hot dish cook-off. This year was very challenging compared to last year. It was supposed to be at the same community center, but when I walked up ten minutes before it started and the doors were still locked, I got a bad feeling.

ARC 2015 Hotdish Cook Off
(above: Tater Tot Hot Dish. My favorite of the event!)
I found the judges and most of the volunteers standing near the upper entrance. It was a beautiful sunny day, but the light breeze made the 20F feel much colder. We stood outside while the organizers and volunteers tried to get a hold of the city to get us in the building.

Around 2pm, one hour after the event was supposed to start, we moved down the street to ARC’s headquarters. Multiple people were trying hard to keep the event moving forward and organized. I heard several times just five more minutes and a city official would show up.

At 2:15, one of the participants started serving his hot dish outside. I was second in line, and many more followed. We were all very hungry! I talked with several people who skipped breakfast and lunch with the hopes of filling up at the event.

ARC 2015 Hotdish Cook Off

At 2:30, the city showed up with keys. We were all excited and got ready to move to the community center. The official brought the wrong keys. The crowd groaned as we walked back in the cold. The participants started serving their food inside the cramped space while the attendees eagerly wolfed down the hot dish. It was really crowded.

ARC 2015 Hotdish Cook Off

I did learn an interesting trick for getting a large group of people to listen. The person wanting to talk yells “If you can hear me, clap one time”. The people clap once. Then they yell “If you can hear me, clap two times”. More people clap. Then they yell “If you can hear me, clap three times”. Most people are clapping. Then they can deliver their message since everyone was listening. A clever way to get attention without a whistle or something similar.

ARC 2015 Hotdish Cook Off
(above: MN Pad Thai Hot Dish)

The judges for this year were Kale and Aubry from Herbivorous Butcher and the I think the previous year’s winner.

ARC 2015 Hotdish Cook Off

It was very chaotic. Many people left before I did; I left early as well. It was too crowded, and I was still hungry. A lot of the hot dish was cold, and not very appetizing. The problem of sitting in a cold car for two hours longer than necessary. A shame.

There was two hot dishes that I really enjoyed.The best was the tater tot hot dish pictured at the top of the post. The flavors and texture were very satisfying. My second favorite was the baked ziti pictured below. The cheese, sauce, and bread worked wonderfully; it had great texture as well.

On the way to the car, I saw the building being unlocked around 3pm. Frustrating. This was a really fun event last year. I hope they city refunds their rent money.

ARC 2015 Hotdish Cook Off
(above: Baked Ziti with Bread Hot Dish. My second favorite.)

The organizers did a good job considering the huge obstacles they had to face. They gave each of us three free tickets for hot dish which normally we would have had to pay a $1 for. This was a big fund raising event for them, and I felt bad they were not likely to get as much as last year. I wish them luck for their next fundraiser.

Related Posts:


  1. It is unfortunate that the city official or someone dropped the ball. It looks like it would have been such a great event had it been on time in the larger space.

    What was underneath the tater tots? It looks creamy.

    1. Unfortunate indeed.

      I think noodles and some vegan meat were under the tater tots. I don't remember really. I was so hungry by that point.