Does the mere thought of street food set your stomach to rumbling? If so, you’ll want to get yourself to Singapore– the world’s unofficial street food (or, technically, hawker centre)– capital. The city is hosting the World Streetfood Congress May 31-June 9. Don’t let the stern-sounding name fool you: this 10-day event is all about hedonism, snackie-style.
In addition to a World Streetfood Jamboree featuring the “best street food masters” from all over the world, there are also demos, a first-of-its-kind awards ceremony, discussions on “street food opportunities,” live music, and more.
For those in the F & B industry, a two-day conference, The World Street Food Dialogues, will be held June 3-4. It will feature noted speakers/street food experts such as Anthony Bourdain, Saveur magazine editor-in-chief James Oseland, Brett Burmeister, managing editor and co-owner of Food Carts Portland, and Singapore’s beloved KF Seetoh, chef, food writer, and founder of the Makansutra food centre and “foodbooks.” Makansutra is also the organizer of the World Streetfood Congress.
For details and tickets, click here. Your path to enlightenment via assam laksa, kue pankong, nasi kapau, mee siam, fish tacos, and chuoi nuong awaits.
Melbourne-based Intrepid Travel – known for its cultural and food-focused trips to remote corners of the planet – is now offering 20 percent off over 350 of their trips, including the newly-launched Food Adventures. The discount is good for all trips departing before August 31, 2013.
Last fall, Intrepid partnered up with The Perennial Plate, which documents these culinary adventures in bi-weekly video clips. If that’s not inspiration enough, check out these “Summer of Adventure” trips on offer: Northern Spain (Barcelona to San Sebastian), India (Delhi to Goa), and Vietnam (Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City).
The trips run from four to 14 days, and have been designed in collaboration with renowned chefs, cookbook authors and other food experts, including Susan Feniger and Tracey Lister. Trip prices include accommodation, ground transportation, a local guide, activities listed on the itinerary and, in many cases, cooking classes, meals with locals and trips to local markets.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the reign of the “Two Hot Tamales,” Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken were the badass female chefs/restaurateurs of the ’80s and ’90s, and the darlings of the Food Network in its infancy (read: when it was good). They helped to put world and regional Mexican cuisine on the radar in the United States with their L.A. restaurants CITY, City Cafe, and the Border Grill, and subsequent TV shows and cookbooks.
In June, I caught Feniger doing a pre-release-inspired cooking demo, “Irresistible Street Food,” at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. I’ve attended a lot of cooking demos in my day, and she’s without doubt one of the most engaging, down-to-earth chefs I’ve ever seen, and not just because I’m piggishly besotted with street food.
Caught up in sharing the travel stories behind the recipes she was preparing (the book is packed with anecdotes from her trips to places like India, Turkey, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Singapore), Feniger was reminiscent of a modern-day Julia Child. “Oh! Salt. Forgot the salt. Oh well, let’s add some more gin!” she said of her Honeydew Cucumber Cooler. In her defense, I, along with the rest of the audience, was suffering a classic Food & Wine Classic hangover right along with her. The weekend’s motto should be, “You play, you pay.”
Feniger also prepared Indian Puffed Rice Salad, and Egyptian Bus Stop Kushary (a lentil dish), in between anecdotes. Whether you’re an armchair traveler or a street food-obsessed adventurer, her book will leave you inspired, intrigued, and hungry for a taste of what the world’s back alleys have to offer.
If you’re in the Bay Area, catch Feniger at a “Cooks with Books” event sponsored by Book Passage, featuring a meal made from the book’s recipes. She’ll also be doing a signing at Omnivore Books in San Francisco on September 21, and at the Book Passage in the San Francisco Ferry Building on September 22.
Most children don’t dream of selling cheese or hacking apart animal carcasses when they grow up, but it’s a popular fantasy for many adults. Like most romantic-sounding culinary vocations, making craft foods and beverages can be hard work, and a risky business enterprise. “No matter how passionate someone is about their product,” says Heidi Yorkshire, founder of Portland, Oregon’s Food by Hand Seminars, “without business skills, they’ll never survive.”
Yorkshire, a small business consultant and former food and wine writer, was inspired to launch Food by Hand in 2009 because she saw a niche. “Our courses are mini-apprenticeships in running a sustainable business.” Past curricula have included butchery and craft distilling.
