Dayton chef competes on vegan cooking show: ‘Being surrounded by greatness, it just makes you want to be great’

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

Dayton native Rhea Adkins, who owns Vegan It IZ Eats at 2nd Street Market, will appear on an all new vegan, competitive cooking series called “Top Vegan.”

“We’re trying to make something that I think is severely lacking in the competitive cooking reality series as a whole,” said the show’s director Logan Solana, in a release. “We want to show the world that going vegan is possible in 2023, and you don’t have to give up the things you love on an all vegan diet.”

According to the release, eight contestants compete at Mitchell Hall, Columbus State’s culinary facility, completing challenges. At the end of each episode, one contestant will be eliminated. The show is hosted by Chad Goodwin, a vegan restaurateur and actor from Columbus who owns 4th & State and Eden Burger.

“It was a really great experience,” said Adkins, 34. “It was such a breath of fresh air to be around other creatives.”

She told a vegan chef tagged her in an Instagram post about the show. She submitted an application and the next thing she knew she had the opportunity to be on the show. Filming took place in July 2022.

Adkins said getting a group of vegan chefs together in one kitchen doesn’t happen often.

“When I say that was one of the most authentic moments I have felt in a while when it comes to food, I can truly say that because everyone there gets it,” Adkins said. “Vegans eat more than a tiny bit of options.”

Adkins, who started cooking at 4 years old, previously said she started experimenting with plant-based recipes after a spiritual fast. She explained she became more conscious of what she was eating and realized she started to feel a lot better. During that time, her mother, Rosalind, also had a cancer scare. In turn she started helping her mom cook healthier meals at home.

At that point, Adkins said she wasn’t thinking about starting a business. Her focus was being a social service supervisor and providing for her family. It wasn’t until her mother’s co-workers and friends starting tasting and requesting food that she decided to take her passion and love of cooking and turn it into a career.

Adkins opened Vegan It IZ Eats at 2nd Street Market, located at 600 E. Second St. in Dayton, in May 2022. She is a 2006 graduate of Stivers School for the Arts. She received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wright State University in 2011 and master’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2016. She also has certificates in holistic nutrition and holy yoga trauma sensitive.

Adkins said she never really thought she would be on TV but noted she is an aspiring actress who has been in several plays. She said her favorite part of the show was meeting so many talented vegan chefs.

“Being surrounded by greatness, it just makes you want to be great,” Adkins said.

She also appreciated seeing the behind-the-scenes aspect of a TV show.

“I feel really blessed and thankful,” Adkins said. ““To be able to experience this in life and to know everything you’ve gone through has led you to such a great monumental moment it is a breath of fresh air.”

Adkins is also the author of “Plant Based Jumpstart,” a book for those who are looking to start their plant-based journey.

Season one of “Top Vegan” premieres on April 20. The show will be available for free on its YouTube channel. For more information, visit or the show’s Instagram page (@topvegantv).

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