Worlds Food Festival – Des Moines
September 20, 2016
Below the bridge lies the Des Moines river, reflecting the color of the sky above it. In between the two, rows of white tents bring together flavors from every corner of the world. Shouts in collected dialects are heard from vendors representing their own countries, to the people that enjoy their product. ‘Mmms’ and ‘aaahs’ are heard, from the public devouring each cuisine. Music blasts in every direction while people cram into long lines, hoping to taste something new. This is to be expected at the World Food Festival, taking place on the Court Avenue Bridge, September 16-18.
The festival took off Friday, September 16th, at noon with performances from Eric McCabe, Tavita Taueetia, Josie Shaw, and live entertainment provided by the Farm Bureau Financial Services. This is the twelve-year anniversary for the festival, and the biggest World Food Festival that ever with 45 different vendors. One of the restaurants involved, who has participated each year, is Yanni’s Grill.
“It’s very good we keep on doing [this] because we try to relate with the community… it’s a very well organized festival,” said Ozzy Ochoa, the chef from Yanni’s grill. This establishment represents Greece and Italy, and is located In Ankeny.
8,334 miles away from Athens stands Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, and representing Hawaii and Polynesia at the festival is Nay Baccam of Hawaiian Grill. “I feel great because I feel like we’re unique and we try to get people in the area to explore the different cultures, the different cuisines so I feel great about it, [being] able to have the opportunity to bring in those unique cuisines in the area.” Like all restaurant representatives, Baccam is proud of the food she serves to Iowa, and even prouder to show her culture. “I am here in Iowa to bring in a unique cuisine… so that way [customers] don’t have to fly 5,000 miles to see what the cuisine is like,” stated Baccam. This is a mindset held by many restaurants who present their own cultures.
Café Fuzion is an ‘Asian Fusion’ restaurant that serves a combination of Thai, Vietnamese, and Laotian food. Located in Des Moines, Cafe Fuzion has won the People’s Choice Vendor Hall of Fame title for the past four years.
One of the other Asian vendors from the festival is Paradise Biryani Pointe, representing India. Paradise Biryani Pointe uses ‘Hyderabadi Cuisine’, originating from the city of Hyderabad, India. This type of food is prepared ‘with emphasis on choosing the right spices and cooking to the right degree and time’ according to their website.
“The people who generally come to the festival are more adventurous, they come with an intention of trying more authentic food… that’s what makes it a lot of fun for us,” says the owner of the establishment.
Downtown Des Moines is grateful to have the opportunity to experience all these different cultures in Iowa, and will continue to have this opportunity for many years to come.