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Ubud Food Festival 2017: Every Flavor is a Story

Indonesian chefs, local produce and the vibrant future of Indonesia’s food industry in the spotlight at UFF17

From the moment the gates opened to the final mouthful, the third Ubud Food Festival (UFF) was enjoyed by more than 9,000 hungry foodies from 12–14 May. Its colorful multivenue space played host to more than 100 events set against the backdrop of Ubud’s iconic Campuhan Ridge.

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The incredible diversity of Indonesia’s cuisines, outstanding Indonesian chefs and entrepreneurs, and the bright future of the nation’s culinary industry took center stage – a testament to Indonesia’s rising culinary status which has been championed by the Ubud Food Festival over the past three years.

At the Festival Hub and in venues around Ubud and the island, over 100 speakers from across the archipelago and the Southeast Asian region plated up hundreds of different dishes, and delved deep into the region’s – and the world’s – food landscape.

In what will become a permanent fixture for UFF, the all-Indonesian free cooking demonstration stage Teater Kuliner attracted standing room only audiences at almost every session. Its popularity encapsulates the Festival’s mission of showcasing Indonesia’s diverse cuisines, brilliant chefs and extraordinary local produce. Indonesian heroes and rising stars delighted fans with contemporary interpretations of much-loved classics, such as Fernando Sindu’s lontong sayur, and Ibu Sisca Soewitomo’s fish soup. Charles Toto, the Jungle Chef from Papua, challenged his eager audience to try live sago worms foraged from the Papuan highlands, and sample a slice of sago pizza.

Indonesian chefs were also in the spotlight at the Kitchen Stage. Petty Elliot tantalized foodies with a sweet tooth with her perfect coconut pudding, as did self-taught TV supercook Bara Pattiradjawane with wingko babat, a traditional Javanese cake.

International chefs treated audiences to fresh Southeast Asian flavors featuring Bali’s bounty of local produce, such as Chele González’s Filipino-style squid, Tasia and Gracia Seger’s childhood favorite fried fish with green papaya salad, and Joannès Rivière’s Cambodian-style black sticky rice and scallops.

With panels on sustainable fisheries and farming, regenerative agriculture, food systems and local and global ecological challenges, the Festival’s free Think, Talk, Taste series generated vital themes. Community-driven solutions to environmental problems, and the crucial need to support producers to become ‘farmerpreneurs’ were canvased, while panelists often emphasized consumers’ responsibility to create change.

“The power is with the consumer. The consumer drives the market. If you want seafood to be sustainable, you must be the one to demand it,” said Fair Trade Manager of Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia Foundation, Yasmine Simbolon, in her panel session on supporting sustainable seafood.

Creating new linkages between local chefs and those from across Southeast Asia, the UFF’s Special Events featured dynamic collaborations in some of Bali’s top venues. The Locavore team plated up alongside Chele González to celebrate Indonesia and the Philippines’ food scenes; Fernando Sindu and Erwan Wijaya created contemporary Indonesian cuisine; and The Night Rooster’s Raka Ambarawan introduced mixologists to Indonesia’s rare exotic fruits.

“Food is like a language,” explained Founder and Director Janet DeNeefe. “It’s how we express ourselves. For three days at Ubud Food Festival, thousands of people spoke the same language. We shared all that is meaningful and wonderful about Indonesia, which the world is finally waking up to. Our mission goes much deeper than sharing Indonesian food – we’re putting the spotlight on the archipelago’s talented and hardworking chefs, cooks, farmers, entrepreneurs, food writers, photographers and restaurateurs. From the top-rated restaurants to our beloved warungs, at UFF we celebrate them all.”

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