Friday, 21 August 2015

The 2015 Kampala Restaurant Week launch review.

From 2 – 13 June 2015, the pearl guide held the inaugural Kampala Restaurant Week which showcased titillating cuisine from 40 top participating restaurants at subsidised rates for the duration of the week. The prices ranged from 15,000 – 25,000 for casual and signature dishes respectively for the week. I must admit that this first of a kind event was conceptually both genius and refreshing for the marketer and food lover that I am.

So when I was invited to the Pearl Guide office along Kintu Road opposite Imperial Royale on Friday 15 May for the launch, I was thrilled to take part in the celebration of the finest food from the finest Ugandan restaurants. 

My e-invite via Twitter mentioned that this Nederburg sponsored event would begin at 6 and end at 8pm. Oh and before I forget, a thumbs up to the Pearl Guide as the organisers of the event for being in tune with the digital generation of today and utilising all tools available to promote all things wonderful to see, do and enjoy while in Uganda.

So as I made my way to the launch on that jam packed Friday afternoon that Ugandan streets are well known for, I was extremely excited to see how much further they would take this celebration of Ugandan cuisine. As I got to the entrance, I was asked for my name and identification which I graciously gave the lady with the list to cross check that I was actually on the invite list. She smiled when she found my name and ushered me to the lounge where she prompted me to take a selfie or photograph at their photo booth set up. I do not care much for photographs so I declined.

I was in the lounge by 6:10pm but to my disappointment the event did not start until 7:30p that evening and the organisers had only made arrangement for alcoholic refreshments for invitees with no allowance for those who preferred soft drinks. In as such this brief and interesting conversation ensued with one of the waiters serving at the event.

Me: ‘Hello, how are you?’

Waiter: ‘I am fine.’

Me: ‘I would like something to drink.’

Waiter: ‘Yes, will it be a white or a red,’ he politely said as he pointed at the wines displayed at the bar area.

Me: ‘No, no wine for me. Do you have something softer – soft drink perhaps like fresh juice?’

Waiter: ‘Yes, we have juice.’

Me: ‘Okay, please bring me a glass of a juice – preferably a fruit cocktail.’

Waiter: ‘Uhhm, juice is not on the house.’

Me: ‘Okay, that’s fine.’

Waiter: ‘You will have to pay 6,000 for it but the wine is on the house.’

Me: ‘That is fine, please bring me a glass of juice.’

Waiter: ‘Okay,’ he responded, and on delivery I paid for my drink.

Moral of the story with this particular conversation was that the waiter could not understand why I would want to pay for a glass of fresh fruit juice when there was an abundance of wine in circulation on the house. His confusion could clearly be read on his face every time he glanced in my direction from then on.

Many of you must be wondering why I would choose to write about this now especially since it transpired in mid – May. I was battling with whether to run it and criticise an evidently brilliant concept from a respectable and avid promoter of Uganda as a leading tourism destination or let it go and say nothing at all about ways this event could have been executed better of course punctuated with the fun loving personality of the Ugandan people. I chose to capture the latter which brings me to the rest of what transpired that day.

As serving of the food commenced, the crowd descended on the waiters who passed around with platters containing the 3 signature bites for tasting which were consumed in record time given the small quantity prepared for a crowd of approximately 40 people.

Me: ‘Waiter, what is the name of this dish you are serving.’

Waiter: ‘Ah, I do not know, but I can ask the chef’ he said with great hesitation.

Me: ‘Well, could you find out for me as I would be very grateful.’

Waiter: ‘For this one.’

Me: ‘No for all 3 dishes,’ I politely asked and as I completed my sentence he sped off in a bee line for the kitchen.

I was extremely surprised that a chef would send out waiters from his kitchen at an event such as this without them knowing what dishes they serving or the ingredients used to prepare them. 

But about 15 minutes later as this was still racking my brain, the MC run through the live tweets on the screen and saw my tweet and this question followed.

MC: ‘What are the names of the canapés served tonight?’ she asked as the party of 4 at my table discussed what exactly canapés were.

A Canapé is an appetizer consisting of a piece of bread or toast or a cracker topped with a savory spread but let’s just say as I thought this someone read my tweet and shot up their hand and instantly won a power bank.

Lady 1: ‘Canapés, what’s that?’

Lady 2: ‘Am guessing bitties.’

Lady 1: ‘Ohh the stuff we were eating.’

Lady 3: ‘Why didn't they simply say bites?’

The program was riddled with entertainment and giveaways, an abundant supply of the Nederburg brand of wines and some canapés with the alcohol food ratio at 3:1 which I found rather disturbing given that the core importance of the celebration was the food. That aside I assumed that at some point, our hosts would take the opportunity to highlight the way in which wines should be paired with canapés but I realised I was grossly over expectant. 

As I walked out of the event at 9:45pm with the fun fare and celebration still in full throttle I heard the MC say,
‘Guys, drink up! There is still wine and we need to finish all of it before we leave.’

Well for the food lovers like me out there who may be wondering, the food was finished within 20 minutes of commencement of serving that was about 8:20pm. Oh Ugandans but for the love of alcohol!

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