The OG of food fests is here

Updated: Dec 01, 2019, 09:58 IST | Anju Maskeri | Mumbai

The granddaddy of culinary shows, The UpperCrust Food and Wine Show enters its 17th year with a focus on innovative chefs

Masli ambat (fish curry)
Masli ambat (fish curry)

Long before gastronomic fairs became a thing, Farzana Contractor's food expo, The UpperCrust Food and Wine Show was a lone player. The culinary event was launched in 2003 to feature some of the finest food and beverage products and services. Seventeen years since, the festival is only bigger and better. "To be honest, nothing much has changed, and in a way, that has worked for us," says Contractor. "It's the comfort factor for the visitors coming in year after year. They love it as it is.

What's new, though, is the exciting line-up of chefs. The festival, presented in collaboration with media partner Sunday mid-day, offers a platform to 150 exhibitors, food enterprises, and innovative entrepreneurs. "Over three days, we will hold a series of specially curated demos. Broadly, we have ensured a good mix of 5-star chefs, home chefs and well-known stand-alone restaurants, who will cover a cross-range of cuisines," she explains.

Smita Deo
Smita Deo

The stellar line-up is led by chef Noorur, proprietor of Bangkok's famous Blue Elephant restaurant, who will hold a masterclass on Thai cuisine. Chef and restaurateur Rachel Goenka of Sassy Spoon, Italian chef Alessandro Persico of Grant Hyatt Mumbai, home chef Smita Deo, chef Saransh Goila of Goila Butter Chicken and chef Saurav Banerjee from Trident, Nariman Point, join the line-up. "These are well travelled people who are eager to share their passion for cooking," says Contractor.

Deo's 45-minute session is titled Karwar to Kolhapur in Mumbai. To keep it simple, she has picked a sumptuous prawn curry and crunchy phodi (shallow-fried veggies) from Karnataka. The usual suspects from Kolhapuri cuisine—pandhra and tamda rassa—have been ditched in favour of the kansa cha rassa (corn curry). "I chose the corn curry because it's an unusual dish from the region. It's a wonderful amalgam of flavours; a spicy, tangy gravy complemented by the sweet crunch of corn," she says.

Chef Noorur, proprietor of Bangkok's Blue Elephant restaurant, will hold a masterclass on Thai cuisine
Chef Noorur, proprietor of Bangkok's Blue Elephant restaurant, will hold a masterclass on Thai cuisine

In cocktails, chef Rahul Kulkarni, head chef of Worli restobar, Baraana, will showcase culinary mixology using kitchen ingredients and Ayurvedic herbs. "I've chosen ingredients that are easy to find and also impart health benefits. For instance, oats are healthy but rarely used in cocktails," he says. The menu includes fermented homemade oat milk with cinnamon bitter with coconut white rum and dragon fruit, and beetroot fruitini infused with Ayurveda herb bitter.

Since eating and shopping go hand-in-hand, there are plenty of buys on offer. If you enjoy cooking in natural iron, visit the kiosk of Kitch.in, a Bengaluru-based brand. They work with craftswomen and men from across the country to manufacture cast iron utensils. Premium flavoured teas and coffees from Granules and Beans, Sleepy Owl, Society and The Good Life Co will also be on offer.

The festival will offer a platform to 150 exhibitors and food enterprises
The festival will offer a platform to 150 exhibitors and food enterprises

Wine lovers can enjoy wines by Sula, Grover Zampa, Casablanca and flavourful fruit wines by Rhythm Winery, Fruzzante and Come On Charlie. "I personally shop a lot at my own show," says Contractor. "I have shopped online but nothing compares with checking the finish of the product first-hand before buying." Look out for the Sunday mid-day stall where booking an annual subscription of the weekend newspaper can earn you an interesting gift.

Farzana Contractor
Farzana Contractor

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Dec 6, 1 pm: Saransh Goila's session on cooking with US cranberries
Dec 7, 4 pm: Chef Yuanzhong Jia of ITC Grand Central on Chinese cooking
Dec 8, 4 pm: Chef Noroor of Bangkok's Blue Elephant on Thai cooking

On: December 6 to 9, 10 am to 8 pm
At: World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade
Free

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