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  • The Nusantara Bulletin

Celebrating Flavors of Indonesia at Ubud Food Festival 2024


The Ubud Food Festival returned for a highly anticipated three-day weekend from May 31 to June 2, 2024, bringing together food enthusiasts and culinary experts for an unforgettable celebration of feasts and festivities. Over those vibrant days, Ubud transformed into a culinary haven, with more than 100 chefs, culinary icons, restaurateurs, environmental activists, and innovators filling the air with tantalizing aromas and lively discussions.


Launched in 2015 by Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati, the Ubud Food Festival (UFF) aimed to showcase Indonesia’s rich culinary traditions on a global stage. It celebrated the finest food Indonesia had to offer and the culinary diversity of the archipelago. The festival gave young Indonesians an opportunity to improve their skills through masterclasses and cooking demos while providing exciting networking opportunities. It also included dynamic discussions on global issues such as the environment, sustainability, and food systems, recognizing the vital role that sustainable practices play in preserving culinary heritage and ensuring future generations can enjoy these unique flavors.


A grand total of 16.000 attendees were treated to an action-packed program featuring both ticketed and free events. The festival’s diverse offerings ranged from long-table lunches and degustation dinners by the region’s most celebrated chefs to panel discussions, food tours, workshops, masterclasses, free film screenings, and live music. The promise of extraordinary food and engaging conversations was more than fulfilled. 


A highlight of the festival was the inaugural Sustainability Forum at Indus Restaurant on Festival Friday, where enthusiasts gathered to discuss responsible practices in the culinary world. This focus on sustainability was integrated throughout the event, from workshops on sustainable farming and fishing methods to panels on the importance of preserving biodiversity. The festival's famous Food Market, offering free access to all, became a hotspot for foodies, showcasing the vibrant street food scene through cooking demonstrations that emphasized the use of local and sustainable ingredients. Coffee aficionados indulged in a Sunday dedicated to coffee workshops and talks during the Full of Beans - Coffee Day, where discussions also touched on sustainable coffee production.



The festival truly stressed the importance of sustainability and environmental conservation in preserving the richness of Indonesia's culinary landscape. Sustainable practices, such as responsible fishing and farming methods, ensured that seafood and agricultural produce remained abundant and healthy, directly affecting the quality and authenticity of the food. Environmental conservation efforts protected the biodiversity that contributed to the variety and richness of local cuisines, allowing future generations to experience and enjoy these flavors. Moreover, promoting sustainability helped raise awareness among tourists, encouraging them to support and respect local efforts in preserving the environment and its resources. The Ubud Food Festival not only celebrated food but also championed the cause of sustainability, making it a truly enriching experience for all.


The festival kicked off with a press conference at Indus Restaurant, attended by distinguished personalities such as Chairman of Mudra Swari Saraswati Foundation Dr. Drs. I Ketut Suardana, M.Fil.H; Festival Founder & Director Janet DeNeefe; Festival Ambassador & Putri Indonesia 2022 Laksmi DeNeefe Suardana; Sumatran-born Chef Owner of Silk Bistro Freddie Salim; Founder of Bali Restaurant and Cafe Association Chris Salans; and New Zealand’s award-winning chef Nick Honeyman.


Adding to the festival's allure were gastronomic trailblazers like the 2024 World Barista Championship winner Mikael Jasin, renowned Balinese chef Wayan Kresna Yasa, award-winning Indian chef Deepanker Khosla, internationally acclaimed Indonesian Hong-Kong based bartenders Agung and Laura Prabowo, Korean celebrity chef Daeyong Kwon, and Papuan jungle chef Charles Toto.


Bali’s living legend, Ni Wayan Murni, was honored with the 2024 Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. Her iconic warung, established in 1974, had become a renowned refuge for travelers and a testament to her unwavering commitment to Balinese heritage. “Murni's vision not only left a lasting impact on Bali's culinary and hospitality landscape but also deeply touched countless visitors with her warmth and passion for sharing the beauty of her homeland,” Janet DeNeefe remarked with heartfelt admiration.


Festival Ambassador Laksmi DeNeefe Suardana, also Putri Indonesia 2022, graced the official trailer for the festival, which premiered at the Opening Press Conference. Directed by Indonesian filmmaker Ivan Handoyo, the trailer, set across various picturesque locations in Bali, showcased the island’s rich traditions and offered a glimpse into its soul, where each dish narrated a story of heritage, community, and the vibrant spirit of its people.


“I felt truly honored to be part of this project that highlighted the island’s natural bounties and honored the hard-working farmers, fishermen, and families sharing treasured recipes across generations," said Laksmi DeNeefe Suardana. "A huge thank you to the entire cast who contributed to this incredible journey to create such an amazing film.”


Reflecting on the festival’s success, Janet DeNeefe expressed, "With over 100 exciting programs and an equivalent number of talents, it’s clear that our festival has become the country’s biggest celebration of all things food. We welcomed everyone with an appetite for extraordinary cuisine, inspiring stories, and thrilling food adventures. Indonesian food, particularly its street food, is world-class, and its culinary legacies, icons, and rising stars are now on the world’s stage. We were delighted to see everyone arrive hungry and leave inspired."


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