Browsing articles in "food festivals"
Mar 1, 2014
Tina George

Past and present converge in Taal Vista

TAAL VISTA Lodge in the midcentury

Under a billowy canopy, a long dining table stretched out on Taal Vista Hotel’s veranda, overlooking the misty volcano.

Cabbage roses, hydrangeas, cymbidiums, orchids, snapdragons, African daisies, bells of Irelands, rice flowers, brassicas and eucalyptus leaves popped out of country-style pots, jars and wooden boxes. Between gourmet courses, a parade of waiters brought the dishes and seamlessly cleared the plates.

ELIZABETH Sy, Walid Wafik and celebrity chefs with the hotel’s Tudor architecture in the background

A string quartet played sentimental music. The unexpected high style and pomp revealed that the hotel wasn’t the fusty lodge of yore, but rather a destination of unprecedented standards in Tagaytay.

Since 7 a.m., the waiters had been rehearsing their procession, the sequence of serving the meals, and familiarizing themselves with the guest list.

The guests were journalists who attended the launch of Taal Vista Hotel’s 75th anniversary activities. They were feted with exquisite meals by celebrity chefs who will be holding their own food festivals at the hotel in the midyear.

Tudor Revival architecture

ELEGANT country-style table setting during the press launch of Taal Vista’s 75th anniversary

Built by the Zamora family, the then Taal Vista Lodge opened its doors on Oct. 7, 1939. Mimicking a cottage in the English countryside, the hotel adapted the roof and half-timber framework typical of the Tudor Revival architecture.

In the mid-20th century, Taal Vista was renovated into a modern structure.

The place was patronized by Manila’s elite, among them taipan Henry Sy, because of its resplendent view. His daughter Elizabeth, president of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp., recalled that the family enjoyed Taal Vista’s signature ice cream on a coconut shell while sitting at the veranda.

The taipan bought the property in 1988 and assigned the younger Sy to run the business. Having lived in Europe with building codes on preserving old architecture, she reverted to the hotel’s original Tudor style. Despite the extensive expansion and renovations, the hotel maintained its original facade. “People wanted to demolish it and make it boxy. I said, let’s keep the heritage look. In the past, the lobby was enclosed. You had to go out to look at the views,” Sy recalled.

ROOMS at the Mountain Wing get a fresh look

Sheathed with expanses of tempered glass, the renovated lobby blurs the boundary between the ridge and the inside. With more guest rooms and banquet facilities, it was renamed Taal Vista Hotel.

Sy also retained the cultural dance show, still a major attraction for the guests and their balikbayan friends, and opened the grounds for the children to enjoy.

“Taal Vista was part of your memory as kids. I want to build this for the next generations,” said Sy.



Walid Wafik, area manager of Taal Vista Hotel, Pico Sands Hotel and Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club, gave a tour of the renovations of Taal Vista guest rooms and ballrooms in the Mountain Wing, the lobby lounge and the underground meeting rooms. They were all spruced up with fresh color schemes and rich fabrics.

The lobby lounge

“With the changes, we wanted to make this anniversary grand. This isn’t the hotel that people once thought it was. Let them hear about the hotel and see it again. They will keep coming back. It’s a nice product, and the place has value. When I first joined the hotel, everybody whom I spoke with said they’ve been here. A famous place like this deserves some recognition,” said Wafik.

The Egyptian hotelier has served the Shangri-La Hotel Group for a decade. He was resident manager of Shangri-La Mactan before joining the SM Hotel and Resorts, owners of Taal Vista Hotel and the Pico de Loro estate.

Two years ago, Wafik did his homework on TripAdvisor, the official site for tourist reviews. He was amazed that Taal Vista ranked No. 9 among hotels in Tagaytay.  How could a pioneering 261-room hotel with facilities  such as two ballrooms and several function rooms fall way behind a seven-room bed-and-breakfast inn which was voted No. 1?

FOR GENERATIONS, the hotel has offered the choicest spot for enjoying the Taal lake and volcano view

Wafik studied the hundreds of feedback from the guests. “Something was wrong. Nobody has my space, my banqueting rooms, my landscape and the number of rooms, why can they beat me? I put myself in the guests’ shoes. What can I do to make their visit a good experience? After reading their comments about the room, food and service, you start tweaking to amend the services and set a benchmark,” he said.

Wafik worked fastidiously from the staff service to the restrooms. “I didn’t want the employees to carry their old habits. They need to have presence of mind. It’s not just standing and serving for eight hours and then going home. We created a culture, training them on how to smile, how to attend to guests, how to answer the phone, how to greet. It’s not where to put the plate. It’s the interaction with guests that makes a difference.”

