Food fests need to be creative, innovative: Experts

MUMBAI, Jan 25:
As food is increasingly being celebrated with much aplomb in the form of festivals, experts feel it has become a lucrative forum for everyone to jump on the bandwagon but stress that “innovation and creativity” has to be the focus of this ‘art’ form.
“Food seems to have become a lucrative forum so it’s only natural for everyone to jump on the bandwagon,” Farzana Contractor, Publisher and Editor of UpperCrust food magazine, said.
“I agree there are many food fests happening these days, some good, some mediocre. While the spotlight is on food and should be, it does get diluted due to commercial pressures and the tendency is to mix food stalls with artifacts and even fashion stalls,” said Contractor, who is hosting the UpperCrust Food & Wine Show from January 27-29 at the World Trade Centre here.
Asked whether such festivals focus on food innovation or are business events, Goa-based author and noted food critic Odette Mascarenhas said, “It depends solely on the promoter. There are many event companies who run the food festivals on a business/commercial basis. However, I am of the opinion that innovation and creativity in food preparations has to be the focus, if one wants to call it a ‘food’ festival. Otherwise it becomes just a ‘festival’.”
Contractor says the UpperCrust show, in its 14th year now, is “about all things food and drink” and it caters to both the business sector and general consumers – food lovers.
On the kind of food innovation seen in the last one decade, she said, “Well, the whole world is catering to the youth of today, who don’t know much about what contributes to good food. Neither do they really care.
“For them, good food is equal to good times. And good time could mean good music, good company, good atmosphere, beer and booze. So knowledge about traditional, regional food which is the epitome of cuisines, is zilch. Therefore, in India the play has been on popular world food and how it can be adapted to be serve as finger foods and quick bites or at best in small plates which can be shared,” she said.
She said over the years they had people not just from India but from all over the world coming to showcase their food and ingredients.
“Tea from Assam, rice from Punjab, spices from South India, sweets from the North…There was wine from France, Italy, South Africa, even Argentina and Israel,” she said. (PTI)