Indeed, in order to promote a country’s food and tradition, it is usually promoted through culinary activities that are organized by both government and non-government sectors. Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam is not an exception. However the culinary events hosted in Brunei is not celebrated in bigger scales as compared to other countries. It is still celebrated in fairly smaller scales and modestly. This is because the culinary industry in Brunei in terms of the arts of cooking local cuisine and promoting local chefs is still largely untapped. Even though Bruneians love their food and the food industry here is heavily celebrated, the promotion of cooking local cuisine through culinary event is still in it earlier phase or can be said that it is still in its baby steps. Although it is still in smaller scale, it is not to be looked down as small steps can lead to bigger call. Now let’s see how the Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam host their culinary events.
One of the celebrated culinary events would be the Eko Kampung Cuisine 2016 that was organized by Eco Ponies Garden and Astera Consultant. The word Kampung in Eko Kampung Cuisine 2016 literally meant rural. As the name suggested it is an event that celebrate the rural cuisine that is still untouched by any urban fusion style of cooking that is in-trend in present culinary industries. The event was held in Kampong Bang Nukat; a rural village located in Tutong district in Brunei Darussalam. In this culinary event, a recipe based competition was held in theme of “Cooking with Fruits and Flowers”. It is to encourage to use of local fruits and flowers rather than using an ingredient that originates outside of Brunei as a base for cooking. In addition, this culinary event was celebrated at the same time as the local fruit season. The winner of the competition recipe will be published through iCookAsia Brunei’s website. iCookAsia Brunei (www.icookasia.com/bn) is a website that is recently launched this year; not long after the event ended. It is basically a website dedicated to promote Asian cuisine, which includes local Brunei cuisine.
Another culinary event that are hosted in Brunei would be the Flavors of BIMP-EAGA: Culture and Food Expo 2016. It is a culinary event that promotes collaboration of culinary not only from the Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam but also Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. It is a joint event that allows the sharing of local culinary interests both nationally (promotion of Brunei’s local food to the local itself) and internationally (within the participating countries). About 30 booths were stood up as small and medium enterprises were invited from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines and of course, not forgetting Brunei Darussalam. The event was held in Atrium of The Airport Mall; a shopping mall located in Brunei-Muara district. It lasted for five days. One of the activities hosted from Brunei Darussalam is a “cacah ambuyat” demonstration. A demonstration on how the dipping sauce of ambuyat (sticky starch made from sago); a representative local cuisine of Brunei Darussalam were made.
Brunei Darussalam also attempted to not solely promoting through holistic scale of food based only culinary event but, is trying also to collaborate with a non-culinary event. For example, it is noted that a cycling event of 25km was held through the beautiful rural terrains and forests with beautiful scenery. This is hosted in conjunction of the Eko Kampung Cuisine 2016 that was described earlier. Then later in that day of the event, the cyclers and other attendees were invited to see demonstrations by local chef on how to utilize local ingredients in cooking. This is one of the strategies on how Brunei Darussalam attracts people to join the culinary event and how it will promote local ingredients and cuisine through other non-culinary event such as cycling.
Such examples described above definitely opened a pathway for local culinary industries to bloom. Though only small-scale events were hosted, these baby steps are surely promising. Most definitely, people will be looking forward to see the future where local culinary events will be hosted in major scales; in which it will be heavily celebrated by the locals and recognized by international parties.
By Mohamad Akmal Fauzan ABU BAKAR, ASEAN Correspondent from Brunei Darussalam