The Philadelphia tradition of celebrating the Super Bowl with competitive eating contests reached deep into its conscience and came up with the Vegan French Toast Bowl.
Seven competitors squared off over steaming piles of animal-product-free French toast Sunday morning for Vegan French Toast Bowl 3 at West Philadelphia’s Lava Space.
The event was held to raise awareness about food rescue. Organizers also collected donations for the community center, located on the 4100 block of Lancaster Avenue, which is used for organizing social change.
“Everyone like maple syrup? Okay, good. Only the good stuff for my eaters,” organizer Gabriel Nyantakyi said, prepping the competitors before the eating began. The maple syrup was donated by the Fair Food Farmstand, located in Reading Terminal Market. Bread was donated by Whole Foods, and the cashew milk came from Snap Kitchen.
Nyantakyi explained that French toast was the ideal meal for an eating competition because even if the bread was frozen or a bit stale, it could still make some delicious French toast. He works for a company called Food Connect, which connects people and places looking to donate food with those who need it.
Nyantakyi is a Philadelphia native and huge football fan. He was inspired to found the Vegan French Toast Bowl by the Wing Bowl 3 years ago.
“[The Wing Bowl] was something I always wanted to go and check out, but as I found out about food justice, animal cruelty, and being less of a patriarchal misogynist, it struck me to do something alternative that could be just as fun.”
Nikolai Dubsky, a Drexel student and year-long vegan, showed up a little hung over and ready for good food. He said he loves to cook, but as a vegan it isn’t always easy to find a meal at a restaurant that fits into his diet. He was excited to have someone else making his breakfast and serving it to him.
Dubsky and six other competitors spent about 20 minutes in a race to see who could eat the most. Many used the Fair Food Farmstand maple syrup to lubricate their slices, while about 50 spectators cheered them on and streamed the competition from their phones. Last year’s champ, called “Fat Man,” held the record for 16 slices from 2016.
Ultimately, those who started strong dropped out after about 10 minutes, and Dubsky persevered to eat 19 slices, setting a new record and winning the grand prize of a free haircut and beard trim at Leroy’s Barber Shop, across the street from Lava Space.
After the competition, the audience was invited to grab a plate of cold French toast. Joy Burney, a West Philadelphia resident who came to the event with her vegan aunt, had never had vegan French toast before, but after a bite she vowed to get the recipe.