Taste of India 2018 food festival provided a unique and refreshing insight into the food and cultural habits of the South Asian diaspora living in the GTA

TORONTO, ON (August 26, 2018) – In an attempt to experience the true diversity and uniqueness of the South Asian diaspora living in the Greater Toronto Area, tens of thousands thronged to the 2018 Taste of India Food Festival. Toronto’s largest food South Asian festival, which was held on August 5, 2018 at the Nathan Phillips Square, downtown Toronto was also attended by dignitaries including the Consulate General of India in Toronto Dinesh Bhatia as well as the MPP for Mississauga – Streetsville Nina Tangri. The festival also received greetings from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Toronto’s Mayor John Tory.

“Over 70,000 people attended the festival during the course of the day,” said Rinku Shah, founder and CEO School of Flavours Ltd, organizers of this festival in partnership with Young Canadian Alliance. “Although we had doubled the number of vendors this year, and there were over 1000 unique dishes to try, many of our vendors were sold out twice and had to repeatedly order more food from their restaurants to keep with the demand.”

Over 55 food vendors participated in the event. Popular restaurants including Sanjeev Kapoor’s The Yellow Chilli set up booths at the festival and offered mini-size portions for $4.99. “The idea behind that was to allow people to sample a larger variety of the food that was on offer, as well as make it easy for people to participate and enjoy it to the best of their capacity,” says Vrajesh Shah, founder and Director of festival partner, Young Canadian Alliance. “Street food culture is relatively fresh idea in Canada and is one that can make significant contribution to the economic, social and environmental fabric of the country.”

The festival showcased the true versatility and diversity within the South Asian diaspora. Vendors serving a variety of meals from all parts of India, as well as non-stop cultural performances by Canadian artists of Indian origin. To amplify the fun factor, contests including the spin wheel, look alike, open mic, Biryani Quiz among others were held at regular intervals.

While the contests were mainly geared towards the adult population visiting the festival, kids weren’t completely ignored either. A special kid-zone was created, with bouncy castle, stuffy rides, water fountains and the works as well as organizers ensured the festival was completely accessible.

This is the second year School of Flavours is partnering with Young Canadian Alliance to host this event. “It is a partnership we are extremely grateful for,” says Rinku. “The mandate of Young Canadian Alliance fits right in with what we’re trying to do with the festival. And we hope to encourage and inspire more youth to participate in such events to raise awareness on a number of issues that exist around food and within their community.”

“This is also a great platform for second and third generation Canadians of South Asian origin to acquaint themselves with their culture as well as gain some valuable work experience within the Canadian setting,” says Vrajesh. “Last year our members and volunteers learnt how to put an event together. This year, we’ve involved them in some crucial decision-making roles such as booking the venue space, finalizing our sponsorship package and pitching and encouraging vendors to participate. We are hoping to nurture and groom young Canadians by offering them industry standard work experience that will allow them to seamlessly integrate into the job market once they complete their education.

“The Young Canadian Alliance believes this to be an ideal setting where producers, manufacturers, food vendors and restaurants can showcase what they have to offer as well as interact with their “ideal” clientele to create shared experiences that are the key to understanding and appreciating different cultures.”

Originally established in 2016 with the aim to coach and nurture special needs kids as food entrepreneurs, School Of Flavours Ltd is a growing Canadian corporation that believes in informing and education local residents regarding the role of food in society. The School has currently partnered with India’s largest Bollywood entertainment channel to create a show that promotes diverse South Asian cuisines and restaurants in North America. The School also organizes shows and events that promote healthy eating and healthy living.

With the aim to nurture and support young entrepreneurs in Food, Music, Media and Entertainment sectors, the Young Canadian Alliance was established in 2017. Young Canadian Alliance is currently instrumental in organizing GTA’s largest South Asian food festival and addresses crucial issues faced by the youth in Canada including positive self image, food insecurity and bullying among others.

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