A tête-à-tête with Celebrity Chef Karen Anand
“Bengaluru Farmers’ Market” by Karen Anand returns to VR Bengaluru on October 15- 16th
After more than forty successful Farmers’ Markets across the country; with over a hundred local restaurants, dozens of avid home bakers and chefs, wineries and 200,000+ visitors – Karen Anand and her team are back with the Bengaluru Farmers’ Market at the stunning shopping destination VR Bengaluru in Whitefield on 15th and 16th October, 2016.
Karen Anand: “It’s not just the sheer quality of the food on offer that makes our Farmers’ Markets special – it is also about the people and the place. We hope to create a market which becomes a repository of culinary knowledge and understanding. It’s a place to explore, to ask questions, to discover new flavours, to savour a unique atmosphere and to have fun!”
Me: How did you become interested in hosting a Farmers’ Market? How is the market in 2016 different from the market last year?
Karen: I have been working with “gourmet” food in India for over 25 years. My passion has always been to try and highlight the amazing produce and specialities India has and make that available to everyone in India and later on to the world. This entails good packaging and glamorising the story behind each product. We started the market in Pune in a lovely lush area of the Westin in December 2012. We moved onto Mumbai, and then Gurgaon invited us to do something similar with them. We have also done markets in Goa, Kolkata and of course Bangalore.
We try and keep a good mix of regulars and new participants. This involves painstaking research by our team. The split is usually 50-50 between regulars and new vendors.
Me: Why do you think organic is important? Why it is important to you to support local agriculture?
Karen: Let me be clear. We are not an organic market, although we do encourage organic produce. We are a natural whole foods produce market. Some of our vendors are farmers. Others are small local would-be entrepreneurs who want to try their hand at something natural and this gives them a perfect platform to test market their products at a very low cost.
By purchasing locally grown food you will be strengthening your community by investing your food rupee close to home. Also, whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.
Me: Do you think Bangalore has a kind of bigger consciousness about why it is important to stay local within the community as opposed to other cities?
Karen: Bangalore is definitely ahead of other cities in two ways – firstly because of its cosmopolitan nature, it is more accepting of new trends and secondly I feel people from Bangalore are quite proud of their culture and I notice a lot of small communities within Bangalore still exist buying local breads. There is already a very deep ingrained culture to buy local.
Me: When you think of Karnataka, there are a lot of rural connotations. What about the roadside farm stands? Is the farmers’ market movement a product of increasing urbanization?
Karen: To be truthful, we are not involved in that part of the agri movement. Those who encourage local farmers on a mass scale to sell directly to the public are doing a huge service and I applaud that. However, what we offer is something very different. We are really bringing together people from local communities everywhere so that someone from the Bangalore market, for example, will be able to taste honey from Kumaon and beeswax soap made from a farm in Kolkata.
Me: What are some recipes that you like making with the food you buy from your market?
Karen: This is very difficult to do in a few lines but I love to make black rice pudding with the black rice I buy from Naturally Yours and many recipes using our own Pune Farmers’ Market products. If you need recipes I would be happy to send them to you separately.
Pune Farmers’ Market products
Me: Share something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business. And, do you have any future dreams for this market?
Karen: People think that I eat very complicated glamourous food at home. It’s true when I entertain we make a huge effort to pair wines and cocktails and produce something exotic. However on a daily basis I am very happy with a soup and a salad or even a daal khichdi. I love South Indian pickles and curd rice.
People think that it is a very easy thing to pull off but there are so many things behind organizing a small farmers’ market – production, execution, types and varieties of stalls and finally keeping everyone happy. It’s a mammoth task specially since we are in 9 cities and have to deal with different people in each city. Ideally I would like to take the market to every big city in India because I honestly feel our children are getting out of touch with natural produce. Bigger and better is the way we would like to go.
Me: Lastly, what keeps bringing you back to VR Bengaluru as your venue of choice?
Karen: VR Bengaluru is a fabulous combination of a beautiful venue with the kind of TG and footfall our market benefits from. It’s a win win situation for us and VR Bengaluru, and we are very happy with this relationship.
About Bengaluru Farmers’ Market
In the age of home gourmets, culinary adventures and a return to natural foods, finally a lifestyle market which is a source of exceptional Indian produce, where the city’s foodies can congregate to explore curated culinary experiences including a fresh and novel array of exhibitors from across the city and diverse spaces such as horticulture, boutique food manufacturers, kitchenware, cheese, vegetable and fruit farmers and start up vendors who will come together to offer a super gourmet shopping experience.
What to look forward to this time?
Exhibitors at the Bengaluru Farmers’ Market will include Vero and Bonhomia with Indian coffee capsules and easy to use coffee machines, great cheese by Kerry Gold Irish cheese. Fresh Pressery with healthy juices, cold pressed oils from the Oil Collective and Theo Organics with pink salt, honey and herbs from Kumaon. Back to Basics – organic fruits and vegetables, exotic fruit from IG International and all the way from Pune, Green Tokri with vegetables and herb plants. New to the market are Ausum teas – organic tea, Kairo milk and Habanero, Mexican salsas without chemical preservatives. All the way from Kolkata, Madura’s Organic Mandi with handmade soaps and vegetables and Matru Ayurveda with some brilliant wellness products. Your spiritual needs will be fulfilled by wines from Grover Zampa and Big Banyan!
BFM is the perfect opportunity to spend your weekend leisurely enjoying the beautiful October weather, eating, drinking, learning and meeting other food and drink enthusiasts.
Saturday and Sunday 15th and 16th October 2016
Timings: 12pm to 10pm
Address: VR Bengaluru, 60/2, ITPL Main Rd, Mahadevapura, Bangalore