A festival of international tastes
Those who attended last Friday’s International Food Festival hosted by the Honorary Consuls of the Consular Corps of Trinidad and Tobago had a delectable cornucopia of food to choose from. Many are probably still craving the unique flavours of the cuisines of 37 countries from around world. Held at the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre, the call of duty for Hilton’s executive Chef Umesh Meena was a lavish one, but with assistance from a team of 20 other chefs, the well organised and gala celebration of food came off without a hitch. The chef’s aim was to look at the signature or most popular dishes from each country and authentically produce them.
What goes into such preparation, according to Chef Meena it all comes down to careful planning. “The Chef designed a function planner which he utilises to divide the tasks and then assigns to his team. This helps him control and organise all the preparation, tasks and timing for large events such as the International Food Festival,” Meena said. Once the Consular Corps let us know the countries he would like represented at the festival, we looked to see if we could reproduce them authentically, and ensure the dishes were suitable for the event,” Meena said.
There were dishes from countries including Austria, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Czech Republic, Chile, Sri Lanka, Chile, Denmark, Indonesia, Latvia, Lebanon, Norway, Uruguay, Pakistan, Russia, Italy, Peru, Philippines, Czech Republic, Thailand, Turkey, Denmark, Finland, Grenada, Guyana, Indonesia, Ireland, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritus, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Suriname, Switzerland and Syrian Arabic Republic. There seemed to be no end to the food, drinks and desserts available for the 300 plus patrons who ventured to try what these countries offered. One had to admire Chef Sombat Mekkhawong’s handling of the Thai suckling pig which he sliced to perfection. The whole roasted pig was a sight to see especially for pork lovers who couldn’t get enough of the cooked-to-perfection roast.
There were Guyana’s famous pepper pot; crab ‘n’ rice from The Bahamas; Chile’s Pastel De Choclo (beef & corn) was a delicious casserole dish; Ireland’s stake and guinness pie was hearty and flavourful; then there was Sri Lanka’s dhal curry; Uganda’s amandazi (deep fried fritters); ceviche de Pescado from Peru, Lebanon’s babaganoush; risengryn grod a Norwegian rice pudding; gateaux piments, Chilli cakes from Mauritius; a Trini souse, and many other dishes.
One hundred per cent of proceeds from the event go towards charities throughout the country. This year, the Consular Corps will support Persons Associated with Visual Impairment (PAVI), The Children’s Life Fund, Helping Hands, T&T Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA), Community Chest and the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities with donations from proceeds.
The Festival also featured cultural presentations from Bishop Anstey Junior Choir, the Midnight Robber, Shiv Shakti Dancers, a Dramatic presentation by actress/ vocalist Tishanna WIlliams, vocalist Kalifa and reggae fusion band Uku.