February 2015, Denver CO: Seven Johnson & Wales University (JWU) culinary nutrition students, under the guidance of Chef Adam Sacks, created and built the World’s Heaviest Vegan Banana Split, a record submitted for Guinness World Records. The final weigh-in totaled 1,204 pounds—over a half ton of toppings and student-made vegan bean-based ice cream.

Seven Johnson & Wales University (JWU) culinary nutrition students

Seven Johnson & Wales University (JWU) culinary nutrition students

“This is what makes culinary nutrition students unique—they are able to take a traditional concept, modify it, and create something healthier without a sensory sacrifice,” said Chef Sacks. “Most importantly, this is something we wanted to share with the community.”
The Denver community was invited to take part and about 300 people arrived to help—from putting the cherries on top to tasting the finished 21-foot-long sundae. This end-of-term class project was part of JWU Denver’s vegetarian cuisine course, where curriculum is focused on the daily production and preparation of nutritionally balanced vegetarian diets within three classifications: vegan, lacto-, and lacto-ovo vegetarian.

Chef Sacks likes to explore vegan cuisine. “Vegan curriculum is most important to teach because it doesn’t use any animal products. Students are accustomed to relying on those animal products, and we provide the opportunity to learn a bounty of healthy, compassionate flavors that are just as tasty and satisfying.”

Students in the vegetarian cuisine course also learn a variety of cultural and global perspectives, as well as economics and health reasons that support the growing interest in learning to create vegan cuisine.

Banana Split by the Numbers(all components vegan)

• 738.25 pounds assorted made-from-scratch ice cream
• Flavors included: chocolate mole, coconut mojo, blueberry balsamic, sweet corn and jalapeño, Turkish coffee, pumpkin chai, strawberry basil, mango ginger, and piña colada.
• Approximately 137 pounds of cooked beans used to prepare the ice cream • 202.4 pounds peeled bananas
• 262.29 pounds toppings: granola, blueberries, strawberries, assorted nuts, brownies, cookies, shredded coconut, cherries
• 32.8 pounds whipped cream
• 15.26 pounds chocolate letters JWU

Chocolate Mole Vegan Ice Cream

Yield: approx. 1 quart
2 cups black beans, cooked, cooled, drained (if using canned: drain, rinse well)
3 cups soy milk or rice milk (vanilla or chocolate)
1/3 cup cocoa powder (can add more if you are a self-proclaimed “chocoholic”)
2 Tbsp peanut butter (optional, can use PB powder)
2 tsp chili powder (can vary depending on your own heat index)
1 tsp ancho or chipotle powder (can vary for your preference for these flavors or “smokiness”)
variable amount of evaporated cane sugar (can be used to accommodate a sweet tooth)

Place all ingredients in blender and process until really, really, really smooth. Adjust seasonings and mix again until perfect. The flavors should be intense. If not, adjust! The flavor profile needs to be strong at room temp because when you freeze mixture the flavors will be dulled. You need to compensate for the cooling down of product.
Once happy, place contents in ice-cream maker and churn until creamy delicious. If you don’t have ice-cream maker, freeze mixture and process in food processor; the end result won’t be ice-cream, but more like a creamy slushy. Any way you make it, this will be a yummy complement to a Latin-inspired meal.

Chef Adam Sacks, MS, RD, CCC, CRC is a chef instructor and sports nutritionist at JWU, where he devotes his energy to inspiring the next generation of chefs to be conscientious stewards of their communities and planet. He is currently weighing the possibilities for the next record-setting outreach for Vegan Cuisine Month 2016. (This article appeared in American Vegan magazine, fall 2015.)

Photos courtesy JWU.edu.