Feast your senses at the Ubud Food Festival this weekend

By HOLLY REID

As the sun rises over Campuhan ridge this Friday morning, the Festival Hub @ Taman Kuliner (Jalan Raya Sanggigan, Ubud) will lay in wait for the thousands of hungry foodies set to descend on the Ubud Food Festival as it returns to the island for its second year.

In a salute to the sun, early morning yoga-goers will sip hot coffee while listening to the snippets of conversation from the Joglo, as eager language students tuck into bowls of sweet bubur over Bahasa conversations. Over 50 stall vendors will be busy chopping, frying and preparing for a full day of serving, ready to serve audiences for the free Think, Talk, Taste sessions, taking place throughout each day of the Festival (27-29 May). With discussions ranging from food sustainability, the role of social enterprise in food security and the rapidly-modernising food scene in Bali, the forums are serious food for thought, the perfect place to pull up a chair in between taste-tasting.

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At Indus restaurant, just 200 metres from the Festival Hub @ Taman Kuliner, the Kitchen Stage at Indus restaurant will play host to 14 cooking demonstrations over the course of the Festival. Taking to the stage will be revered culinary icon Ibu Sisca Soewitomo, who will share the secrets to the perfect steamed sweet, the ‘sexy chef’ Farah Quinn, who will play judge to a fiery sambal cook-off between Ubud’s best chefs, and Balinese raw-food chef Arif Springs, who will teach eager audiences the secret to jamu, a sworn cure-all turmeric concoction. International chefs will also be feeling the heat, as Asia’s Best Female Chef (The World’s 50 Best Awards) Margarita Fores demonstrates Italian-Filipino fusion at its best, and world-class chefs Julien Royer of Singapore’s ODETTE and Nic Vanderbeeken of CasCade’s restaurant put on a Michelin-in-the-making display. With an open air venue with a view of Campuhan ridge, there’s little better a place than the Kitchen Stage to sit back and soak in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the Ubud Food Festival.

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Having been planning their menus for months in advance, Ubud restaurants will also be plating up their best for the Festival, with 28 special events taking place at revered establishments including Locavore, Mozaic, Room4Dessert, CasCades and Uma Cucina. The focus of the Festival this year being ‘Go Local’, chefs and restaurateurs have been challenged to stay true to their culinary roots, whether drawing on seasonal, locally-grown produce or creating a unique food fusion between local and international chefs. Highlights include a street-food turned-fine dining event with Indonesian food journalist and cook Petty Elliot at Alila, and a fish-focused collaboration between the much-loved Ambonese chef Bara Pattiradjawane and Dutch YouTube sensation and seafood sustainability champion Bart Van Olphen at Casa Luna. From the world’s first durian-cured cheese launch at the Elephant to a high tea at Warwick Ibah with a Balinese Royal Family, the program is rich in Indonesian culinary context. Booking in advanced is advised – many of the Festival’s events have already started selling out.

 

There’s also plenty on offer for budding masterchefs, with Saturday morning at the Festival Hub @ Taman Kuliner playing host to a Blue Ribbon Bali Babi (Bali pig) contest and a fruit carving competition between some of Bali’s young chefs-in-training. A hands-on bakery workshop led by Monsieur Spoon also provides the perfect opportunity to roam the Festival grounds in peace, or make it a family affair at Copper Kitchen’s Community Gardens Workshop, running each day of the Festival. For aspiring photographers, writers, blogger and ‘grammers, book a space at one of the Festival’s workshop series, designed to sharpen the culinary skills of those working in the industry. Will Write For Food will hone in on the fine art of food writing, and Sally May Mills will run a four-hour workshop on food photography. At night, the Festival Hub @ Taman Kuliner will come alive with food markets, film screenings and live music under the starry night sky. Sounds good enough to sink your teeth into, right? Bring your friends and family and feast your way across the 2016 Ubud Food Festival.