Kate Thompson shares the winning vegan recipes that saw her scoop the coveted £1,000 prize in the latest instalment of C4's iconic cooking show, Come Dine With Me.
Many vegans have now appeared on Channel 4’s hit cookery show Come Dine With Me over the years. But few have been able to beat their meat-eating competitors to claim the £1,000 prize – until now that is.
Kate Thompson has proved once and for all that vegan food is anything but bland and boring as she has just become the first vegan in the North East to win the coveted prize.
A passionate cook, Kate has always loved food and has been lucky enough to have dined in some of the world’s best restaurants.
However, since turning vegan in 2020, the former self-confessed avid meat-eater has transferred her knowledge of food to her vegan dishes, using her skills to create complex and flavoursome recipes without animal products.
Keen to share her newfound passion for vegan cuisine with like-minded people, Kate began sharing her culinary creations on Instagram.
It was here that she caught the eye of a TV researcher looking to recruit contestants to showcase their talents on the long-running cookery show.
“One day I received a message from a follower saying how much they loved my page – they turned out to be a TV researcher for Come Dine with Me, asking me to apply!”, she told Vegan Food & Living.
A passionate foodie, Kate Thompson caught the eye of TV researchers with her culinary creations on Instagram. Image credit: Kate Thompson
Following a lengthy interview process, Kate was overjoyed to receive a call two weeks prior to filming informing her that she had been selected to appear on the show.
Delighted to get the call, Kate revealed: “I spent the next two weeks preparing the menu, whilst suffering from a severe case of the butterflies.”
However, Kate needn’t have worried as her impressive vegan menu got the seal of approval from her guests, earning her the £1,000 prize.
“In the end, the nerves were unwarranted. I put my all into it and the meals went down a treat – it was truly an evening and week I will never forget,” she said.
So how did Kate beat a group of meat-eaters to claim the prestigious title of Come Dine With Me champion?
A party girl at heart, Kate decided that her theme would be the Roaring Twenties and her menu would feature traditional dishes everyone loves.
She explained that: “I wanted the guests to experience an elegant but traditional 3-course menu. I wanted them to see how hearty and fabulous vegan food could be!
A staunch believer that salads shouldn’t be boring, Kate kicked off the evening with a classic Waldorf salad with a veggie-filled asparagus tart.
Vegan Come Dine With Me winner Kate wowed her guests with classic dishes with a vegan twist. Image credit: Kate Thompson
To impress her guests, Kate opted for a ‘meaty’ main course of mushroom bourginon served with duchesse potatoes.
“I wanted the main to be as “meaty” as possible, so a tasty mushroom bourginon seemed a good bet. I sourced the most beautiful vegan mozzarella for my starter, a punchy combination of flavourful veggies and balsamic slow cooked onions,” she told us.
Finally, Kate’s guests enjoyed a sweet treat of sticky toffee pudding and homemade vanilla ice cream to prove that “vegan cakes and ice cream are just as good without dairy!”
As vegans, we’re used to having our food choices criticised around the dinner table, but Kate was pleased to find her fellow contestants were supportive and welcoming.
In fact, some of them even chose to make vegan dishes for their own nights for all the guests to enjoy.
“The other guests were absolute stars and their comments on my cooking were incredibly encouraging. They obviously all had to cook vegan dishes for me – and the fact that they were quite happy to do so was truly heartwarming, especially as some of the dishes cooked by others were fully vegan for all,” Kate explained.
After an enjoyable week of fun, food, and lots of laughter, Kate was delighted when it was announced that her vegan menu had earned her the coveted title of Come Dine With Me winner.
However, for Kate, appearing on Come Dine With Me was never about winning the £1,000 prize. Instead, it was an exciting opportunity to bring vegan cooking to the forefront to dispel the myths about it being less delicious.
“The opportunity was never about the winning, and I don’t think I would have enjoyed the process as much if I’d been focused on that aspect. But when the result came in, I was utterly overwhelmed: the director told me I was one of very few vegans to win Come Dine With Me in 15 years and the first ever, in the North East!
“My goal was for others to experience, enjoy and be pleasantly surprised by how good vegan food can be. I think I nailed it!”
Come Dine With Me “Durham” episodes aired on Channel 4 on 20th June 2022 and are available to watch on catch-up now. You can follow Kate on Instagram at @katey_vegan_lifestyle for more vegan recipes.
The winning vegan Come Dine With Me menu
All recipes serve 6+ people
Starter: “Hotsy Totsy” Asparagus Tart with a “Spiffy” Waldorf Salad
- 120g of cherry tomatoes
- 4 asparagus stalks
- 200g of vegan mozzarella
- 1 sheet of vegan puff pastry
- 3 red onions, sliced
- 1 tsp light brown sugar
- 6 basil leaves
- 1 – 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- Salt & Pepper
- Olive oil – for cooking
- Vegan butter – for cooking
- Soy milk (for brushing pastry)
Vegan Waldorf salad ingredients:
- 2-3 Tbsp of vegan mayonnaise
- 2 Braeburn apples
- 100g of walnuts
- Bunch of red grapes
- 2 sticks of celery
- 2 baby romaine lettuce
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
To make the vegan Waldorf salad:
- Make the Waldorf salad by combining all of the ingredients together with the lettuce then mix the salad gently with the vegan mayo.