Consequently, Taal Vista climbed to TripAdvisor’s No. 1 hotel in Tagaytay. In 2013, the occupancy rate went up to 55 percent from 30-40 percent the previous year.  Likewise, the hotel set a record 54 days of 100-percent occupancy—as in fully booked—last year. Although Taal Vista is known for conferences and banquets, especially on weekdays, it becomes a family vacation place on weekends.

Heritage cuisine

Since the hotel is patronized by the domestic market, the restaurant fare is a mix of Filipino and international dishes. Its specialty is the heritage cuisine which uses local produce and fresh catch from Tagaytay, all served in native pots.

Chef consultant Babes Austria collaborated with local farmers to supply the hotel.

During a trip to Pico de Loro, she discovered sugarcane and Batangueño vinegar which wasn’t too acidic. These became the inspiration for “Adobo Sa Tubo ni Tatang,” the favorite dish of the Sy patriarch, who is fondly called “Tatang.” The sugarcane neutralizes the sour and salty flavors of the classic adobo recipe.

Austria also concocted another of Sy’s favorites, tinola using native chicken, sili leaves and green papaya.

Her ukoy, made of tagunton or baby prawns, is sweet and fleshy unlike the other ukoy-ukoy in which the flour masks the flavor of the shrimps.

She also developed the hotel’s famous sardines, made with bangus cooked for eight hours in olive oil and tawilis from Talisay.

Austria also cultivated a vegetable garden in the hotel which produces oak leaf lettuce, Brussels sprouts, cherry tomatoes and mint leaves that enhance the flavor of desserts and marination.

Executive chef Edwin Santos, with 20 years of experience with the Shangri-La hotels, said that bulalo is the most popular fare among Taal Vista guests. He introduced an international style in which bulalo steak is served on a sizzling plate, accompanied by gravy.

The guests also crave the plated kare-kare, the inasal and the spring rolls with jackfruit.

Santos and the hotel’s corporate chef are girding for the opening of the Magnolia Steakhouse this summer. Santos is unfazed by the competition from Tagaytay’s other famous restaurants.

“The steaks will be different in texture and cooking style. We will offer a wide selection of meats that will be grilled, roasted or char-broiled, char-grilled or pan-seared according to specifications. You can have the roast prime rib cut in different sizes and weights,” said Santos.

The new steakhouse will be vegetarian-friendly. In his previous stint as executive chef of Shangri-La Maldives, he developed a wide repertoire of meatless options due to Muslim and vegetarian guests in the resort. “We can make a grilled vegetable cutlet, served like a burger with chimichurri sauce without the onions and garlic,” he said.


Taal Vista Hotel has come up with several promotions leading up to its 75th anniversary.

On social media, fans have been sending photos of their visits. Every month the hotel will run the guest list and reward the 75th and the 193rd guests with a P75 room rate. The hotel will also hold sales booths in high-traffic SM malls where people can get good rates for accommodations and dining.

From July to October, Cafe Veranda will feature prominent chefs. Aside from Austria and Santos, Jackie and Rolando Laudico, Fernando Aracama, Sau del Rosario and Bruce Lim will concoct special dishes at the weekend lunch and buffet.

On Oct. 7, a weekday, the hotel will honor its long-serving employees. The celebration will culminate in an Art Deco-theme ball on Oct. 9.

“This isn’t the old Taal Vista Lodge. It’s new and competitive. I want this to be the only top hotel in Tagaytay,” declared Wafik.

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Mar 1, 2014
Tina George

Things already hotting up for this year’s Christchurch Food Festival with …

Things already hotting up for this year’s Christchurch Food Festival with special appearance from Cyrus Todiwala

TV CHEF: Cyrus Todiwala

THINGS are hotting up for this year’s Christchurch Food Festival which takes place on the weekend of May 10-11.

This year will see special appearances from the festival’s patron Lesley Waters, as well as Cyrus Todiwala, a regular guest on Saturday Kitchen and co-presenter of BBC’s The Incredible Spice Men, who will both demonstrate their amazing cooking skills over the weekend The Christchurch Food and Wine Festival was originally held as an event to celebrate the Millennium in 2000 and its success that year led the organisers to make it an annual event, now in its 15th year.

The idea for the event came from Mary Reader, then at Christchurch Chamber of Trade and Commerce, to promote Christchurch as a place to visit, which in turn would help to promote the town’s businesses where there were already many great eateries.

The festival built on this as well as developing it as a community event which aimed to educate people in healthy eating especially with the work of the Festival’s Education Trust, which focuses on the local schools, as well as organising the Kids’ Kitchen, which is a favourite event each year at the festival.

Now seen as one of the best food festivals in the UK, it has attracted a number of celebrity chefs over the years including: Anton Edelman, James Martin, Gary Rhodes, Jean-Christophe Novelli, Paul Rankin, Brian Turner and Nick Nairn, to name just a few. Well-known TV chef Lesley Waters is a regular at the event and has now become the patron of the festival The festival has gone from strength to strength with new events, ideas and offers each year. This year it has expanded its events for youngsters.

