High-voltage vegan John Schlimm blazes through Philly

Author John Schlimm (left) with Penn Vegan Society members Victor Galli and Brianna Krejci.

Over the past few days, while the V for Veg portion of Philadelphia was enthralled with the final results of the vegan cheesesteak contest, one of our favorite authors and personalities blazed through town, so mercurial that it's only now that he's on his way out that we can note it.

John Schlimm is the author of The Tipsy Vegan (which, as I noted here, takes off from his family history as great-great-grandson of the founder of Straub brewery), Grilling Vegan Style (to which I devoted a column in 2012) and The Cheesy Vegan, which I recently named one of my Top 10 Vegan Cookbooks for the holiday season.

It's also a book that I'd already planned to give out as a judge's prize at Tuesday's cheesesteak judging event. That giveaway was enhanced by the last-minute news the Schlimm was coming into town about an hour before, and he hauled ass to make it to the proceedings for an in-person guest appearance.

The rest of the time since then, Schlimm did a 3-day author in-residence series sponsored by Penn Vegan Society and Bon Appetit dining services, involving not just book signings but cooking workshops resulting in an array of vegan cheesecakes and other desserts.

Penn freshman Brianna Krejci, who helped organize the visit, said that "we've seen a lot of people expressing a lot of interest in furthering a plant based diet" at Penn, and with the help of Schlimm's recipes, the samples of food prepared and offered to students was "without compare. The food flew off the tables before the meals were half over."

Krejci counted the series as a big success: "We're incredibly pleased by the response to John being here," she said, calling Shclimm "one of the most personable individuals I've had the pleasure of speaking with." All in all, she noted his presence made for "a great opportunity for furthering vegan discourse on campus."

I should add that having "met" him only via email, meeting the guy in person on Tuesday at Grindcore House was the icing on the cake of a fantastic day. While he didn't exactly lean into my face and elbow me in the ribs, Schlimm in the flesh is just as enthusiastic and FUN as his high-voltage writing style implies.

While The Cheesy Vegan, not surprisingly, is the current focus, what Schlimm promotes the most in all his books and appearances is the lively joy that plant-based eating and living can bring. If you haven't checked out his works, get on it, and keep up with his escapades here. If you're in DC, look out, because having taken Philly's vegan community by storm, the force of nature that is John Schlimm will be hitting there at any moment!