The first episode of Coca-Cola presents Youth Dialogue by Glocal Khabar ended with a successful presence of students amidst an event held at the premises of NATHM College. The dialogue had a presence of three amazing personalities of the Food and Hospitality sector and the topic of the discussion was Food, Drink, and Identity: Prospects of Nepali Food Culture. The invitees of the Youth Dialogue First Episode were Mr. Ambuj Singh, Country Director of Coca-Cola Nepal; Mr.Shree Gurung, CEO and Chairman at Party Nepal, Owner of Octave Restaurant; and Mr.Yuvaraj Pokharel, Executive Chef at Soaltee Crown Plaza. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Saru Pyakurel, Communication Officer at Glocal Pvt. Ltd.
The discussion started linking Food and Identity together. Food habits differs from one region to another. According to Mr. Singh, Food is something that represents rich diversity of the people. Mr. Gurung here said-“You are what you consume; the food we consume actually represents what we are”. If we consume healthy food, it means we are living a healthy life. He highlighted the primary focus should be understanding healthy food and being proud of that food which are our identity. Whether the food is from Himalayas or Terai, all food found represents our geographical structure and food like Dhido, Sukuti, and Gundruk etc. represents our identity. Likewise, Mr. Pokharel said one’s value is incomplete without the other i.e. if there is no food, there is no culture. Therefore, food represents Nepal as a whole because it is linked to our culture.
Although food is the epitome of culture, little attention is paid to explore, understand and promote Nepali Food Culture. Mr. Gurung highlighted the main reason is the lack of proper understanding of the effective ways to promote the food. He gave an example of Nepali Thali, one of the traditional food which has many features that can catch the eyes of the foodie all around the world, but we lack in promoting our food properly. Likewise, Mr. Pokharel added there is a huge opportunity for Food Tourism in Nepal and we can create strategy to promote food on a bigger scale with the help of the authority, expertise and food enthusiasts.
In the context of Nepal celebrating Visit Nepal Year 2020, Mr. Pokharel put forwarded his point in bringing local ingredients, innovative menus, balanced varieties of Nepali Food and that the restaurants serving Nepali Food must be encouraged and promoted. He said- “Food is Innovation and Innovation always brings good results.” He also requested the Nepali Restaurants to introduce Nepali offerings to guests and recommended the use of Nepali Traditional Instruments like Sarangi, Madal, etc. that again adds Food and Culture together.
Mr. Gurung when asked about the interest of Youth in the Food and Drink Business, said the tendency of the Youth in the Food Industry is rapid these days. Not only getting innovative, but they are also bringing authentic Nepali taste onto the plates. He also said to initiate a new food joint, one must need to understand the food market. And the youth better understand the Youth, their tastes. So, the market strategy youths create eventually becomes successful.
The discussion was then led further by introducing the business of food, regarding Food and Drink’s contribution in Developing Tourism. Mr. Singh said-“Hygiene, Health and Happiness are the key elements in developing Food and Drink Industry”.However, this food and beverage industry is growing rapidly and it will continue to grow. Because of this, employment opportunities are created inside the country and the industry even paves their way globally. So, it depends on people about understanding food and he said food and drink business can promote Tourism in the country.
The first episode of Youth Dialogue ended with a very interesting discussion and the moderator linked the Quote from Leah Selim from UNICEF which states- “Food is not just a Culture, It’s a Diplomacy.”