Notes from the Flavour Conference 2018

Ranveer Brar, Rushina Munshaw Ghildayal &
Nikhil Merchant kick of the Flavour Conference 2018.
They moderated simultaneous sessions through the day

From market researcher to food writer, The Travelling Belly story

I had a rather interesting experience yesterday and a very enriching one at that too that I want to tell you about. After conducting many focus groups and creativity workshops over my years as a market researcher, this time it was my time to be a participant in one as a food writer, and what a brilliant one it was at that.

The Flavour Conference 2018

I am talking of the Flavour Congress 2018, held in Mumbai yesterday. It was the first edition of an initiative championed by Ranveer Brar. The event was organised and run by Ranveer and Rushina M.Ghildiyal and her team at the APB Cook Studio. It was sponsored by Kellogs and was held at the Trident, Bandra Kurla, Mumbai.

It was a day long activity where participants included a cross-section of people from different age groups and who came from diverse backgrounds and the group included food historians, chefs, food journalists & bloggers, restaurateurs, folks who do food walks and trails and research for TV shows and even scientists and marketing folks.

The batch of the Flavour Congress 2018

There were panel discussions, breakaway focus groups, presentations and of course (!), concept presentations at the end AND lots and lots of good food as can be expected from Chefbhasin. The arrangements made by APB and Trident BKC were most thoughtful and I want to specially thank everyone who worked hard behind the scenes to make this happen.

With chef Bhasin

With Doc Kurush Dalal

Engrossing sessions
The discussions were electrifying, enriching and inspiring and our energy levels din't dip at all while Ranveer and Rushina conducted the session like seasoned workshop moderators and facilitators, even though this is fairly new to them. I am saying this most objectively from the point of view of one who has attended many such concept workshops  in India and globally too.

With Rushina after the session where we discussed social media & its role in
celebrating home food

With Ranveer after our street food chat. My team included Saee, Ruchi,
Anubhav Sapra, Rakesh, Dr Pushpesh Pant and and Dr Mohsina and it was
great spending the morning talking with them

Mulling over Indian Food

At a personal level, I came back with lots of learning and was fairly charged up at the end of the day. My favourite parts were the two focus groups which I was a part of. One conducted by Rushina on social media and its role in bringing traditional Indian food to the centerstage and the other by Ranveer on the exploring the narrative to celebrate India's street food and traditional eatery culture.

My two bits on this were that social media, starting with food bloggers, has played a major role in bringing home food and regional Indian food and street food into the limelight, and that we should continue to do so. As the Buddhist principle of oneness of self and environment goes, it’s really up to us to put out the sort of stories that we want to read.

Regarding the narrative of street food, we all agreed that the stories are what are most critical and that stories can be of two kinds...the urban legends and folklore story telling as well as a documentary like reporting which tells people what to expect so that they do not feel intimidated about trying street food.

Rushina's cracker of a panel with Dr Pushpesh Pant, Dr Kurush Dalal
and Dr Mohsina Mukadam

The panel discussion conducted by Rushina with Dr Pushpesh Pant, Dr Kurush Dalal and Dr Mohsina Mukadam was rather interesting too as they delved upon the difficulties in defining what is Indian food given the vast regional and socio-cultural distinctions, differences and complexities that exist. They also stressed about the need to recognise and acknowledge the evolving nature of Indian food and the need therefore to balance the quest for 'authenticity' in cuisine with the realities and aspirations of today.

The discussion touched upon a topic that I had written about most recently too and it was enlightening to hear what the panel thought on this issue.

This is my take on the challenges of defining Indian food. Do keep a lookout for Rushina's posts on learning from the Flavour Conference which will come out soon I am sure.

At the end of every workshop comes concept prevention time
and that's me with Mohit Balachandra of Soda Bottle Opener Wala
and  JoyMalya of Bohemina

At the end of a superfoods first edition of the Flavour Conference
Looking forward to the next

PS: On finding kindred souls for The Travelling Belly
Most tentatively gave a copy of my book, The Travelling Belly,
to Dr Pushpesh Pant. Love the way he ties in food, history and
socio-cultural narratives and is so warm and encouraging in person
Good morning message from the Doc the next day
Also gave a copy to Anubhav Sapra who does excellent work under Delhi Food Walks
Turned out that he had a copy. We are kindred souls after all