Following the success of the Kids’ Kitchen at previous events, this year there will be more workshops at two venues. Four Kids’ Kitchen workshops will be taking place at The Priory School in Wick Lane on the same days as the Festival Market – Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11 – with a further two at The Kings Arms Hotel in Castle Street.

All six sessions have been sponsored by the Rotary Club of Christchurch and Waitrose, Christchurch. All workshops will last for an hour and a half and cost £5 per person.

The workshops with Lesley Waters have sold out already. Festival president Mary Reader said: “We are extremely grateful to The Rotary Club and Waitrose for their support for these workshops, which means we have been able to keep the cost of each session down and expand into two venues.

“I am confident any young person taking part will not only learn some valuable cookery skills but also have fun.”

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Mar 1, 2014
Tina George

Bets Bets: Authors Cantor, Bushnell at Village Books

Jeremy Bushnell and Rachel Cantor read from their recently published debut novels at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at Village Books, 1200 11th St.

Bushnell’s “The Weirdness” kicks off with a deal from the Devil: struggling writer Billy Ridgeway is hung over and late for work when Lucifer Morningstar turns up to tempt him with fair trade coffee and a five-figure book deal.

All he has to do is track down the Neko of Infinite Equilibrium, a lucky cat statue currently in the hands of the most powerful warlock on the eastern seaboard.

The Devil’s bidding sends Billy on a wild chase across New York City, leading Billy to discover his own strength, harnessing his powers as a hell-wolf and ultimately fighting the warlock face-to-face.

It’s a Faustian tale for the 20th century.

Bushnell is the fiction editor for, and is also the lead developer of Inevitable, a tabletop game released by Dystopian Holdings. He teaches writing at Northeastern University in Boston, and he lives in Dedham, Mass.

Cantor’s “A Highly Unlikely Scenario: Or, a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World” has earned her comparisons to Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut and Italo Calvino.

A wildly fun sci-fi adventure through a dystopia where fast food chains rule the world, it follows Leonard, a customer service rep for the Pythagorean pizza chain Neetsa Pizza, has to break out of his comfort zone to embark on an adventure to save the world.

Cantor was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and raised in Rome. She worked for jazz festivals in France and food festivals in Australia before getting degrees in international development and fiction writing.

She lives in Brooklyn.


It’s your last chance to see “Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art, 1775-2012,” which shows through Sunday, March 2, at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building, 250 Flora St.

“Vanishing Ice” introduces the artistic legacy of the planet’s frozen frontiers now threatened by climate change, a phenomenon understood by the public primarily through news of devastating climactic events.

Comprised of 70 works of art, the exhibition offers another perspective by providing visitors an opportunity to experience the majesty of sublime landscapes – glaciers, icebergs, and fields of ice – that have inspired artists, writers, and naturalists for more than 200 years, thematically and chronologically.

Details: 360-778-8930,


Indulge in an evening of varied pleasures – food, drink, words, music, laughter and general nonsense -from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Monday, March 3, at the Honey Moon, 1053 N. State St. in the alley behind Pepper Sisters.

Warm your belly with a simple supper of Irish stew and such, plus plenty of mead and cider.

Entertainments include selected readings from James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake,” delivered by an illustrious line-up of local literarians, including Robert Lashley, Pete Irving and Tad Kroening, as well as musical improvisations by Harper Stone of Hot Damn Scandal. Subdued Excitement at its finest!

Cost is $15 for dinner and your first drink.

Reservations are encouraged; 360-734-0728.

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Mar 1, 2014
Tina George

Tastes from Chennai to Delhi

Food Mall at Bapuji Nagar has simultaneously launched two food festivals much to the delight of its customers from Friday. While ‘The Great Kebab Festival’ is underway at ‘Spice Garden’, the ‘Idli Dosa Festival’ is on at ‘Food Junction’. Both the festivals will continue for a month.


The ‘Idli Dosa Festival’ has as many as 40 varieties on the platter with flavours coming in from Chennai. Interestingly, quite a few dishes are an interesting fusion of South Indian and Chinese, be it an Idli Manchurian, a Chilly Mushroom Dosa or the Chinese. All the dosas and idlis will be served with five types of chutneys to relish. Besides those with a Chinese twist, a few must-try dishes include the Idli French Fry which the children would love, the Alam Dosa, the Mysore Masala Dosa, Mint Gunpowder Dosa and the Set Dosa.

The Festival will start at four every day and will continue till 10 at night.

‘’Although the dishes are being prepared by our chefs, we had experts coming in from Chennai to train them. This is one festival that food lovers will enjoy as it isn’t just Chennai here, we have added a little bit of China to it too and yes we are also giving away complimentary drinks,’’ says owner Milind Gupta.

