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Are you a food nerd? Then this new festival is for you

A two-day festival will bring together chefs, entrepreneurs and others from across the food ecosystem

Food lovers in conversation at the Food Nerd Party last year.
Food lovers in conversation at the Food Nerd Party last year. (Anisha Oommen)

There is one thing that brings the passionate people of Bengaluru together. No, it’s not a discussion about traffic, but food. Over the years, people from all across the country have made the city their home, and they have brought in their own influences and interests, resulting in a smorgasbord of food on offer. From donne biryani to khow suey, there are abundant cuisines to discover, which makes the city a perfect location for the first-ever Food Nerd festival, to be held later this month.

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The two-day food festival has been organised by media house Goya Journal and Edible Issues, a collective run by Anusha Murthy and Elizabeth Yorke to foster conversations around the future of food. The event, to be held between 24-25 November, will bring together chefs, restaurateurs, small business owners, food photographers, content creators and authors.

The festival is an extension of an invite-only Christmas party called the Food Nerd Party, which was held in Bengaluru in 2021 and 2022, to form connections over the love of food and drinks.

“More than a party, it was a space for ideas, collaboration, and exciting connections. And we wanted to scale that up,” says Anisha Oommen, co-founder of Goya Journal. “This year we are bringing a festival that nurtures the food and beverage (F&B) community.”

The organisers regularly work with small businesses, who often have a bunch of questions about how they can grow, reach a wider audience, and create a brand. This festival is a platform to get answers to those questions from the experts from the food ecosystem and beyond.

Chef Thomas Zacharias, founder of Locavore, pastry chef and founder of Le 15 Patisserie Pooja Dhingra, and illustrator Alicia Souza will talk about leveraging one’s personal brand to grow a business. Communications consultant Radhika Misra, and Diaspora Co’s Sana Javeri Kadri will share advice on how to build a people-centric enterprise. In another panel, Kainaz Messman, founder of Theobroma, Akhila Srinivasan from Bengaluru’s The Conservatory, and Rajeev Srivatsa, founder of Urban Ladder, will discuss the pros and cons of scaling a business.

People attending the panel will also receive aids and material containing insights of leading entrepreneurs such as Anand Virmani of Nao Spirits, Fiona Arakal of Ishka Farms, and Matt Chitharanjan, the co-founder of Blue Tokai, Anirudh and Anvesh, founders of Brik Oven.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Food Nerd Labs featuring four workshops themed ‘Salt’, ‘Fat’, ‘Acid’, ‘Heat’. These will be hands-on sessions in topics such as fermentation, curing of meats, cheese pairings, and spice appreciation. “This is open to anyone interested in learning these food techniques, not just business owners,” Oommen explains. These workshops will be led by the Cheese Collective’s Mansi Jasani, and Kadri of Diaspora Co.

The festival has also partnered with a range of brands to curate a selection of dishes for the Food Nerd Market. “In a first-time-ever collaboration, Chennai’s Kase Cheese and Bengaluru’s Loafer & Co will be presenting delectable sandwiches. It’s Bengaluru, so there will be hot dosas from Malgudi Mylari Mane. For kombucha lovers, there’s Umami Brew and for noodle bowl enthusiasts, there’s Burma Burma,” says Oommen.

The Food Nerd comes at the right moment, with the food and beverage industry being “on the cusp of a very exciting time”. From innovation to market demands, today there is always something to look forward to. However, not everyone has access to knowledge about how to build and grow businesses and there is no platform for sharing this knowledge. “My favourite quote is all boats rise with the tide. So, if one of us does well then all of us do well. That’s the intention of the festival, to be a space where we contribute to each other’s growth,” says Oommen.

The festival ends with an afterparty, where people can network and hang out with fellow food-lovers. The Food Nerds After Hours will be headlined by a collaboration between Dhingra of Le 15 and Vinesh Johny of Lavonne.

The Food Nerd festival will be held on 24-25 November at Courtyard & Conservatory, Shanthinagar, Bengaluru.

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