In an age of fleeting moments, it is rare to find culinary events that have lasted as long. Palate Fest, established in 2014, returned to Delhi for its latest edition on 18th and 19th November, 2023 at central Delhi – Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.
In an interview with Suman Tarafdar, ahead of the Fest, the founders Aditi Kapoor and Ruchi Sibal spoke about their journey, the highlights of their journey, what makes the Palate Fest stand out in an increasingly crowded space and what could be in the works. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
How has the journey been? What have been the highlights?
Aditi Kapoor: The journey of creating and founding Palate Fest has been a truly fulfilling experience. It all began with a vision to celebrate the rich world of food, culture, and culinary diversity. From the initial inspiration to the challenges faced, the building of partnerships, and the impact on the community, this journey has been marked by dedication, innovation, and a deep love for culinary arts.
Ruchi Sibal: The highlights of creating and founding Palate Fest have included showcasing culinary excellence, offering diverse food experiences, celebrating cultural integration, fostering community engagement, introducing innovative elements, making a positive impact on the local food scene, expanding to new regions, continuously improving based on feedback, and gaining recognition on a national and international scale.
What are the highlights of this year’s edition?
AK: What’s remarkable is that it’s designed to be a truly inclusive experience with something for all ages – from a dedicated Kids Zone to an Ice-Skating rink and even a Gaming Truck. This year’s edition is poised to redefine the culinary landscape, spotlighting the vibrant tapestry of India’s gastronomic culture. It’s all about musical performances, masterclasses by renowned chefs, diverse cuisines, and an immersive culinary experience. In a nutshell, this Palate Fest is set to be an unforgettable culinary extravaganza!
What makes this edition even more special is the support it’s receiving from esteemed partners like the Ministry of Tourism G20, Incredible India, and Delhi Tourism. Their involvement elevates the event to a grand celebration of India’s rich culinary heritage and cultural diversity. This year we have representation of some of the G2 countries with their food and food products. Alongside this there will a representation of Dekho Apna Desh with some of the states of India showcasing their cuisines.
RS: Well, I’m excited to share that this year’s Palate Fest is gearing up to be an extraordinary culinary celebration. First off, it’s a highly anticipated return to New Delhi after more than four years, taking place right at the heart of the city in the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium. This venue choice not only brings convenience but also adds an extra layer of excitement for all the food enthusiasts and culture aficionados. Visitors can expect a vast selection of food and beverage stalls, featuring both well-known favourites and exciting newcomers.
What are the USPs of the Palate Fest as compared to other such events?
AK: The Palate Fest stands out among similar events for a variety of compelling reasons. First and foremost, it prides itself on being a unique amalgamation of culinary excellence, cultural diversity, and a vibrant atmosphere. Unlike many other food festivals, the Palate Fest goes beyond merely offering an array of delectable dishes; it provides a platform for both established and emerging chefs to showcase their culinary prowess, fostering innovation and creativity in the culinary world. Its also a truly family day out.
RS: Palate Fest curates a diverse range of international and regional cuisines, ensuring that visitors can savour flavours from around the world while celebrating the rich tapestry of India’s culinary heritage. Furthermore, the festival goes the extra mile by integrating live music, art exhibitions, and engaging panel discussions, creating a holistic sensory experience. Lastly, the Palate Fest’s commitment to creating a family-friendly and inclusive environment makes it a standout event, catering to people of all ages and backgrounds, promoting a sense of community and togetherness through the universal language of food. In essence, the Palate Fest’s ability to blend gourmet experiences with cultural enrichment and a commitment to sustainability makes it a truly exceptional event in the realm of food festivals.
How many participants are there this time? Which category of outlets – standalone cafes, hotel outlets etc are participating the most?
AK: We have over 60 participants ranging across all cuisines and all categories
How many people have been attending the event?
RS: We expect a footfall of over 30,000.
How much of a difference did the Covid led disruption cause – if any?
AK: The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a significant blow to food festivals like Palate Fest, leading to the cancellation or postponement of events and creating financial challenges for organizers, vendors, and sponsors. In response, many festivals shifted to virtual formats, adopted new health and safety measures, and incorporated hybrid models to cater to a wider audience.
RS: However, one of the most notable developments has been the resurgence of dining out en masse as pandemic restrictions eased. As conditions improved and people gained confidence in attending events, food festivals made a strong comeback. Attendees were eager to reconnect with the culinary and cultural experiences they had missed during the pandemic, and this pent-up demand led to a renewed enthusiasm for dining out and attending such events.
What are the future plans of the festival?
AK: We are already pan India and we have held Fest in Chandigarh, Mumbai and Goa
RS: We may look at going international but we will always have a special place for Delhi where our journey started.
Any other aspect that is of note about the fest?
AK: The Palate Fest is a culinary extravaganza that offers much more than just delectable food. The event brings together food enthusiasts, chefs, and vendors from various culinary backgrounds, creating a lively and communal space where people can not only savour an array of delectable dishes but also engage in meaningful conversations about food, culture, and culinary trends.
RS: The fest often hosts cooking demonstrations, workshops, and food-related discussions, allowing attendees to gain insights into the culinary world. Additionally, the festival often features live music, entertainment, and an overall enjoyable ambiance, making it a perfect destination for a day out with family and friends. The Palate Fest is not just about eating; it’s a holistic celebration of food, culture, and the shared joy of dining. A true family experience.