Food by Hand offers two-to-three-day intensives that teach the “craft and business of artisan food.” While the courses are designed for prospective business owners, they’re open to anyone wanting to know more about handcrafted foods.
[Photo credit: Flickr user mystuart]Food by Hand has an artisan cheese program that teaches everything from tasting, buying, storage and shop design to creating a business plan. The course is led by esteemed Portland cheesemonger Steve Jones, the son of a Maytag Dairy herdsman. Additional instructors include an expert on business planning and a tax specialist.
Jones has been in the business for over 17 years and is now on his second retail cheese venture, Portland’s Cheese Bar. He’s an industry badass and the winner of the 2011 Cheesemonger Invitational (yes, it really does exist and let me tell you, as a cheesemonger, it’s a pretty intense occupation and competition).
Food by Hand’s fourth annual seminar on The Craft and Business of Retailing Artisan Cheese will be held in Portland from May 30-June 2, 2012, and costs $1,795 per person; a $1,595 early enrollment tuition fee is available if paid in full by April 1. Click here for details on how to register.
In Spokane, Washington, Dry Fly Distilling’s aptly named Distilling School teaches their “farm to bottle” ethos (they use only locally, sustainably-grown raw ingredients in their vodka, gin, bourbon and whiskey) in two-day and one-week courses designed to “provide a variety of hands-on training opportunities to aspiring distillers.”
Opening in Oakland’s Jack London Square in April is the Food Craft Institute. Supported by sponsors and partnerships with some of the Bay Area’s most renowned artisan food organizations, farmers and food artisans (some of whom are also the instructors) the new school aims to “reinvigorate the creation and success of artisan food craft business in the U.S. through a combination of…training courses steeped in technical techniques along with a rigorous entrepreneurship program.”
It’s easy to poke fun at the overuse of words like “artisan” and “handcrafted,” and even I cringe when I hear naifs dreamily speak of quitting their six-figure tech jobs and buying a goat dairy. The reality is that unless you put in the hard time doing internships and learning the business end of things — and that’s assuming you have real, honest-to-god talent and passion — you’re not going to succeed at any food business. Having seed money or disposable income doesn’t equal good product.
On the positive side, my former employer, a Seattle cheesemonger, did her homework and spent two years interning, developing a business plan and taking Jones’ workshop as well as making him her mentor. Her business has been a success from day one. If you’re serious about getting (food) crafty, you can run a viable business. Just don’t think it’s going to be easy.
Kickstarter and incubator kitchens such as San Francisco’s La Cocina have helped many craft food businesses get off the ground. If you’re considering a career in this industry, I highly recommend these and similar programs as resources. And don’t forget: craft foods make excellent travel souvenirs.
[Photo credit: lamb, Laurel Miller; cheese, Flicker user Mitchmaitree]
Why start a craft food business? Because you “can pickle that.”
Last night in Istanbul, a side street in the Galata neighborhood on the European side of town was packed with people eating Turkish street food such as çiğ köfte, salted cucumbers, and börek pastries, and drinking cold Efes beers and Turkish wines. The occasion was the publication of the book Istanbul Eats: Exploring the Culinary Backstreets,
a compilation of food and restaurant recommendations from the blog of the same name. So full of local foodies and fans of the blog that the event was broken up early by the Turkish police unaccustomed to boisterous Tuesday block parties.
Started by American expats Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer last spring, Istanbul Eats is billed as “a serious eater’s guide to the city.” You won’t find any five-star restaurants, international chains, or tourist traps on Istanbul Eats; the blog focuses on small, traditional eateries; street carts; and mom-and-pop shops. Many of the establishments are only open for lunch, serve no alcohol, and take no credit cards. What you will find is authentic, often surprising, and always satisfying food. The pocket-sized book combines reviews with mouth-watering photography and visitor-friendly maps and info.
For now, the book is only available for sale online and in shops in Turkey, but is a must-read for anyone visiting Istanbul and looking to take home a taste of Turkey. If you want to read up on the culinary scene before your trip, the blog has a full archive of restaurant reviews, round-ups, and features on local favorite dishes. Afiyet Olsun!