DELHI on platter

With an enviable variety to offer, ‘The Great Kebab Festival’ vouches for that authentic taste one finds in the famous kebabs of Delhi. With 15 types of veg kebabs and 12 different non-veg kebabs that include mutton, chicken, fish and prawn, this one is an unlimited bonanza for kebab lovers as it comes in the form of a buffet.

“The variety that we are offering here is something that even a Kebab Factory does not provide. And, that’s why we have done a buffet where one can have unlimited kebabs followed by dinner which is also unlimited,’’ informs Gupta.While the veg buffet comes for ` 349 per person, the non-veg is priced at ` 549 per person. For the non-veg buffet, besides the 12 types of non-veg kebabs, three varieties of veg kebabs will also be on the platter.

‘We had chefs from Delhi coming in to train our people and all the kebabs are being served with three types of chutneys and salad,’’ adds Gupta.

While most of the kebabs are worth a try, a few that will definitely tickle your taste buds include the Kela Kebab, Anaas Ka Phul Kebab (pineapple), Dahi Kebab, Paneer Launglata, Akbari Kebab and Baby Corn Kebab in the veg platter and Mutton Tikki, Murg Malai Kebab, Achaari Chicken and Lajawaab Chicken Kebabs, Jhinga Kebab and Fish Amritsari Kebab in the non-veg platter.

‘’The whole idea of organising two festivals at a time is to give the people a different taste and I believe we will succeed in doing that,’’ concludes Gupta.

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Mar 1, 2014
Tina George

Now That South Beach’s Food and Wine Festival is Over, Head to Charleston

As far as the good stuff is concernedlike the eating and drinkingfestival organizers will set something up theyre calling a culinary village. Thats where you will find 40 food and wine vendors from across the country, and it will lead those in attendance to things like the main event tent, artisan market, and beer garden.

Theres plenty of events and offerings throughout the festival, but of course thats all going to cost you. If you want to go all in and just do everything and anything whenever you want the $315 party animal pass will get you access to pretty much everything. There are some exclusions, but the inclusions are an oyster roast, a rigs, pigs, and swigs event, and even an after hours shindig sponsored by JetBlue.

For those looking to book individual events its not a problem, as festival organizers are happy to sell those to you as well. Tickets start at around $40 and head upwards from there, and there are plenty of offerings around that price point. Individual events seem to top out at between $150 and $175, so you definitely will need to prioritize your needs and wants when it comes to attendance.

Of course theres plenty to check out in Charleston as well, so be sure to save some cash to check out the scene in South Carolina as well.

[Photo: Official Site / Facebook]

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Feb 28, 2014
Tina George

Charles Campion and Melissa Cole show their support at the Richmond Fine …

Charles Campion and Melissa Cole

There was a party in Richmond this week to celebrate the launch of the Richmond Fine Food and Real Ale Festival which takes place on August Bank Holiday, 23rd-25th August 2014.

Charles Campion, food writer and critic, welcomed the audience of top chefs, brewers and local food business owners by expressing his ‘delight’ at being associated with the event.

‘There is nothing I like more than good quality local food coupled with great beer. As well as providing the perfect showcase for local businesses this festival promises to be a great day out!’

Melissa Cole, beer writer and sommelier joined Charles on stage:

‘Beer and food is a match made in heaven and I’m delighted that FAB Festivals are going to be bringing those together under one roof. I’m extremely excited to be working with this event’

The Richmond Fine Food and Real Ale Festival sets itself apart from other food festivals. You can expect all the usual attractions: demonstrations by top chefs, tasting theatres, culinary talks and a host of artisan food to sample and buy. The point of difference is that this event is also a full scale beer festival offering traditional cask ale as well as craft beer and celebrating the marriage between food and beer. In addition there is also an impressive music line up across two stages making this an ultimate day out!

Situated on Old Deer Park, a short walk from Richmond town centre and very accessible by public transport, this festival offers great value for money.

What Richmond people had to say:

‘This Event is a wonderful opportunity for people to find out more about Richmond’s wonderful places to eat, drink and shop and the superb range of produce, much of it local.’
Councillor Pamela Fleming, Borough of Richmond

‘The biggest event happening this year in Richmond is the Richmond Food and Ale Festival’
Con O’Brien, Town Centre Manager, Richmond

‘When The Crawdaddy Club Richmond was asked by FAB Festivals to be involved with the inaugural Richmond Fine Food and Real Ale Festival I jumped at the opportunity. The Borough of Richmond has an amazing musical history from the early sixties when The Crawdaddy Club was at the forefront of the British RB revolution headed by The Rolling Stones and it is an honour to continue that heritage. Great food, great beer and great music! What is there not to like!’
Mike Rivers, Crawdaddy Club Richmond

