It could have been just another newsy listing about a Mumbai restaurant that landed in our inbox. Until the subject line (always works) caught our attention. The news was an announcement about a Mumbai chef-restaurateur who was invited to be a part of a gourmet festival in Singapore. And this wasn’t going to be just another high-end frou-frou celebration of uber-luxe food and dining for the rich and famous. It was a dedicated platform to showcase, discuss and share Indian culinary advances in the island country.
While on the one hand, we smiled that a Mumbai name would be on that plane to Singapore to ideate and gauge the impact of Indian food on the world gourmet stage, we couldn’t help but wonder why such events are not a part of the city’s F&B itinerary. A few weeks back, mid-day’s week-long bumper editions for its 36th anniversary had outlined this concern in one of the specials; here, solutions were spelt out on how to elevate Mumbai into a world-class food and dining destination.
The city is in dire need of seminars, gatherings and elaborate festivals that look into every aspect of culinary trends and technologies – for regional and international cuisines. All we seem to have are festivals that pair wine and cheese, beer and burgers, Pans Asian experimentations, or the odd Koli food festival for local cheer. But anybody who’s been following the dynamic food-scape in the city would agree that we need more. For example, why isn’t there a mega gathering of the industry's best to highlight and display Mumbai’s seafood fare as an annual tourist attraction? Why can’t our biggies in the F&B industry sit at the same table along with policy makers, to thrash out feasible plans where overseas players can interact with India’s best on the same platform? Sure, five-star hotels and standalone restaurants do this from time to time. But this isn’t enough.
Agreed, bureaucracy and red-tapism are two words that many of Mumbai’s chefs and restaurateurs will cite as reasons for having been stonewalled in the past, but why not put up a joint, united front and give it a shot? In fact, we were amazed with the practicality of all the ideas that our expert columnists presented in the same edition mentioned above in this column. It was reassuring, and inspiring. Imagine walking down the stunning Apollo Bunder promenade, lined with stalls, information kiosks, live cooking demos and sessions on world culinary technologies, and AVs of food trails in Southern France or downtown Buenos Aires?
The city is bursting with flavours. With the right mix of talent, initiative and innovation, not forgetting, diverse culinary traditions that can easily overshadow all of Europe, it’s high time we present our culinary pride to a larger, global audience.
The writer is Features Editor of mid-day