I don’t usually need a reason to gorge myself on international cuisine being that I tend to sample any and everything that catches my senses, but this weekend presents a unique exception.
The 2nd annual Kaohsiung International Food Festival kicks-off this Saturday and will offer ample opportunity to stuff your face with foreign goodies from Kaohsiung’s expat chefs. Expect to see less stinky tofu and more smoked ribs and levercase.
Around 30 restaurants and food vendors from 19 different countries will be showcasing their fare throughout the weekend and several will be competing for Best Pizza and Best Burger titles. Festival goers can also flex their skills in several competitions including the Waiguoren Wok Challenge (foreigners cooking Taiwanese food for a panel of Taiwanese judges) and an air guitar competition benefiting local charity, Haxstrong.
Besides the food there will be a DJ ad several local bands on deck to help deal with “The Itis” (AKA food coma) and an MC will floating around interviewing participants and helping to move the event along smoothly.
The festival is being put on by Event Chairman and Kaohsiung veteran Ryan Parsons who was able to field a few questions about this year’s KIFF and the festival’s origins:
DT: How long have you been in Kaohsiung?
RP: On and off since 2000. I arrived the day Chen Shui-bien got elected and the country was going crazy! It calmed down the next day but I thought it would be that hysterical all the time.
DT: What are a few things that you’ve seen change since you arrived?
RP: The city isn’t even close to what is was like in 2000. The government has (since) funded city projects that have truly made Kaohsiung a city of the future. The international community was non – existent when I arrived and now we have the largest international food festival on the island that is completely run from top to bottom by the expat community.
DT: How did the idea come about to put together a food festival in Kaohsiung?
RP: When I used to have restaurants what I loved most was sharing my culture’s food with the locals in the same way they get excited about sharing their local cuisine with us (foreigners). As the international community increased in size so did the restaurants opening to serve them. Its been a project of mine for 4 years and I’m blessed to have such great foreign restaurants to be able to make it a possibility.
DT: Can we expect to see Taiwanese food vendors as well?
RP: The Taiwanese have so many unique and fantastic festivals and markets. It’s our turn to serve them and treat them to a weekend of our food, music and culture. Thank you for making us feel at home, Taiwan!
DT: What’s included in this year’s KIFF that wasn’t a part of the festival last year?
RP: The Waiguoren Wok competition, Kaohsiung’s Best Pizza competition, Latin dancing lessons, (food) demonstration and interactive video tents, A Bourbon Street bar and stage, more food and drink and a wider array of music and activities.
DT: One thing the absolutely MUST be sampled at this year’s KIFF?
RP: With prices starting at $60 NT we’ve made it possible to sample everything, though you may have to come both days.
Ryan graciously dodged plugging any specific vendor on that last one, but I’ll personally be seeking out Deutsche Kuche’s Bavarian roasted pork knuckle, and Mama Africa’s roti.
Keep in mind that this is a green event and everyone is encouraged to bring their own plate and utensils or else borrow them from the KIFF information desk.
The festival takes place at the Kaohsiung Dream Mall (look for the dubious ferris wheel on the roof).
Sat. 3/23 12 pm-9 pm
Sun. 3/24 12 pm-7 pm
Be sure to check out the KIFF website for updates, full menu and entertainment listings and vendor & sponsor info.