Best of UFF18
In 2015, Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati started the very first Ubud Food Festival, a three-day culinary adventure that aims to bring together chefs, culinary experts, travellers, and foodies from around the country, the region, and the world to celebrate the flavours of Indonesia. In its four years, it has grown into Southeast Asia’s leading culinary event that takes pride in showcasing Indonesia’s diverse cuisines, extraordinary local produce, and culinary heroes.
UFF Founder & Director Janet DeNeefe explains that each year, UFF carries a different theme to key in on the best of Indonesian cuisine from varying perspectives. “Our 2017 theme ‘Every flavor is a story’ explored Indonesia’s rich culinary heritage and the stories we tell through food. In 2018 we’re shining a spotlight on the future of Indonesia’s food industry, from social media sensations to environmental solutions, successful startups to socially responsible enterprises. Whether emerging or established, we’re raising the voices of those at the vanguard of Indonesian food innovation,” she continued.
“While these switched-on foodies are finely tuned to the rapidly changing culinary landscape, many of them are continuing to honorIndonesia’s culinary culture through exciting transformations. At UFF18, we’ll also be paying tribute to the culinary icons who have paved the way and created a legacy for today’s generation to embrace innovation, while also celebrating Indonesia’s diverse heritage and culture with pride.”
The progressive and stimulating theme is inspired by Indonesia’s young, tech-savvy population, who are driving the nation’s booming innovation economy. Through the lens of ‘Generasi Inovasi’ (Innovation Generation), UFF18 celebrated innovative and sustainable ideas in Indonesia’s food industry, which are extremely monumental in shaping the future of food culture and social heritage in the vast archipelago that is Indonesia.
From the Gala Opening Night Party set above Campuhan Ridge where culinary enthusiast gathered and brushed shoulders with chefs and industry experts over canapés and cocktails to the festive Unofficial After Party at The Night Rooster, the Ubud Food Festival 2018 Presented by ABC was enjoyed by more than 12,000 hungry foodies from 13 – 15 April – a staggering 30% increase compared to last year’s attendance. In its fourth year, the record numbers attending the 100+ events fortifies its position as Southeast Asia’s leading culinary celebration, with the spotlight on Indonesian food and its food industry members shining brighter than ever.
At the Festival Hub and across Ubud’s most coveted venues, over 100 chefs, farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs, social enterprise founders and outstanding innovators from across the archipelago and the Asia Pacific plated up hundreds of different dishes, and hosted numerous cooking demos and presentations, all in order to share their knowledge in appreciation of Indonesia’s – and the world’s – culinary depths.
Over the duration of the culinary festival, guests can choose to attend cooking demonstrations, special events and food tours to masterclasses, in-depth discussions and film screenings, the Festival reflects every budget and taste.
Ubud Food Festival is a major annual project of the Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati, with a vision of enriching the lives of Indonesians through community-building and cultural programs. It is the sibling event of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival and Bali Emerging Voices Program.
Held across Ubud’s top dining destinations, the Festival’s 17 special events saw local and international chefs sharing kitchens to celebrate local produce and culinary heritage with innovative fine dining flair. One of the Festival’s hottest tickets was Locavore featuring Rydo Anton, a collaboration between Ubud’s hometown heroes Locavore and the Indonesian-born Head Chef of Bangkok’s Gaggan, voted Asia’s Best Restaurant for the past four years. Chef Rydo is already planning to collaborate with Locavore again, a testament to the UFF’s mission of fostering professional networks throughout the region.
Ubud’s Nusantara by Locavore and Jakarta’s NUSA Indonesian Gastronomy celebrated the nation’s rich culinary heritage with a remarkable array of refined traditional dishes. Nusantara’s Chef Putu and NUSA’s Chef Ragil Iman Wibowo, Jakarta’s Best Eats Chef of the Year, served the best of the archipelago in the style they grew up with: sharing plates prepared with time-honored techniques and recipes spanning generations.
UFF also brought in a number of award-winning chefs from abroad. Chef Sun Kim of Meta, Singapore, who draws upon his heritage to inspire his food, rained and built his French and Italian foundation in Seoul. He then sharpened his skills by working in world renowned and Michelin-starred restaurants in Sydney and Singapore. His hard work bore fruit in 2017, when Chef Sun and his team received their own Michelin star, cementing Meta as one of Singapore’s sought after restaurants.
Chef Sun Kim’s demo at the festival included the popular Korean dish Bibimbap with a unique twist, featuring crab meat, salted egg, and the chef’s very own secret chilli sauce. He also had a sold-out dinner collaboration at Kubu at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve with executive chef Maurizio Bombini.
Drawing inspiration from Asian food and cultures and presenting them in novel ways, Chef-Owner of Morsels (Restaurant of the Year and Chef’s Choice (Western) at the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence 2017), Petrina Loh, utilizes her brilliant culinary imagination to present wildly creative dishes that Morsels are renowned for. She demonstrated her specialties, which are marrying Asian food cultures with her own signature methods, including fermenting, pickling, and ageing her ingredients. This particular show came highly appreciated by adventurous foodies who adore exhilarating Asian flavors.
Another notable event at the first night of the festival was set at the glorious surrounds of Mozaic, where Chef-Owner Chris Salans shared his kitchen with other maestros, including Daniele Taddeo of GROW Bali, Kevin Cherkas of Cuca, Kieran Morland of Merah Putih, and MandifWarokka of BLANCO par Mandif. With each chef dishing out their signature dishes from five of Bali’s most sought after dining venues, guests were left dazzled by all the first-rate flavours and revitalized by the energy coming from the kitchen that’s channelled into each plate.
UFF 2018 saw a great many culinary experts and celebrity chefs together as they each presented vastly unique offerings to celebrate Indonesian food.
Another sold-out event was the World Class Culinary Collective dinner at Room4Dessert on 15 April. It was a meeting of culinary minds with Michelin-starred Cheek by Jowl’s Rishi Naleendra, much vaunted Mejakawi by KuDeTa’s Benjamin Cross and Stephen Moore, and KAUM’s Wayan Kresnayasa present their signature dishes, followed by world class sweet temptations from the team at Room4Dessert.
As the festival came to its conclusion, it is clear that the energy and activities surrounding the event contributed leaps and bounds to making Indonesia’s culinary scene go global, and this, in turn, prepares the organizers to deliver an even better festival in 2019. In her closing statement, Janet remarked, “We feel our efforts in making Indonesia’s culinary scene go global are finally being recognized, and this energizes us to deliver an even better festival in 2019. I want to express my deepest gratitude to all sponsors, partners, volunteers, media, chefs and speakers, and of course our audiences, for sharing our love of Indonesian culinary heritage and the exciting future of Indonesia’s food industry. We’ll see you all next year!”
“In 2018 we’re shining a spotlight on the future of Indonesia’s food industry, from social media sensations to environmental solutions, successful startups to socially responsible enterprises.”