11 May 2018

Nigeria: Food and Drink Fiesta

analysis

The just third edition of GTBank Food and Drink Fair was another icing on the cake. Sunday Ehigiator who was there, reports

The three days long event which also could pass as the biggest food feast ever organised in Nigeria; if not the world, had over hundreds of thousands from different parts of the world and within Lagos State in attendance, and left them in the hospitality of sumptuous, meager, rich, delicious, and assorted foods and drinks of different cultures and societies all over the world, as prepared by both local and international Master Chefs, with an effect of creating the feeling of 'a day I will never forget' in the hearts of all attendees.

This year's edition of GTBank Food and Drink Fair successfully brought together small businesses in Nigeria's food sector, more than a dozen internationally renowned chefs and food experts and thousands of food lovers to create the biggest food experience in Africa.

The event which engaged over 170 Chefs kicked started on a cool Sunday evening with thousands of participants flocking in and out the premises with already purchased goods, as the staff and top managers of GTBank could be seen in a simple dressed down outfits, socialising with participants.

The enticing delicacies, quality products showcased at the event ground by the Chefs, edible products, wide landmark, well decorated and beautified venue, tantalising showcasing of assorted meat, fish and chicken barbeque by different Chefs, freshly made natural fruit-juice, assorted wines, serene environment, Mobile Automated Teller Machines on standby, the well-organised Chef's Stand, Children play arena, live-bubbling musicals and awesome radio commentary were the first point of attraction on entering the event venue on the first day of the event. One cannot over-flog the quality and affordability of the assorted drinks and different categories of foods sold at the events. There were likewise drinks such as Watermelon Palm Wine Punch, Lagos Mule, Frozen Zobo Lime Margarita and many others. Street foods such as Boli and Fish, Garden Egg and Groundnut Pasta, Garri and Groundnut with Chilled water, Kilishi, just to mention a few.

The aesthetic decoration of the occasion was likewise a thing to reckon with; especially the GTBank Food and Drink Customised selfie wall, as franchised and freelance photographers also had their pay day; thanks to the GTBank. The event on the first day also featured Masterclasses from five different tutors namely; Chef Imoteda, who lectured on 'The Art of Plating' between 12:30p.m. to 1:30p.m.; Lorraine Pascale, lectured on 'Making the Perfect Deserts' from 2:00p.m. to 3:00p.m.; Sunny Anderson, delivered the topic 'Home Cooking Made Easy' by 3:30p.m. to 4:30p.m.; Scott Winston, lectured on 'Support and Advice for Small Food Business' from 5:00p.m. to 6:00p.m. and Edd Kimber who handled 'Pastry and Sweet Things' by 6:30p.m. to 7:30p.m. At this juncture, it is appropriate have a little profiling of some of the world's known international Chefs present at the occasion, most of whom taught at the Masterclasses.

First, is the Food Network Star Chef Sunny Anderson; known for hosting popular shows such as; 'The Kitchen,' 'Cooking for Real' and 'How'd That Get On My Plate,' and renowned for a cooking style that combines classic comfort foods along with unique flavours inspired by her many travels. She is the author of The New York Times bestseller Sunny's Kitchen: Easy Food for Real Life.

Second, is Chef Elizabeth Solaru; the founder of Elizabeth's Cake Emporium, which is regarded as one of the best wedding cake companies in the world. Recently named as one of the world's 'Masterful 100', her creations have been featured in numerous international publications including Wedluxe, Strictly Weddings and The Telegraph, amongst several others.

Elizabeth's Cake Emporium creates beautifully handcrafted cakes that are adorned with the most realistic edible jewelry, sugar flowers, lace, pearls, and gems. She regularly features on BBC and Sky TV and is the only three-time winner of The Great Cake Bake, a show which features the best wedding cake makers in the UK.

Third, is Chef Lorraine Pascale; British Chef, bestselling author, and TV personality. Before she became one of the biggest names in UK food shows, Lorraine was the first Black British fashion model to appear on the cover of American Elle. Being there and done that, she decided to follow her real passion-cookery-and enrolled for Leith's Diploma of food and wine course. She later graduated with a first class honours degree in Culinary Arts Management at London's University of West London. Lorraine's mastery of baking has earned her international appeal and accolades.

She has been a judge on the UK version of My Kitchen Rules, Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship in the U.S. and in March 2015, co-hosted one of the UK's biggest TV programmes, The Nation's Favourite Food. She also runs a successful blog where she shares her recipes for baking as well as tips for those wishing to embark on a journey to a healthy lifestyle.

