Beyond Restaurant at Buitenverwachting. Picture: Supplied
Beyond Restaurant at Buitenverwachting. Picture: Supplied

How food and drink festival organisers try to creatively find solutions in the time of Covid-19

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Aug 26, 2021

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More than a year into the pandemic, many people are saying that the days of large festivals and concerts that drew massive crowds appear to have come to an end.

As many cultural events across the country were cancelled last year and some this year, organisers who made a living from such events are being crippled financially.

Some organisers though continue to adapt to the “new normal” by using alternative platforms to celebrate the festivals and also bolster the local economy. Food and drink festival organisers are creatively pivoting in the midst of a pandemic.

Not just a celebration of indulgence and consumption, food and beverage festivals are a celebration of diverse communities; whether centred around a particular style of cooking, or delves into regional specialties. They function as a method of bringing people together to break bread while sharing an experience and meal – an opportunity to try something new.

Take the annual Wine Harvest Commemorative event for example. Hosted at Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest wine estate for the 10th consecutive year, the event took the virtual turn this year.

The event involves three aspects, namely the Blessing of the Harvest, the commemoration of the wine industry’s existence, and the honouring of key role players. This year’s event, which took place earlier this year in February, also saw the addition of three new awards categories which were launched to honour three significant people for their contribution to the industry. These new categories were: Diversity and Transformation; Wine Appreciation and Wine Advancement; and Viticulture and Wine Creation.

The Wine Harvest Commemorative is not the only event that took the virtual route. South Africa’s inaugural Festive Vegan and Plant-Powered Show (FVPPS) took place late last-year and it also proved a huge success. More than 1 000 people took part in the six-hour event which featured cooking demonstrations from top local and international chefs, expert health and wellness speakers, and a virtual shopping mall.

The six-hour-long on-demand demos – which included MasterChef Australia favourite Simon Toohey, UK vegan sensation Gaz Oakley, Zimbabwe’s Nicola Kavhu as well as our own Luke Dale-Roberts, Chris Erasmus, Jenny Morris, and Elisha Madzivadondo – were made available until mid-January which means more people had the opportunity to watch the chefs and speakers in action.

Constantia Fresh Wine and Food Festival also recently brought people together by doing a food and wine pairing event. With their beloved annual Garden Party at Buitenverwachting not taking place due to safety protocols, they came up with a way to still celebrate the Constantia region’s fine cuisine and wines with glorious food and wine dinners. Those taking part were treated to a luxurious four-course dinner plus canapes prepared by chef Peter Tempelhoff, expertly paired with fine regional wines from Constantia’s best producers.

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