FoodTreX stands for Food, Travel and Experience. An event dedicated to promoting food and local culture as food travel. FoodTreX Kathmandu was a three day event that took place from 24th to 26th May 2019. The three days were divided into three sub-events – ‘Food Trail’, ‘Meet the Chefs’ and ‘Regional Summit’.
The three day event kick-started with a journey covering important food trails in various parts of Kathmandu valley. The trail started from Karma Coffee in Thamel, where we learned in detail how coffee is brewed in Nepal. From the streets of Thamel, we mingled with the crowds and made our way to the busiest and oldest part of Kathmandu – Ason, the old market of Nepali spices and authentic Nepali products. As we weaved our way through the hustle and bustle of Ason, we explored different Nepali spices and how they add flavor to Nepal’s diverse cuisine.
Our next destination was the hilltop Newar town known as Kirtipur, well outside the noisy city of Kathmandu. We stopped at Newa Lahana, one of the most popular Newari eateries in the valley. After stuffing ourselves with authentic Newari food and exploring the Newar culture, we decided to travel to the other side of Kathmandu, crossing the Bagmati River to enter the old city of Patan in Lalitpur. There hidden in one of the numerous alleys of Patan, lies Raithane, a restaurant that serves food from all over Nepal, bringing together the cuisine of numerous ethnic groups. With Raithane, we ended our day of exploration and prepared ourselves for another exciting day ahead.
The second day was called ‘Meet the Chefs’ and was organized at the Hub in Thamel. Meet the Chefs was all about bringing chefs from different restaurants to one place and have them showcase their diverse cuisines by preparing their special dishes in front of us, all the while explaining what goes in it. In the end we would get to taste their creations. Five different dishes were made back to back on this day. We started off with Bhakka from eastern Nepal made by chefs from the Hub – Sanjay and Pravin, followed by a traditional Newari Kachela made by Chef Suraj and Chef Kumar from Two Tables. We then got more variety as we were served the Sherpa dish called Rildhuk made by Prashant Khanal from Raithane and his team, soon followed by Pork in Fermented Bamboo served on a bed of Taichung rice made by Chef Sanam Chitrakar. And of course we ended the culinary journey with an amazing dessert of Chocolate momos made by the team of Social Tours.
The third and final day was the regional summit. After learning about and exploring the Nepali food culture for two days, this was a day of reflection, of analysis and of some reality checks. It was a gathering of everyone passionate about food, making a mark through local cuisine. Day 3 brought to the fore some keynote speakers, discussion panels and yes, there was more food. Eric Wolf, the Founder and Executive Director of World Food Travel Association, was one of the keynote speakers who talked on where Nepal fits in the World Food Tourism map. Having analyzed the food tourism status of the country, he made some valuable suggestions for improvement. He opined that Nepal is slowly getting on the precipice of the mountain of food travel, and it can go anywhere – wherever we take it; but action must be taken. Dr. Saurabh Raj Dixit talked about developing sustainable food tourism products and the guest speaker, NTB’s CEO, Deepak Raj Joshi, talked about the initiatives of the Nepal government to establish Nepal as a food tourism hub. Tourism pioneer Karna Shakya talked about promoting Nepal’s Heritage Food. Then there were two discussion panels focused on going global through food tourism and defining Nepal’s food stories and promoting Nepali food and drinks to the world.
Food connects the world, and food represents people’s diverse cultures; it is time to showcase our cuisine on a larger stage. The three-day summit basically emphasized the promotion of Nepali food and Nepali ingredients as a tourism product.