The 2-day inaugural Food For Thought Fest
had personalities sharing views on culinary as well as regional matters. Active participants included, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, M.P, noted author & opinion leader; Mohammad Azharuddin, former Indian cricketer & politician; Bishen Singh Bedi, spin legend of Indian cricket; Nikhil Chopra, former cricketer; Sudhir Mishra, national award winning film director; Gaurav Gogoi, M.P from Assam; Chef Abhijit Saha of the famed Caperberry, Fava and SAHA restaurants; Gautam Anand, seasoned hotelier from ITC hotels and passionate foodie; Chef Manjit Gill, Corporate Chef of ITC hotels; Kishore Singh, noted journalist, author and publisher, Delhi Art Gallery; Ruchira Hoon Philip, renowned foodie and journalist; Neha Prasad, noted author of cook book; Chef Aditya Bal of Spice Craft; Chef Asma Said Khan, Meeta Mishra, Editor, Magna Publications; AD Singh, socialite; Nawab Kazim Ali Khan of Rampur; Shivkaran Singh, Karen Anand, Vinita Dawra Nangia, Suresh Hinduja,
among other opinion leaders, noted scholars, journalists, authors and food lovers, besides, the
hosts Maneesh Baheti
and wife Sonali Baheti
, along with Advaita Kala
, Founders of South Asian Association for Gastronomy. Visiting dignitaries from other SAARC countries included, Ramika Ahmad (Afghanistan); Rubina Farouq; Nahid Osman; Alpana Habib; Ashiqur Rahman (Bangladesh); Bharat Basnet (Nepal); Kesang Choedon (Bhutan) and Saman Nayananda (Sri Lanka).
During the 2-day inaugural food festival held on October 17 & 18 at India Habitat Centre, chefs from SAARC nations showcased their specialties, while participants from various fields were given themes on cultural and political issues to discuss while relishing the novel delicacies.
The Festival was divided into “Thought Fest”
and “Food Fest”
. Throughout the 2 days of festival, sessions and workshops on various interesting topics around traditional gastronomy and its ongoing evolution were conducted from 10.30 am – 5.30 pm, whereby participants had the opportunity to engage in contemporary issues with the most progressive-minded panellists, learning from the greatest chefs in the region, exploring fascinating topics related to food and beyond. All this while they treated their taste buds to the most splendid flavours that the subcontinent has to offer. The “South Asia Culinary Showcase”
presented cookery workshops and demonstrations conducted by invited chefs who showcased the high points of their culinary traditions.
According to Maneesh Baheti, Founder of SAAG, “The idea was to promote regional unity through the culinary diversity in South Asia.
The Food For Thought Fest will be an annual event in India bringing together the most interesting issues, professionals and food from the SAARC countries of South Asia. We have learnt a lot during the inaugural Food Fest and we hope to excel further in this endeavour next year. The Food for Thought Festival was conceived as a convergence of people for the exchange of ideas and dialogues around gastronomy, in the process enabling an atmosphere of South Asian commonality through culinary and cultural diversity.”
Besides, renowned restaurants from the participating nations also set up their pop-up outlets during the two-day fest. These included, Kasturi Garden,
Dhaka - authentic Bangladesh cuisine; Heritage Restaurant,
Dhaka – modern Bangladeshi food; Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant
, Thimpu - a mix of traditional and modern Bhutanese cuisine; Bhojan Griha,
Kathmandu - authentic Newari and Rana cuisines of Nepal; Serena Hotel
, Kabul, - the famed robust cuisine of Afghanistan; Taj Samudra
– Sri Lanka – authentic Sri Lankan cuisines. Seeing the ongoing Navratras, these restaurants also had special vegetarian dishes along with their traditional fare.
Delhi Art Gallery also presented The Still-Life Project at Food For Thought Fest where the visitors too painted enthusiastically on the wall. The project was intended to draw attention to this style of painting by encouraging the audience to paint similar compositions that could become the largest still-life work.
The culmination of the 1st Food For Thought Fest
happened with a special live performance of Javed Bashir, Pakistani’s noted Ghazal singer on October 18, 2015. Routes2Roots, a non-profit, non commercial organization that promotes Cultural Diplomacy across the world, hosted Javed Bashir’s live performance, ‘Building Bridges of Peace’ at IHC. Javed has lent his voice to hit Bollywood songs, ‘Mera Yaar’ and Tera Naam Japti Phiran’. Routes2Roots have hosted cultural events in more than 12 countries and 30 cities and was the Cultural Partner of the 2-day event.