Authentic Indonesian takes a contemporary twist at this year’s Ubud Food Festival

The Festival Hub @ Taman Kuliner starts stirring early; coffee carts warming up their machines to catch yoga-goers drifting past from an early morning ‘om’ overlooking Ubud’s Campuhan Ridge. In the Joglo, eager language students roll their r’s over sweet and steamy bowls of bubur (rice porridge) in Bahasa Indonesia, as stall vendors begin preparations for a full day of frying, sautéing, simmering and smoking. Next door, at Indus restaurant, Festival volunteers set up the open-air Kitchen Stage, as chefs prep their ingredients in the galley below. Welcome to the 2016 Ubud Food Festival: a three-day culinary adventure with Indonesian food as the star.

After winning the Yak Award for the Best Event in 2015, it’s clear that the Ubud Food Festival has found a welcome home amongst chefs, restaurants and food-lovers alike on the island. Returning from 27-29 May for its second year, the Ubud Food Festival program has swelled with considerable enthusiasm, now spanning more than 90 events and 60 culinary personalities. From free forum sessions exploring food heritage, sustainability and modernisation, to special events held across some of Ubud’s most-acclaimed dining establishments, the Festival is designed to suit any budget or culinary inclination, be it babi guling (suckling pig) paired with local craft beer, or raw-food fine-dining overlooking an organic vegetable garden. The only pre-requisite is to come with an empty stomach!

Headlining this year’s event are a mouth-watering line-up of international names, including recently named Asia’s Best Female Chef (World’s 50 Best Awards) Margarita Fores, owner and chef of MoVida Sydney, Melbourne and now Seminyak’s Frank Camorra and YouTube sensation and fish sustainability champion, Bart Van Olphen. National culinary icons include the ibu (mother) of Indonesian cuisine Sisca Soewitomo, popular TV personality Farah Quinn and long-stand food experts William Wongso, Petty Elliot and Bondan Winarno. The program also focuses heavily on culinary entrepreneurs helping to reinvent Ubud’s food scene at the local level, including including Indonesian chefs Agung Nugroho (Arang Sate Bar), Made Janur (MOKSA), Arif Spings (TAKSU) and Gede Paskara Karilo (Mr Wayan)", can you change Made Janur to "Made Runatha. 

Centring on the theme of Go Local, this year’s program challenges chefs to embrace the context of Indonesian cuisine, whether that’s heading to the early morning Ubud markets to source ingredients for a special event, working alongside some of Indonesia’s best and brightest in steamy kitchens, or getting inventive with hot coals and a bamboo fan in front of a live audience. Farmers and producers also feature heavily throughout the program; part of the Festival’s mission to improve linkages within the industry and solidify the island’s growing culinary reputation abroad. In short, it’s not just an event for the tasters – it’s for the growers, makers and innovators at the heart of Indonesia’s evolving palate. 

Most importantly, the Ubud Food Festival poses one of the culinary industry’s most pertinent questions: how can Indonesian food join the ranks of world-renowned cuisines, evolving and modernising while also staying true to its heritage and authenticity? It’s questions like these that drive initiatives like the Ubud Food Festival; bringing the archipelago’s leading culinary players to unite in their passions and aspirations, and creating a platform for them to share it with the world. Indeed, at the heart of the event is a pure celebration of Indonesia’s culinary achievements; from the humble yet succulent sate lilit (chicken sate) served from a street-side vendor, to the growing recognition of Indonesia’s chefs and restaurants in the world’s ever-expanding kitchen stage. 

More Information:
The Ubud Food Festival’s full program, line-up and tickets are now available via the website, at The event will take place from 27-29 May, at the Festival Hub @ Taman Kuliner (Jalan Raya Sanningan) and various venues throughout Ubud. 

Piece written by HOLLY REID

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