En­rich­ing Bhutanese foods to in­ter­na­tional taste

Bhutan Times - - Home - Staff Re­porter/ Thim­phu

Bhutanese foods have of­ten re­ceived cur­sory re­marks - as ei­ther be­ing too spicy or un­palat­able to in­ter­na­tional taste. This may os­ten­si­bly change with the Bhutan In­ter­na­tional Food Fes­ti­val (BIFF), sched­uled to take place at the Clock Tower Square in Thim­phu from Fe­bru­ary 19-22 this year.

The food fes­ti­val, an event run­ning as part of the first an­nual Bhutan In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val (BhIF) and or­ga­nized by Ho­tel and Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion of Bhutan (HRAB), will see a gamut of in­ter­est­ing lo­cal dishes for Bhutanese crowds as well as new fu­sion dishes cre­ated by renowned in­ter­na­tional chefs by fus­ing or com­bin­ing Bhutanese cui­sine with el­e­ments of other dif­fer­ent culi­nary tra­di­tions.

The chair­man of HRAB said the food fes­ti­val has been pack­aged so that it ren­ders a plat­form for Bhutanese cui­sine to be high­lighted, show­cased and de­vel­oped into an in­ter­na­tional cui­sine or into some­thing at par with other in­ter­na­tional cuisines. “That’s the ob­jec­tive of HRAB,” he added.

Around 20 par­tic­i­pants, com­pris­ing the high-class and pres­ti­gious ho­tels like Tashi-Taj and Le Meri­dien Thim­phu to small ho­tels and restau­rants mostly based in Thim­phu and in­ter­na­tional chefs, will have food stalls at the Clock Tower Square dur­ing the four-day food fes­ti­val. Tents would also be pitched with pro­vi­sion for ta­bles and chairs, where peo­ple vis­it­ing the fes­ti­val could sit and taste the del­i­ca­cies that would be on the of­fer.

“We hope that the restau­rants and ho­tels would make foods that are in­ter­est­ing for Bhutanese crowds and at the same time show­case Bhutanese fu­sion foods,” the HRAB’s chair­man said.

“While this is an ini­tial step, we are hop­ing to make this a long-term process to evolve and de­velop Bhutanese cui­sine. The hope is, in due time, Bhutanese cui­sine is pre­sented like other cuisines with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards,” he added.

The food fes­ti­val, mean­while, will also be graced by the ar­rival of star chef team Daniel Mat­tern and Rox­ana Jul­la­pat of Cooks County, the fa­mous restau­rant among the high-class and elites in Los An­ge­les. The cou­ple is renowned and fre­quently fea­tured for their works in food mag­a­zines and blogs glob­ally.

The chef cou­ple will do some back­ground re­search on Bhutanese foods and present their in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what Bhutanese foods could look like dur­ing the food fes­ti­val. They will also con­duct mas­ter class work­shops for in­ter­ested lo­cal chefs and cooks in Thim­phu.

“They (the chef cou­ple) will mostly deal with the fu­sion as­pects of Bhutanese foods. Cooking classes with tech­niques and dishes from Bhutan and other neigh­bor­ing coun­tries would be ex­plored to come up with wild new recipes. Bhutanese fu­sion foods will com­bine Bhutanese cui­sine with var­i­ous cuisines of other coun­tries,” said an or­ga­nizer of the food fes­ti­val.

“HRAB is happy that Daniel and Rox­ana are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the food fes­ti­val and we are thank­ful their ex­penses are be­ing spon­sored by Le Meri­dien Thim­phu,” the HRAB’s chair­man said. “Food is just not about cooking and serv­ing. Cooking is an art. It’s also about pre­sen­ta­tion. It is how we bring our dif­fer­ent cul­tures to­gether.”

The food fes­ti­val, ac­cord­ing to HRAB, is a part of HRAB’s un­der­tak­ing to cel­e­brate the 60th Birth An­niver­sary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and 35th Birth An­niver­sary of His Majesty the King Jigme Kh­e­sar Nam­gyel Wangchuck on Fe­bru­ary 21 this year.

HRAB is a fed­er­a­tion of ho­tels and restau­rants from all over Bhutan. Mem­bers range from restau­rants to small fam­i­ly­owned prop­er­ties to ma­jor con­ven­tion ho­tels. It is a non-profit, apo­lit­i­cal, mu­tual ben­e­fit or­ga­ni­za­tion formed in Septem­ber 2007 by a group of en­thu­si­as­tic hote­liers.

BhIF, mean­while, is a brand new col­lab­o­ra­tive arts fes­ti­val in Bhutan. It’s a non-profit an­nual event – work­ing to build a new ve­hi­cle for the on­go­ing fund­ing of cre­ative arts in Bhutan.

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