For more information or to book tickets visit []
Tickets are also on sale at Visit Richmond

To contact the Richmond FAB Festival team:
01905 731137

This press release was distributed by SourceWire News Distribution on behalf of Three Pears Events in the following categories:
Entertainment Arts, Leisure Hobbies, Food Drink.
For more information visit

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Feb 28, 2014
Tina George

F&B industry gearing up for 29th edition of Aahar, commencing March 10

The 29th essay of Aahar – organised by the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) and slated to take place at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan between March 10 and 14, 2014 – would bring overseas and Indian buyers, importers, wholesalers and suppliers of food, hoteliers, overseas trade delegations, business houses and policy-makers together.

The event would be supported by the ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI), the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA), the Association of Resource Companies for Hospitality Industries (ARCHII), the Hotel and Restaurant Equipment Manufacturers’ Association and the All India Food Processors’ Association (AIFPA).

It would have two concurrent exhibitions – Food India (covering food and beverages, processed foods and food additives) and Hospitality India (covering hotel and restaurant equipment). Although the event is for trade visitors only, it would be open to the general public between 2pm and 6pm on the last day.

Over 700 exhibitors are likely to take part in this year’s exhibition, which exceeds the number of exhibitors at last year’s essay (676). The organisers have incorporated Hall Number 18 and some open space, making it larger than the previous edition, which covered a gross area of 41,666,84sq m.

Layout for Aahar 2014
Halls 15 and 18 (Upper and Lower) – Food, food ingredients and additives: Fruit and vegetables; dairy products; bakery and confectionery products; organic and health products; meat and poultry products; processed foods; non-alcoholic beverages; food ingredients; fine food; food preservatives, and chocolates

Hall 18 (Foyer) – Alcoholic beverages and cheese (new)
Halls 7D, 7E, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 12A and 14 – Food and beverage equipment: Bakery and confectionery equipment; kitchen equipment; kitchen and food service; kitchenware equipment  (crockery/cutlery/chaffing dishes); food and beverage equipment; food processing, packaging equipment and machinery, and poultry, farm equipment and supplies

Halls 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7A, B, C, F, G and H – Housekeeping: Building, construction and air-conditioning; laundry, interior and housekeeping; air and water (pollution control equipment and accessories); festival products; furniture and interior decoration; gardening and lighting; gifts and presentation; guest room products; health club, sport and fitness equipment; fabrics, textiles and made-ups; culinary show and open space for organic food

Various organisations would host seminars to discuss issues pertaining to the development of their particular sector, and companies would host culinary shows to showcase their products. Food festivals would be another highlight of the event.

Prominent among the seminars would be the ones on ‘The Environmental Concerns of the Hospitality Industry’ by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India; ‘Food Regulations in India’ by AIFPA, and the Indian Biscuits and Confectionary Congress 2014 on March 10, 11 and 12, 2014, respectively.

During the five-day event, ITPO expects several thousands of visitors from various parts of the world, including India, Australia, Canada, the United States, the Middle-East, Europe and South-East Asia to gather at Pragati Maidan. Last year, 24,016 visitors attended it, and this year, the expected footfall is about 25,000 visitors. The expectations were based on a steady growth in terms of participation and area of the event.

“The number of participating companies in 2010 was 460 (of which 25 were from overseas) and the area was 13,018sq m. In 2011, this increased to 514 participants and an areas of 15,800sq m. A total of 565 companies participated the following year. Of these, 72 were from overseas. It covered an area of 18,824sq m,” the organisers informed.

“Last year’s event was the largest in terms of area as well – it covered an area of 19,476sq m. This year, the area is expected to touch the 20,000sq m-mark,” they added.

About 363 of the 436 exhibitors at the 2013 edition 363 participants confirmed that they would participate this year.

Another highlight of this year’s event is the display windows, which have been arranged on both sides of the road leading to Gate Number 7, the primary entry point for the event. The display windows would help companies highlight the glimpses of their offerings to the visitors, encouraging them to reach out to their pavilion.

This year, ITPO has 60 display windows in place. To streamline the entry into the event, the organisers have also arranged online visitors’ registration forms, enabling trade visitors to register online.

Dedicated cabs have been arranged to take visitors around the Pragati Maidan. The organisers informed that 30 Innova cabs have been arranged for this purpose. The halls have been linked with each other with red carpets to give visitors a feel-good factor.

Overview of the Indian food processing sector
The food processing sector is one of the largest sectors in India in terms of production, growth, consumption and export. India’s food processing sector covers fruit and vegetables; spices; meat and poultry; milk and milk products, alcoholic beverages, fisheries, plantation, grain processing; confectionery, chocolates and cocoa products; soy-based products; mineral water, high-protein foods, etc.

