Culture is inherently a phenomenon which brings people together. Whether it’s sitting together and having a cup of chai or something as grand as a gourmet spread on a festive occasion, Pakistani culture can never be complete without food being the center of attention. Thus, when playing with the idea of making people come together and enjoy a culinary delight, nothing comes more to mind than the ever-popular Karachi Eat Festival.
In its fourth year, the cult-favourite now aims for bigger and better things as it looks towards the capital after creating worthwhile experiences in both Karachi and Lahore.
Speaking to Instep, the co-founders of CKO – the brains behind the ‘Eat’ brand festivals – Omar Omari and Aslam Khan talked about their vision for the upcoming Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi Eat Festivals.
Starting of with IEF (Islamabad Eat Festival), the event is scheduled from the 10th to 12th November at the Jinnah Convention Center, where the aim is to have the signature open-air fest in the gardens of the venue.
“We want people to come together. There is a mix of passionate chefs and restaurants who have opted for a space at Islamabad Eat,” said Omar Omari, about the festival. “It’s the passion that comes out at such events. They are there themselves; they’re dealing with the crowd, cooking and serving you; it’s all so fresh. It’s not some faceless cook in the kitchen, it’s their own face and that’s what’s new with such festivals!”
Apart from the central venue, Islamabadians can enjoy a unique mix of diversity as well. Whether it’s the aroma of authentic Kashmiri cuisine or homemade baked goods from various places, Islamabad Eat promises a time well spent.
However, for the foodies who want more than just their daily dose of gluttony, there’s a promise of an art experience and probably live music as well.
“We’ve got a great art exhibition happening at the event. Nomad Gallery has fused food and art, so that’s surely something to look out for,” the co-founders explained. “However, although there’s always a creative aspect to the festival, we always make it clear that it’s more about the food and less about anything else. We don’t want to lose our focus; come here for the food and hear the music. That’s the association we’re very clear about.”
If music and art still doesn’t tickle one’s fancy, perhaps the best idea by the team behind Islamabad Eat has to be the introduction of live cooking demos by chefs of the College of Tourism and Hotel Management (COTHM). Planning a session where the internationally accredited chefs can show their prowess and talent, the event provides a platform for the up and coming chefs to be seen by the public and possible restaurateurs.
With all said and done, the real question remains whether the festival has the right idea to run its course in a city like Islamabad, which doesn’t really have a claim to fame when it comes to cuisine. After all, it is the aroma of Burnes Road in Karachi or Gawalmandi in Lahore, which gives both the metropolitans – and their corresponding festivals – their unique culinary edge.
After Islamabad, the CKO team is already looking at Lahore’s renowned Jillani Park – famously known as the Race Course Park – as their next venue in Lahore. LEF, the Lahore Eat Festival, will take place from the 24th to the 26th of November.
As the year ends, the New Year will also see a brand new location for Karachi Eat, along with some new ideas being added to the event. However, more on that later.