Unless you were trapped under a rock last year, it was pretty much impossible not to hear about that leviathan of a food event known as the World Street Food Congress. Brought to our beautiful shores care of Singaporean food ringmaster KF Seetoh and his Makansutra crew, this landmark event held in the fields of BGC brought the hungry hordes in the thousands (they predicted 5,000/day and got an average of 18,000!)—mainly because the mere mention of the word “street food” to pretty much anyone in this town causes immediate salivating and a deep hunger.
Guess what? They’re back.
So as a little gift to you reading this, here are 10 things you should know about the World Street Food Congress 2017, happening from May 31 to June 4.
1| If you were there last year and thought it was big, well, this year, it's is even bigger. Now moved to the Mall of Asia complex, think Godzilla proportions. They're expecting 100,000 people (more than five times last year's crowd) which accounts for the new venue that's 80% bigger.
Don't worry: Lots of ample parking space for those of your driving over. There are also more transportation options available for those who are going to commute.
2| There are lots of things to learn about world street food culture. For those who are so inclined, there will be a two-day dialogue and exchange of ideas at the Dialogue tent. For those who love to cook, a special treat: an outdoor food demo kitchen will be set up where you can watch guest chefs and hawkers prepare their dishes for you.
3| For you serious chef groupies, the organizers have also invited acclaimed chefs, such as Malcolm Lee of the pretty famous Peranakan-inspired restaurant Candlenut (which has a Michelin star). Check him out at the demo kitchen!
4| Whereas last year the chaos revolved around 24 stalls, this year there are a whopping 30 stalls from all around the world—from Germany to the United States to Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and beyond!
5| If you’re thinking that it’ll be pretty much the same as last year, like I did, we’re all wrong: 90% of the dishes are going to be brand spankin’ new, with a smattering of familiar favorites like last year’s blockbuster hit—Chocolate Murtabak!
6| Our flag will be raised much higher this year, spearheaded by our very own Chef Sau del Rosario. Over at the jamboree, a really interesting selection of local food, with a rare sighting of Halal grub from Davao’s Satti Tausug restaurant. Regional food, this is your time!
7| Ever the thoughtful organizers, this year’s jamboree has a little somethin’ somethin’ for everyone: live music at the performance tent by the jamboree, and even a children’s playground so you can come with the family, park the young uns and line up to buy some yums.
8| You can bet on the party atmosphere—this is, after all, a celebration of food: wash down all that street food with cold San Miguel beers from the San Miguel Beer Park.
9| There will be a prepaid P150 pass to get into the jamboree, but that can be fully redeemed for food and drinks for that day. Kids below 12 years old and under 4 feet are absolutely free.
10| You and I both know that a certain Anthony Bourdain is coming too. He’s holding a Town Hall gathering right here in Manila to push his latest project (NYC’s Bourdain Market) forward, making like a scout and scoping out the talent. Will there be a spotting of him? No one knows, really, but if you do see him—don't harass the guy and just show him some genuine Pinoy love!
Come in comfy clothes, and most definitely come hungry—this is going to be a doozy. And if you see me at the jamboree—say hi! Let’s eat!
The World Street Food Congress Jamboree is happening from May 31 to June 2 (4 p.m. to 11 p.m.); June 3 (1 p.m. to 11 p.m.); June 4 (1 p.m. to 9 p.m.).