Since the liberalisation of the Indian economy in August 1991, there have been project proposals in various segments of the food and agro-processing industry. Besides this, the government has also approved proposals for joint ventures; foreign collaborations, industrial licenses and 100 per cent export-oriented units envisaging investments. Out of this, foreign investment is over Rs 10,000 crores.

India’s processed food exports amounted to Rs 38,150.86 crore in 2012-13, which included the shares of products like mango pulp (Rs 608.56 crore); dried and preserved vegetables (Rs 637.96 crore); other processed fruit and vegetable (Rs 1,733.06 crore); pulses (Rs 1,285 crore); groundnuts (Rs 4,065.36 crore); guar gum (Rs 21,287.01 crore); jaggery and confectionery (Rs 917.60 crore); cocoa products (Rs 293.92 crore); cereal preparations (Rs 2,240.76 crore); alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (Rs 1,909.37 crore) and miscellaneous preparations (Rs 1,712.06 crore).

The Indian food processing industry is primarily export-oriented. India’s geographical situation gives it the unique advantage of connectivity to Europe, the Middle-East, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Korea. An example of India’s location advantage is the volume of trade in agricultural products and processed foods between India and the Middle-East.

Retail, one of the largest sectors in the global economy (at $7 trillion), is going through a transition phase in India.

One of the prime factors for the non-competitiveness of the food processing industry is because of the cost and quality of marketing channels.

Globally, more than 72 per cent of the food sales occur through super stores. India presents a huge opportunity, and is all set for a big retail revolution.

India is the least saturated of the global markets (with a small organised retail), and is also the least competitive of all global markets.

(Source: APEDA)

In a chat with FnB News, Dalel Singh, general manager, Functional Division: Fair Services –II, ITPO, discussed various topics related to Aahar.


Tell us about Aahar 2014. What prominence does it have for the Indian food and hospitality sector?
Aahar, being the major food and hospitality event not only in India but globally as well, gives immense opportunity to the food and hospitality industries to get the largest footholds at one place. Aahar means business. We have participants who spent 75 per cent of their publicity budget on Aahar participation, and participants who started with a mere 9sqm space now asking for as much as 400sqm. There is a company from Germany, which is coming for the first time seeing the opportunity this event gives the participants. So, participating in this event is a must for food and hospitality companies to get opportunities to maximise their business.

What is the theme for Ahar for this year?

We do not have any theme as such but incorporated and expanded our focus towards creating a separate category for organic food. We got a very good response from exhibitors, as this is the segment which is catching the fancy of the public. About 30 exhibitors will showcase their products. From the year, we have also allocated space for wine and cheese. We expect at least 10 wine companies to participate this year. We are also in touch with the Karnataka Wine Board in this regard. The Ministry of Food Processing Industries is also hosting a wine tasting session this time

How big the event is against previous year in terms of participation and space?

The space has got bigger this year. Definitely there are certain constraints like continuity of halls, but this year, we have included Hall Numbers 6 and 18, and some open space for large machinery, which can’t be incorporated inside the hall. This is our first experiment. Last year, we created the show windows along the main road towards Gate Number 7, as most of the visitors enter from this gate. There was a demand from the exhibitors for the show windows, so this year, 60 such windows have been approved. This windows will serve as ad space for the companies to let visitors know about their products and obtain some information about the seminars.

What shall be the highlight of the event?

The highlight is the opportunity this event provides for the business. This event gives opportunities to suppliers, buyers, opinion makers, and consultants. They come and meet and it is the most cost-effective way to meet the relevant people in the respective industry, which would otherwise take time. Such events are the best way for the companies to find new markets, new buyers, new suppliers, new machines and equipment and consultant services who can tell you that there is a better way to manage your business.

How successful is the event in promoting the Indian food and hospitality sectors worldwide?

We had participation from the Federation of Indian Food Importers (FIFI) last year. They had 450sqm space, and this year they have demanded 1,000sq m. They realise the impact of the participation in this event. Be it wine and liquor, food additives, beverages or ingredients, India has a huge opportunity, which could be tapped at such an event.

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Feb 28, 2014
Tina George

Vegas Uncork’d offers 31 ways to taste the city

Though the Las Vegas dining scene is robust year-round, food lovers know that Mother’s Day weekend is special on the Strip. That’s when Vegas Uncork’d, sponsored by Bon Appétit, pairs up with some of the best chefs and restaurants in town for truly exclusive eating experiences, and this time they have some new tricks up their sleeves.

Now in its eighth year, the four-day event has always been filled with food-fantastic events such as high-end dinners with master chefs such as Guy Savoy, sushi-making and sake tasting with Nobu Matsuhisa, a wine pairing seminar with Master Sommelier Jason Smith and a pig roast by Michael Mina.

