An island feast of food and drink to satiate the appetites of Nanaimo culinary connoisseurs is on the menu this fall.
“Nanaimo is overdue for a celebration of local culinary culture,” said Kim Smythe, CEO of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber is lauding the savoury delights of the region during the first annual Feastival Saturday (Sept. 26) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
Feastival is all about showcasing growers, producers, processors, distributors, restaurants and more.
“All of those things need to be celebrated and brought to our attention,” Smythe said. “It’s about the whole sustainability of local foods.”
It also brings awareness to the possibilities of culinary tourism in Nanaimo and what is happening on the local food scene, he said. One such tourism initiative already underway in the region is the Nanaimo Bar Trail.
During the event people can sample dishes or try alcoholic beverages at the sips and samples area, which includes creations from Island wineries, brewers and distillers. Attendees can also browse the trade booths for the latest kitchen gadgets or appliances.
Hilary Malone, co-owner of Sea Salt Food Co., will be speaking at Feastival at 10:30 a.m. and demonstrating how to cook a dish using only regional ingredients. She said the creation of Feastival is an indication of growing public interest in local food.
“There is more to food than just function – it’s cultural, political and economic,” Malone said. “Food goes beyond base nourishment there is a lot we can do. We can make it simple or a gastronomic art.”
The event is about promoting healthy food and Malone says it’s not about low calorie cooking but using regional ingredients without the processed preservatives found in many pre-packaged foods. Feastival is also an opportunity to cultivate the understanding and the love of growing food in Nanaimo among children and instilling these values at an early age, Malone added.
Cory Parsons, a quadriplegic chef and author, will also be speaking during the event and will demonstrate chicken seville a recipe from his book Cooking with Cory.
“I’m representing the possibility disabled people can have, breaking down the stigma of what disabled means and I really love pushing that boundary,” said Parsons.
Parsons says Feastival will help introduce people to regional growers and the process of how food goes from field to table.
“It is such a beautiful concept to know where food has come from,” he said.
Parsons says a new generation of kids are growing up watching celebrity cooking shows and this glamorizes the art form and encourages them to learn about it.
Other guest speakers include Don Genova, a B.C. Award winning food journalist and author and Daksha Narsing, owner of Daksha Gourmet Spices. The chefs will share recipes and demonstrate cooking the dish.
The event includes up to 75 trade show booths, cooking classes, food trucks and an outside farmers market and the second annual seafood competition. The Bold Knight returns this year to defend its 2014 seafood competition win. A panel of celebrity judges will choose this year’s chowder winner and attendees can choose their favourite with the people’s choice vote.
Food tickets are also available to purchase to taste the savoury culinary creations.
Admission is $5, $15 for a family of up to five, children under 12 are $3. People can also book their cooking workshop spots for kids (ages eight and up), teens and seniors for $6. Tasting tickets are 10 for $20. Tickets are available at the door or www.feastival.ca. A schedule of events and speaker times is online.