Over the past year, I’ve been based in Ubud working – amongst other things – as the publicist for the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, the Bali Emerging Voices Festival and the newly launched Ubud Food Festival. Last year I was proud to be part of the team who bought the inaugural UFF to life, attracting more than 6,500 foodies from across the globe to celebrate all things delicious and diverse in Indonesian cuisine.
This year, the UFF will be held from 27-29 October, three days of high energy cooking demonstrations, hands-on workshops and master-classes, special events across some of Ubud’s most celebrated culinary establishments, in-depth food forums and much, much more.
“If there was one lesson we learned from the 2015 Ubud Food Festival, it’s that the hunger is real,” said Founder & Director of the UFF, my lovely boss Janet DeNeefe. “The enthusiasm of the local and international culinary community was so overwhelming, there wasn’t really any question of whether we’d bring the Festival back for a second year.”
The full program and line-up is set to be released via the UFF website early April when tickets go on sale, but we’ve already got a few tasty treats for food enthusiasts to sink their teeth into.
“This year, this Festival program is centred on the concept of ‘go local’,” explains DeNeefe. “Whether that’s showcasing local producers who work together with some of Ubud’s best restaurants, or challenging our International chefs to get creative with tempe and turmeric, it’s all about working with what Indonesia has to offer.”
A window into Indonesian culture, the UFF will also dive into the rich tapestry of culinary tradition, from what a Balinese priest eats to a visit to the ‘Tofu Grannies’ who have been producing Ubud’s artisan tofu for generations.
The Festival will also continue on its mission to bringing together chefs from all across the archipelago, from new chefs making waves on the rapidly evolving local food scene to the ‘ibu-ibu’ (mothers) of Indonesian cuisine.
With last year’s high energy Rendang Cook-Off between Indonesia and Malaysia a huge hit, the Festival’s cooking demonstration series will challenge chefs to plate up their best dishes, from spicy sambal to bebek goreng, exploring regional influences and traditional culinary customs.
“Indonesian food is so incredibly diverse; even the most well-known dishes such as nasi goreng are unique to the areas in which they are made. We’re also now seeing the modernisation of Indonesian food, as it gains momentum outside of the country and takes on international variations,” said DeNeefe.
“The UFF is all about enriching our understanding of this journey, and exploring the social, cultural and historical context that surrounds it. How do we modernise and keep our traditional roots? That’s what this year’s Festival is all about.”