KUCHING: The Bario Food Festival held recently at the Tribal Stove, the only Kelabit restaurant in Kuching was a success.
Hundreds of people donated generously by purchasing coupons in exchange for a traditionally cooked meal.
Long lines formed during lunch and dinner hours and the response to the food was certainly encouraging.
Organised by the Women’s wing of Rurum Kelabit Sarawak, members of the community presented a smorgasbord of delicious organic food from the Kelabit Highlands which included dishes such as ‘busak keluduh’ and ‘ubud tubu buen’ which is ginger flower and wild ginger pith salad and ‘launau’ which is local asparagus grown in the highlands.
For many of the guests, this was a first-time experience in savouring Kelabit cuisine.
Among them were Adeline Ong, from Singapore who came with her husband, Eugene Chin and a host of friends.
“I think the food is just incredible.
“This is my first time savouring food from the Kelabit highlands and I just can’t get over how fresh and organic everything is. The whole environment felt so authentic with traditional music and dancing in the background,” she enthused.
Also enjoying the unique culinary and cultural experience was Sabrina Bujang who came with Jiman, a guest from Kuala Lumpur.
“The event was really fun and unique. I enjoyed the food tremendously and we stayed on for quite a while to enjoy the performances and meeting people from all over. I think we overstayed and we had so much fun that unfortunately my friend missed his flight. He has no regrets though as we all had a great time.”
Apart from food, the event also showcased the wonderful dance and music from the Kelabit highlands, featuring cultural dances by ‘Anak Adi’, a griup of young members of the community accompanied by the amazing sounds of live sape’ music played by accomplished musicians such as Julian Cottet from Paris who gave a wonderful rendition of contemporary ‘sape’ music and Desmond Junek who gave an equally awesome rendition of traditional Orang Ulu music.
The food fair was organised to raise awareness of the Bario and Kelabit Food and Cultural Festival or Pesta Nukenan, which is a yearly event, held in Bario, organised by the Women’s Group (Kaum Ibu).
Now in its eighth year, the event will be held from July 25 – 27.
Rurum Kelabit Sarawak president Datuk Isaac Lugun was on hand to greet the guests.