You recently organized FoodTreX in Nepal. Can you tell us something about the same?
FoodTreX is a similar concept to TEDx. It’s the country's first food tourism conference under the name FoodTreX Kathmandu created by the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) as the umbrella brand name for the association’s food and beverage travel trade events. Despite having an extensive food and drink culture, Nepal has not been able to tap the immense potential in gastronomic tourism. With facts and figures to back them up, we strongly believe that food is the way to a tourist’s heart. We invited many speakers from a variety of fields in this conference, such as Deepak Raj Joshi, Karna Shakya, Binayak Shah, and many other reputed personalities in the tourism sector. We are developing food tourism in Nepal with this concept. I also want to showcase the chef talent around the culinary areas of the world.
How do you see the Nepali chefs in the global scenario?
Nepali chefs, despite having immense potential to march forward, are left backwards, I feel. They are limited to hotels and their daily job requirements. They are not being able to showcase their creativity. For this reason, my company Two Tables works to organize programs that educates about food, because I feel that, for Nepali cuisine to go global, it’s up to our chefs. For example, recently, a team from Hub created bhakka, a food from the eastern part of the country. This shows how talented they are, but we have not been able to take all our items outside the nation.
What difference do you find in the food culture as per your experience in Sydney and Nepal?
I feel, in Nepal, we still have not reached that level of food development. Outside Nepal, people are so enthusiastic to make food, rather than just eating. Here, we love eating, but we still lag behind when it comes to developing recipes. I don’t find interest among the chefs to do that.
What strengths do you find in Nepali food that can help us develop food tourism?
Our food stories are unheard, untold, and unexplored. Though we have many varieties of food, it’s still not researched to the optimum level. If we look in India’s culinary scene, it’s not just about butter chicken, which was developed by the English. Rather, there are so many ethnic cuisines that are being developed by young energetic chefs at different levels. We have cuisine from Sherpa communities that can actually break boundaries, but we are not being able to showcase the same. We make more than 200 items out of buffalo meat, still they are not explored. We have pork among the Rai community, which we develop in many interesting ways.
Why are we not being explore these ethnic cuisines
Our chefs don’t prefer staying in the country after their studies. It’s one of the basic reasons why we don’t have a proper food recipe book in Nepal, as all the educated ones have left the country. Outside, there is media purely dedicated to food and they know how food can attract tourism. Here, rather than making our own food, we prefer having expertise in pastas and pizzas. For instance, Bikash Khanna from India has opened up a culinary museum there. He went outside, learnt, and now he’s applying the same in India. That should happen in our country, as well.
What are your immediate plans now?
We are thinking to strengthen Nepali chefs who are young and train them, so that they can go global. We have collaborated with many partners like HAN, Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal, and also with media. I’m also thinking of a restaurant chain, so that I can take Nepal’s food into the limelight.
Your message to the upcoming young chefs out there?
Chef is like a celebrity. It involves a lot of hard work. It is also a very good form of economy. It’s all about how to implement your talent in the same. Let’s promote our native ingredients and reinvent them, so that we understand where we can take our Nepali food.