TaiwanFest 2017: Where food and cultures meet through culinary exchanges

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      At the annual TaiwanFest happening in Vancouver this weekend, Asian cultures get a delicious introduction through some of the events lined up for the party that celebrates everything Taiwanese.

      These include an international culinary competition, a contest between celebrity and home chefs, and a friendship picnic.

      The International Pan-Asian Culinary Invitational will pit local chefs with their Taiwanese counterparts in a friendly match that highlights different food traditions.

      “Food is always an excellent way to introduce different cultures and heritages to people and what we’re trying to do is really expand people’s perceptions of pan Asian cuisine,” Eddy Kuo, a manager with TaiwanFest, told the Straight in a phone interview.

      Among the local chefs participating in the competition is Sandra Chen with Torafuku, a Vancouver restaurant that interprets Asian flavours using native ingredients.

      “We discovered there’s a lot of local chefs here in Vancouver that would really benefit from having this platform for sharing their creations, so we thought it would be a good idea to do this pan-Asian culinary invitational,” Kuo said about the event.

      The International Pan-Asian Culinary Invitational will see a cook-off between Vancouver and Taiwanese chefs.

      Also participating in the invitational are Jeff Szombaty and Curtis Luk, executive chef of Hyatt Regency Vancouver and owner of Mission restaurant in Kitsilano, respectively. Cheng-Wei Wang and Ke-Chin Chang will represent Taiwan.

      The competition will be held at Robson Plaza. Round One is scheduled on Saturday (September 2) from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Round Two follows on the same day from 3 p.m. top 4 p.m. Round Three is from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

      One semi-final happens on Sunday (September 3) from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Another semi-final is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. The finals will be from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

      Kuo said that a new feature of the culinary event this year is a competition between celebrity chefs and home cooks.

      According to Kuo, the friendly culinary exchange will see chefs representing various Asian cuisines, including Japanese and Taiwanese cooking.

      The contest will be held on Monday (September 4) at the Robson Plaza in three installments:  12 noon to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

      TaiwanFest is also providing traditional Taiwanese treats for a couple of friendship picnics.

      According to Kuo, local organizations will be hosting invited guest to chat over snacks about topics of interest.

      The picnics are scheduled on Saturday (September 2) from 12 noon to 1 p.m. at the plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Monday (September 5) from 12 noon to 1 p.m. at the same venue. 

      TaiwanFest takes place from Saturday to Monday (September 2 to 4) at various downtown Vancouver locations, including the Vancouver Art Gallery and Granville Street. The complete schedule is available here.