To make the asparagus tarts:
- Prep/cut each pastry tart into your desired shape. To create a heart-shaped tart, make a second heart using puff pastry and remove the centre, leaving a 1cm frame. Then, layer the frame on top of the previously cut pastry.
- Put the pastry shapes in fridge on greaseproof lined tray.
- Fry the onions in oil/butter with pepper for 5-10 mins. Add balsamic vinegar and slow cook in a pan on very low heat for 15-20 mins. Leave it to cool.
- Slice baby tomatoes and asparagus and spray with a little oil.
- Slice the vegan mozzarella and arrange the tarts with vegan cheese on the base. Then add the cooled onions along with the asparagus and tomatoes.
- Brush pastry with milk and put in oven at 190C for 15-20 minutes until nicely browned.
Main course: “Ritzy” Mushroom Bourginon, Duchesse Potatoes & Greens
Cooking time: 8 hours (slow cooker) | Serves 6-8
Ingredients for gravy base:
- 400g closed cup mushrooms (for drying), sliced
- 2 shallots
- 2 red onions
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
- 240ml of vegan red wine
- 1 litre of “no beef” stock
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, for cooking OR ½ tsp of vegan butter, for cooking
Ingredients for mushroom Bourginon:
- 250g white mushrooms, sliced
- 250g Portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 100g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 500ml “No beef” stock
- 1.5 Tbsp of Marmite
- 1 Tbsp dried mixed herbs
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 500g Chantenay carrots
- 110g vegan cream
- 1 Tbsp tomato puree
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, for cooking OR ½ tsp of vegan butter, for cooking
For the duchesse potatoes:
- 15 medium potatoes – peeled & cut into quarters
- 3 Tbsp vegan butter
- 4 Tbsp vegan single cream
- Sea salt – few pinches
- 4-5 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- Green beans
- Preheat oven to 100C and line 2 pans with greaseproof paper.
- Slice closed cup mushrooms and spread across trays and put in oven for an 1hour 15 minutes.
- Put dried mushrooms into a bowl and add warm water from kettle. Leave to soak for 1 hour.
- Fry the onions and celery for 5 mins, in oil and vegan butter.
- Add the garlic, carrot, rosemary and fry for 1-2 mins. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the red wine and reduce and cook on a low heat for 5 mins.
- Next, add the “no beef” stock and cook on medium heat for a further 10 minutes. Leave aside and allow to cool.
- When dried mushrooms have soaked for an hour, blend (including the water) with the remaining ingredients in the pan and add entire mix to the slow cooker on medium heat.
- Add two bay leaves and marmite, tomato puree to slow cooker.
- Leave to cook on medium for 2 hours.
To make the mushroom Bourginon:
- Fry the onions, shallot, garlic, mushrooms in oil or vegan butter.
- Add mixed herbs and seasoning. Cook for 10-15 mins on low heat.
- Steam the chantenay carrots for 8 mins.
- Add the mushrooms and onions mix along with the steamed chantenay carrots to a slow cooker. Cook for another 3 hours on high.
- Add the vegan cream 10 minutes before end of cooking.
- Remove bay leaves and serve.
To make the duchesse potatoes:
- Line two trays with baking paper.
- Add potatoes to pan and cook in salted water for 15-20 mins until cooked well.
- Use a ricer to mash potatoes into a large bowl. Add salt, vegan butter, vegan cream & nutritional yeast to the potatoes and mix. You are looking for a fairly thick consistency that’s perfect for piping.
- Add the potato mixture to a piping bag and pipe onto your lined trays (using a star nozzle) to form circular mounds.
- Put the trays in the fridge until ready to cook. When you’re ready to cook, bake them in the oven for 25 minutes at 180C until nicely browned.
- Serve with steamed greens.
“Swell” Sticky Toffee Pudding & Vanilla Ice Cream
Cooking time: 70 minutes | Serves 6+
Vegan sticky toffee pudding ingredients:
- 230g of fresh pitted dates, chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 115g of vegan butter
- 65g of pecan nuts, chopped
- 130g of golden cane sugar
- 130g of demerara sugar
- 180g of self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Vegan vanilla ice cream ingredients:
- 3 cans of full fat coconut milk (keep in fridge overnight prior)
- 2 tsp of vanilla essence
- 1 vanilla pod, scraped
- 50g of golden cane sugar
- 75g of vegan condensed milk
- A generous pinch sea salt
Vegan toffee sauce ingredients:
- 150g of vegan butter
- 133g of golden cane sugar
- 133g of demerara sugar
- 180g of vegan cream
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- ¼ tsp of sea salt
- Night prior: Put ice cream machine bowl in freezer. Coconut tinned milk in fridge, night prior.
To make the ice cream:
- Set up the ice cream maker.
- Separate the coconut milk, scooping out the thick layer on top only and adding it to a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients for ice cream and whisk for 2-3 mins.
- Churn the mixture for 30-40 mins then add to the freezer before serving.
To make the sticky toffee puddings:
- Cover the chopped dates with boiling water and leave to soak for 10-15 minutes.
- To make the cake mix, combine sugar and butter with vanilla essence and chopped dates, pecans and whisk until smooth.
- Fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.
- Add cake mix to cases and bake in the oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes.
- To make the sticky toffee pudding sauce, heat butter, sugar, dark sugar, cream, and salt until the ingredients are fully combined and melted.
- Put a hole using a skewer in the pudding and pour the sauce in and over the pudding.
- Add a scoop of ice cream and serve with raspberries and mint leaves.
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