Meet the Winner of the 2019 Meatless Monday Rapid Fire Challenge in Orlando, Florida

September 30th, 2019


On Monday, September 16, three finalists competed to be crowned the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Meatless Monday Rapid Fire Champion. Finalists were chosen from a pool of chefs who submitted original meatless recipes and videos.

The competition was judged by a panel of experts including (from left to right) Hari Pulapaka, Ph.D., C.E.C., Executive Chef & Co-Owner, Cress Restaurant; Kristine Palkowetz, Chief Wellness Officer, Joyful Goodness; Kendra Lott, Publisher, Edible Orlando; and Dana Smith, Campaign Director, Meatless Monday.

The three competing finalists were:

Carly Paige, Founder, FitLiving Eats; Author, “Simply Swapped Everyday”

Chris Dancesia, Owner/Chef, Nick’s Bistro

Anne Hernandez, Founder, Our Urban Homestead

Chefs had 20 minutes to prepare their dishes while discussing the ingredients, flavors, and health benefits. Each chef prepared their favorite meatless dish for the panel of judges.

Carly Paige kicked off the competition by preparing her Lentil Walnut Tacos, which she said she knows are good because even her meat and potato loving brother enjoys them.

Lentil Walnut Tacos with Cashew Sour Cream & Pineapple Avocado Salsa

Lentil Walnut Tacos with Cashew Sour Cream & Pineapple Avocado Salsa

Anne Hernandez then prepared her Vegan Shephard’s Pie, a recipe that “isn’t giving up anything” by going plant-based, as it allows you to enjoy a lighter version of a traditional comfort food.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Finally, Chef Chris Dancesia prepared Summer Squash and Rice Noodles with Caribbean Gremolata and Coconut Oil, a favorite vegetarian dish at his restaurant.

Rice Stick Noodle with Caribbean Gremolata

Rice Stick Noodle with Caribbean Gremolata

Although a tough decision, the judges awarded Chef Chris as the winner of the Meatless Monday Rapid Fire Challenge. Judges enjoyed the variety of flavors in his dish, as well as the presentation.

Growing up in a Slovak Ukrainian family, Chris learned how to cook from a young age. Starting at age 15 as a dishwasher, Chris has spent his career working in restaurants, learning all aspects – from bar back to waiting tables to eventually moving into the kitchen. From 2008 to 2012, Chris worked in a restaurant in Belize before returning to Florida. Earlier this year, his lifelong dream came true as he and a business partner opened Nick’s Bistro.

Congratulations to Chef Chris!

Try all the chefs’ recipes this Meatless Monday and let us know how they came out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.