A variety of flavours on offer at Karachi Eat Festival 2019

A FULLY loaded jacket potato ready to go and crowds (right) at the festival at Clifton’s Beach Park on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The Karachi Eat Festival (KEF), despite competition from several other smaller festivals held in the city, enjoys a cult-like status and on Friday, the event’s opening day, Karachiites thronged the Beach Park in Clifton to partake in the latest culinary offerings that aim to push the traditional boundaries of fast food and gourmet meals.

“With around 95 food stalls this year, almost 56 are of home cooks, or budding ‘foodpreneurs’, who don’t have restaurants of their own, who are the real gems of the festival,” says Omar Omari of CKO Event Architecture, the organisers of the festival.

There are many success stories that have come out from the KEF. Wingitt, Desi Gali, Jucy Lucy all started off as stalls at the KEF and ventured out and became big businesses. Babamoo is one such success story that has emerged from the KEF and has made a name in Karachi’s culinary world.

‘Karachi is an audience hungry for innovation in the area of food’

Run by brothers Ibad and Nabil, along with two other partners, the Babamoo stall was in full swing on the first day as the orders had already started rolling in moments after the KEF was officially open. “When we first took part in last year’s KEF we wanted to launch an item that hadn’t been introduced to foodies in Karachi before — the jacket potato and innovative toppings. To be honest we had not expected it to sell much as it was a niche product. However, the outcome and feedback we got was tremendous. Within five hours we had sold off the stock we had planned for three days.”

The brothers opened up their first restaurant in March. Nabil is of the opinion that “Karachi is an audience hungry for innovation in the area of food and the KEF is an essential place that provides a platform to budding foodpreneurs.”

Tayyaba Gul’s patisserie tucked away in one corner at the KEF is another such home-based venture that is introducing to the Karachi audience flavours from France. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, she returned to Pakistan almost two years ago and established Le Saint Honoré Pâtisserie, which focuses entirely on French desserts. Her signature offering are smaller versions of the St. Honoré cake, also known as St. Honoratus cake, which is a pastry named for the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs.

According to Omari, the design philosophy behind KEF is to make the festival look premium but making it accessible to everybody. This allows those from all walks of life access to a shared space at the same time, and on Friday the KEF seemed to have successfully accomplished this vision.

A parking map, event layout and stalls list is provided on the Facebook page of the festival. The KEF 2019 will continue on Saturday and Sunday, from 12.30pm to 10.30pm.