Chef Charlise Rookwood of MADAMENOIRE’S Black Vegan Cooking Show challenged us to step into her world of vegan culinary delights. And we did just that. We followed the charming chef to New York City’s Randall Island Sept. 16 where she hosted one of the largest vegan festivals in the United States– Vegandale.

Charlise’s infectious energy, hosting her own cooking series and passion for preparing delectable vegan dishes made her the perfect choice to host Vegandale.  With 40,000 people converging on Randall Island to partake in vegan eats from over 250 vendors and to see live performances from Styles P, Coi Leray and Rick Ross, the London-born chef promised us that we wouldn’t miss meat– and she didn’t tell one lie.

I have to note that I am a steak and lobster– well, all the meats kind of girl. I had never eaten a meal without meat. And I was skeptical as hell, but I messed with the homie, so I obliged. Also, I wasn’t convinced that mushrooms, cauliflower and chickpeas weren’t hearty enough to fill me like carne.

Charlise encouraged me to keep an open mind, so with my baby girl in tow, we stood in line to try vegan tacos and a plantain boat. MN’s social manager, Tiffany Smith, and NewsOne’s social media manager, Dev Tyler, also got their eat on. And literally, we ate and left no crumbs.

With so many vegan dishes to choose from and really no frame of reference for vegan food, I decided to try my favorite foods in vegan form– tacos and pastelon. Light Eye See offered alkaline Buffalo and Chile Verde Sauce tacos, and they were divine.  And I’m not gonna hold you. The crunchy, fried mushrooms tasted like the juiciest chicken tenders ever. The sweet plantain boat from the Dominican and Trinidadian owners of Healthy As A Motha performed a dance party in my mouth, especially after a tamarind salsita was added to the boat. I’ll keep it a buck; it’s a vegan dish– but y’all can’t tell that wasn’t well-seasoned ground beef and real cheese.

My daughter shared her delicious vegan lobster roll, and I’m still pondering life. How the hell did they do that?

After getting our eat on, Charlise, her co-host Scott Burnhard and DJ Lohrasp Kansara rocked the mic and the crowd with music from the diaspora and Africa. We two-stepped, wobbled, wound up our waists and even danced to merengue and denbow. The Black Vegan Cooking Show host even got her boogie on as she mingled with festivalgoers.

One of the highlights of Vegandale was Charlise reuniting with her good homie and fellow Lox member, Styles P, to bring him out on stage to perform his hits. He’s been plant-based for almost a decade, and he’s also appeared on the Black Vegan Cooking Show.

“It was a true honor to introduce my brother @stylesp to a massive crowd of thousands at @vegandale NY 💫

Styles is not only an exceptional talent but also one of the kindest and most community-minded individuals I know.

Thank you, brother, for the love and support you’ve shown for my show 🙏🏾 You being present opened up a whole bunch of conversations with non-vegans in our community ✨

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out The Black Vegan Cooking Show, where Styles and I cook up a storm, including mouthwatering Jamaican Pea soup!”

The show culminated with stellar performances by Coi Leray and Rick Ross.

Real talk– we had a ball. Chef Charlise ensured us that MN’s experience would be unforgettable, and she opened our minds to healthy, delicious culinary vegan dishes, keeping up her end of the deal. Ultimately, anything the talented chef is cooking– we’re eating!

It’s upward and onward for our favorite vegan chef. While we wait for the return of The Black Vegan Cooking Show, the savvy maven has partnered with The Dennis Sharp Foundation to help uplift the women in Kasoa, Ghana. Her beautifully designed African print aprons are ready for purchase– even though she warns that “stock is low.”

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