Today Vegas Uncork’d announced eight more events including a celebrity golf tournament with Mario Batali, a collaborative dinner with Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay, and lunch with Thomas Keller for a total of 31 ways to eat and drink your way around the Las Vegas Strip.

Mina, who last year did a backyard burger-themed party, has been participating in Vegas Uncork’d since what seems like the beginning, with new, fun events from him and his restaurants every year, which keeps the whole weekend exciting for him.

“It’s always been interesting to see what new ideas chefs are coming up with,” Mina says. “There are always refreshing twists and the organizers are awesome about coming up with creative concepts each year. It’s also nice to have a chance to get together with incredibly talented chefs in town and celebrate food and wine!”

Among the new events Mina is participating in this year is Chef’s Counter: All-Star Feast along with Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The highly acclaimed chefs take over the Buffet at Aria for an evening feast of celebrity chef cooking stations.

“It’s an exciting spin on something that Vegas has long been known for – the buffet,” Mina explains. “As a chef, I love to cook larger cuts of meat and whole fish but seldom do I have the opportunity to do that in my restaurants. This will be a fun way to do that and serve the guest in an approachable format. The Aria buffet will make a unique experience for Vegas Uncork’d guests, and I’m very excited to join other great chefs such as Jean-Georges for this opportunity.”

EXPERIENCE FOOD AND WINE: Food festivals around the world

There’s no lack of great chefs all over the city during these food-filled days. Mario Batali, who has restaurants at Venetian and Palazzo, will be a man about town, getting some golf in during the celebrity tournament and participating in his new event, Burgers, Beers Boozy Shakes with Mario Batali, as well as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Grill Challenge where he and chef Buddy Valastro of Buddy V’s mentor two Le Cordon Bleu culinary students to compete for $20,000 in scholarship funds during the Night Market at Palazzo.

Batali’s mentoring style is based on doing the opposite of how he was mentored by one legendarily manic chef. “Some of the best mentoring I got was from Marco Pierre White, who at the time was a terror. I learned not to be a terror. We are now great friends, but sometimes you learn what not to do.”

But ultimately, the advice he plans to offer to his student during the challenge is a reflection of his own take on food: “Keep it simple, thoughtful, tasty and spare.”

The weekend gives chefs like Batali, who may have restaurants here but don’t live here, a chance to really enjoy themselves in Las Vegas while all the other chefs are here as well. “I love hanging out in my restaurants in Las Vegas. It’s like visiting family, except this family is not annoying at any time during the day.”

If you’ve ever wanted to eat your way through the Las Vegas Strip and in the presence of some of our best chefs, Vegas Uncork’d is the weekend it all happens.

Tickets are available at

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Feb 27, 2014
Tina George

Wanted: Young people in Lincoln — Town manager’s plan aims to attract, retain …

LINCOLN, Maine — Kayla Lingley moved to Lincoln about a month and a half ago and the 20-year-old nanny says she plans on moving out again as soon as she can.

Her reason: For people her age, there’s nothing to do in Lincoln.

“I am moving away because of the lack of stuff here,” Lingley said Tuesday as she shopped at Marden’s on Main Street. “I moved here because their [the children she watches] family is from here. But there’s nothing really here. It’s just stores to shop in. There’s no movies or places to hang out at for people my age.”

Input like Lingley’s will be the centerpiece of a multipoint plan that town officials will begin implementing over the next several weeks, said Lincoln Town Manager William Lawrence.

Basing his initiative on news accounts that show northern Maine is losing its young people, Lawrence said he wants to refocus some town programs and create some new initiatives, including informally polling town teens and 20-somethings to see what the community lacks for younger residents.

And he wants to see if the town can gear more activities toward drawing and retaining those folks. Lawrence also wants students in the video production class at Northern Penobscot Tech to put together marketing videos on why young people such as themselves should come to or remain in Lincoln.

“With the situation with the mill, the time is right. Some of these things we have done anyway or already have going,” Lawrence said. “Along with those problems that we have been attacking, instead of sitting here wondering what is going to happen to us, we are asking, what else can we do? What other points can we address?”

Council members have approved Lawrence’s town government initiatives, he said. They include:

— Obtain feedback from youth organizations on what it would take to keep them home and encourage youth participation in local government such as Town Council meetings.

— Expand the use of social media and explore recruitment of residents and businesses beyond Maine.

— Promote a culture of opportunity by hosting “how to start a business” workshops through Penquis Cap and Northern Penobscot Tech-Region III of Lincoln and working with Region III on workforce development.

— Create a video series, “Why live, work and visit Lincoln” and post it on the town website, Facebook and YouTube.

— Expand the exercise trail systems to be built near Mattanawcook Academy, the town’s snowmobile and ATV trails, and the town’s art, music and food festivals to include job fairs, festivals, road races, tournaments and shows.

