BIS #7043 Wild Food Festival at DB Kurla

By Fr Charles Anthony for BISMumbai

In a vibrant celebration of nature's bounty and cultural diversity, the Wild Food Festival 2023 was held at Don Bosco College , Kurla, on 27 August 2023. This unique event, organised by OOO Farms in collaboration with The Locavore and Don Bosco College - Hospitality Studies, showcased the indigenous wild foods found in Maharashtra's forests, shedding light on the state's rich biodiversity and culinary heritage.

The event kicked off with an enticing line-up of activities, offering an experience that combined education, culture, and culinary delights. Attendees were treated to an array of indigenous vegetables, tubers, and roots in the ‘Display of Wild Vegetables and Seed Bank’. Domain experts and speakers Dr Dapal Dey and Dr Kurush Dalal took the stage in the evening, engaging the audience with discussions on wild foods, food security, and the current state of farming and farmers. The festival aimed to inspire a conversation about the importance of maintaining our culinary traditions and embracing locally grown foods.

The interactive session that followed allowed the attendees to engage with experts and address their queries. The evening concluded with a sumptuous dinner that featured ‘Mountain Cuisines’, showcasing dishes prepared by tribal farmers from Maharashtra, offering attendees a genuine taste of the forest on their plates.

The event wasn't just about savouring unique flavours; it also aimed to educate participants about the plethora of wild edibles available in the region. The event unveiled more than 200 varieties of vegetables, tubers, and roots that thrive within 100 kilometres of Mumbai. The festival questioned the growing influence of commercialised food products and emphasised the value of locally sourced and foraged foods.

OOO Farms led by Mr Shailesh Awate, deeply rooted in sustainable and chemical-free farming, played a significant role in organising the festival. With ties to over 2200 tribal farmers across various regions, OOO Farms actively promotes the conservation of forests, their foods, and the communities connected to them.

The magic of the Wild Food Festival 2023 at Don Bosco College was not just in the flavours but in the collaborative spirit that brought it to the event. For over a month, students from the Hospitality Studies programme at Don Bosco College had the privilege of working alongside renowned Chef Thomas Zacharias. This unique opportunity provided them with periodic guidance and hands-on experience with the intricate flavour profiles of wild foods.

Moreover, the students joined forces with tribal community members to prepare the delectable offerings for both the tasting session and the grand finale dinner. This collaborative effort bridged the gap between urban learners and their tribal counterparts, creating a truly enriching experience for all involved. It was a harmonious blend of traditional wisdom and contemporary culinary innovation.