Meatless Monday Single Skillet Chef Competition: Rapid-Fire Challenge at the International Restaurant Show, March 2023

The annual Meatless Monday Rapid-Fire Challenge returned to the International Restaurant and Foodservice show in New York City, and this year’s competition didn’t fail to deliver a menu full of bold, inventive, and down-right delicious plant-based meals. 

The event, sponsored by Total Food Service, tasked seven chefs to create their best meat-free dishes. But there was a catch: they had to do all of their cooking in only one pan. Sound tricky? Not for these chefs.

 Contestants had 10 minutes on stage to introduce themselves, cook their dish, and present their samples to the judges via an autonomous mobile robot developed by United Robotics. The winning chef received $1,000 and was crowned the Rapid-Fire Champion. Besides the bragging rights, the winner will also be featured in Total Food Service Magazine, as well as on Meatless Monday communications channels.

The chefs competed fiercely, but when the flour settled, Chef James Williamson of Brooklyn-based Black-owned restaurant J Dub with Da Grub found himself at the top of the leaderboard. His passion for Southern American and Caribbean cooking, paired with his love of African flavors, inspired his winning dish: Jerk Tofu over Coconut Rice and Peas Risotto with Mango Slaw. Pairing the pungent spices of Jerk seasoning with the creamy, aromatic coconut risotto, and sweet-refreshing slaw was a match made in heaven for the judges. 

Although Chef Williamson went home with the trophy and cash prize, all the Meatless Monday Rapid-Fire Challenge participants competed valiantly and demonstrated the power of plant-based cooking.

Make the winning recipe at home: 

Jerk Tofu with Coconut Rice and Peas Risotto with Mango Slaw Chef James Williamson – JDub W/ Da Grub

1 package extra firm tofu, sliced 1 inch thick

Jerk marinade:

  • 1/2 jerk seasoning 
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 2 oz ginger
  • 2 oz garlic
  • 1.5 cups oil

Coconut Rice and Peas Risotto:

  • 1 onion, small diced
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 cups veggie Stock
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 spring scallions
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 oz whole allspice
  • 2 oz coconut based sour cream alternative

Mango Slaw

  • 1 mango, small diced
  • 1 small green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 scotch bonnet, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup scallion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Salt, pepper to taste


  1.  Blend together all the ingredients for the jerk marinade. Place tofu in a container and pour marinade over it.
  2. Mix together ingredients for mango slaw and set aside.
  3. In a pan over medium heat with canola oil, start to toast the Arborio rice.
  4. In a separate pot, bring coconut milk, veggie stock, scotch bonnet, thyme, scallion, and allspice to a boil. Turn down to a simmer.
  5. Add onions and garlic to arborio rice. Saute until translucent.
  6. One ladle at a time, begin to add coconut veggie stock mix to the arborio. Stir constantly so it does not burn.
  7. In a pan over high heat, begin to sear tofu 2-3 minutes on both sides until it’s nicely browned and heated through. Set aside.
  8. When the risotto is almost tender and creamy, fold in peas and coconut sour cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. In a bowl, assemble the jerk tofu on top of the risotto. Top with mango slaw and thinly sliced scallions.
  10. Enjoy!