— Promote Lincoln as a government and public safety training destination and widening West Broadway to draw more business there.

According to the 2010 Census, Lincoln’s median age is 40.3 years, about three years younger than Maine’s median age, 43.5 years. The census shows that of Lincoln’s 5,085 residents, 3,911 were age 18 and older. The largest single segment, 1,092, was 50 to 64 years old. The number of people ages 20 to 34 was 770. There were 244 people between ages 20 to 24.

Lawrence’s list echoes Bangor City Council Chairman Ben Sprague’s 38-point population growth strategy list, which Sprague issued Feb. 1. That list also combined recreation, entertainment and economic development initiatives geared toward attracting and retaining young people.

Lincoln Town Councilor Curt Ring, a guidance counselor at the Lincoln-based Region III school who suggested the town use tech students to do the documentaries, likes Lawrence’s initiative but said it would likely be cut back somewhat by a lack of finances.

Since the Lincoln Paper and Tissue LLC paper mill laid off 200 workers in December, Lawrence and town department managers have been working to cut as much as $600,000 or 15 percent of the town government’s $4.3 million municipal services budget effective July 1.

“I think it is a wish list. If I had my way, this [list] is what I would do, too, but I think that we have to be careful. Anything we can do for nothing or very little money, I think we have to do it,” Ring said. “We can sit here and continue to pretend that the status quo is working for us or we can take action, instead of resting on successes of the past. Those days are over. We need to look to the future.”

The council might draw money from the economic development reserve funds culled from its Tax Increment Financing agreement with LPT, Ring said.

The council will meet at Northern Penobscot Tech on March 10 to review the student video production program, Ring said. Lawrence said he expects that town government will start implementing the steps of his proposal over the next several weeks.

Lawrence’s list drew favorable responses from Lincoln resident Dan Millett, a 29-year-old clerk at Marden’s, who called the list “awesome.”

He called Lawrence’s initiative “a wonderful idea to help stabilize the community.”

“This town has been my life so I will always stick with it, but it will be nice to see more people hanging around,” Millett said. He added that would love to see town officials complete the recreation center on Route 6, a fundraising effort which has foundered for several years.

Most of the students who will be making the video are from Lincoln’s surrounding towns, but they said they understand why young people want to leave.

“I could do video here, but there is not a lot of jobs around for video production. But I would like to stay in Maine, if I could,” 19-year-old Dylan LeClair of Howland said Tuesday. To LeClair, the No. 1 reason people his age and in their 20s leave Maine is “jobs and money.”

“They want to have a good career. They want more money” than Maine typically offers, LeClair said.

“There’s not a huge selection of jobs in Maine for people to get,” 17-year-old Bryce Martin of Howland agreed. Martin, who attends Penobscot Valley High School of Howland, said he believes that the town and students will benefit from the videos.

“As long as we all put our full effort into it, I think we can all actually make a fairly good video and portray what they want us to portray,” Martin said. “I say that because a lot of people don’t think that kids put a full effort into what they are doing and really if they do, they can do anything they wanted to, I believe.

“We could make professional-level videos if we put ourselves into it, and this is just the first steps of our careers,” Martin added.

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Feb 27, 2014
Tina George

Grand Central gets a taste of New York

A Long Island winery will operate the Taste NY store opening this summer in Grand Central Terminal featuring food, wine, spirits and beer made in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

One Woman Wines Vineyards of Southhold, N.Y., was selected by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to run the tiny store, which will move into the 460-square-foot space currently occupied by Papyrus stationary store on the west side of the terminal. The store is expected to open in August.

“As many as 750,000 people travel through Grand Central every day,” said the governor in a statement, adding that the store will help “boost business for our local producers and ultimately grow tourism and economic activity in communities throughout the state.”

The Grand Central store will sell a variety of local products, including those from Brooklyn Brewery, Hudson Bay Bourbon and Baldwin Hill Farms, which makes maple syrup in Southern Tier.

Taste NY is part of the governor’s $60 million tourism campaign launched last year, which is aimed primarily at promoting the state’s tourism attractions outside of the city in economically depressed areas like the Catskills and Adirondacks, as well as supporting New York’s agricultural businesses.

The Taste NY campaign has been featured at food festivals, the Super Bowl, golf tournaments and fairs across the state, but more recently it has been moving into retail spaces controlled by state agencies, including an outpost at La Guardia Airport, opened in December.

One Woman Wines Vineyards opened in 2004 and is owned by Claudia Purita, whose family has a farm in Calabria Italy. She could not be reached for comment, but according to the winery’s website its wines are offered by some well-known restaurants in the city, including DBGB Kitchen and Bar, ABC Kitchen and City Hall Restaurant Bar.

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