Fourth, is a Food Business Consultant, Scott Winston; With over 20 years' experience in the Luxury Food Retail Industry, Scott is the founder of Scott Winston Fine Food Consulting, which is a key member of the buying and retail teams at leading retail brands such as Harvey Nichols, Harrods, and Selfridges.

Passionate about food and food business, Scott Winston started his career in fine food retail at Harvey Nichols Foodhall and rose quickly through the retail operations and purchasing ranks to reach the level of buyer. He later joined the prestigious department store Harrods where he worked in different buyer roles and played a key role in organising and managing Harrods restaurant food buying across the 20 own-bought restaurants.

Scott also works as a Judge Arbitrator for the Great Taste Awards, one of the world's largest and most trusted food and drink awards, which is organized by the Guild of Fine Foods.

Lastly, is the first winner of the Great British Bake Off and TV presenter, Chef Edd Kimber, who took his enthusiastic audience on making pastries and sweet things.

Speaking with THISDAY Funmilayo Oloni, a participant of the masterclass session said "it gives me great pleasure to be here. I have always wanted to improve on my cooking abilities and I am glad that it wasn't a waste of time. I missed coming to last year's event because I was out of the country. But I stayed through for this event because of the fact that I learnt Scott would be there. And I am glad I did."

Another participant, Enoch Adewunmi said "the truth is that, you would think you know all until you come here and rub minds with great Chefs like Pascale, Edd Kimber and the likes. Those guys are top-notch. They have brought so much creativity to the food business that it deserves an accolade. Thumbs up to GTBank; the best bank in the whole world for putting all these together."

Commenting generally on her experience about the event, Owen Jennifer said "I feel so good to be here, I am so happy, this is fun mixed with good food. It's fun all the way. The musical jams are so compelling, you can't but shake your waist, the foods and drinks are so delicious, I feel like eating of all available. There is this craving I can't control, I can't even mention all what I have eaten and bought here today. See my stomach, I am so filled but I want more. I love GTBank, they deserve all the accolades."

Elegbede Akin said, "ask me the best bank in Nigeria and the world; I will tell you GTBank, ask me the best innovator in the world; I will tell you GTBank, ask me the best cook in the world; I will tell you GTBank. Just give them everything; they deserve much more for pulling these together for us. Who doesn't like food? Not to say good food and drinks and other foodstuffs available here, go GT."

Aside the masterclasses, the wide margin of profits recorded by the vendors on the first day, was also a high point of the day, as most of them kept going out of stocks and restocking within the shortest possible intervals. One of the vendors who spoke anonymously with THISDAY, when asked how the sales has been; said, "we bless God, the sales are massive. I am glad to be here. In fact, we didn't expect to sell as much as we have sold already. We have restocked for more than three times, and we might likely restock more. The demands are really high. We really appreciate GTBank for giving us this platform. It is our prayer that they keep growing from grace to grace and remain the best amongst others." Asked how long she has been partnering with GTBank on such occasions she said "funny enough, this is the first time we are collaborating with them. I am glad they gave us this opportunity, we would be glad to be here longer than this even in the next coming years by God's grace."

Also worthy of note is the overwhelming presence of physically challenged people at the event. They weren't in anyway left out of the fun filled event, especially not when GTBank had measures such as flat stairways into the indoor event ground put in place to allow easy access by all.

Commenting on the event, Mr. Segun Agbaje, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, said: "Alongside the unparalleled culinary experience, the GTBank Food and Drink Fair showcases the richness of Africa's food culture and the vibrancy of the small businesses involved in the industry. This year, we have added an extra day to the fair, thereby increasing the opportunities for small businesses to connect to more consumers as well as businesses.

"Apart from the amazing experiences that we create for our tens of thousands of guests, it is the personal testimonials that we receive from small businesses that speak to the true value of the GTBank Food and Drink Fair. Behind these small businesses are hard-working fathers, enterprising mothers and incredibly passionate youths, and when they share their remarkable stories of record sales at the fair, we see not just the impact of our efforts at promoting enterprise but the immense capacity of our organisation as a platform for enriching lives."

The second day wasn't anything short of the high expectations from participants. It was specially scheduled to host school children from different schools in Lagos, who appeared in company of their teachers and caretakers to take part in the culinary classes. As they arrived, they were led into the children's play area were they engaged themselves in some recreational activities and games which could widen their horizon. It was a very lively atmosphere just as the first day as the kids had ample time to have fun and taste familiar and new foods and drinks. There were sophisticated toys such as bouncing castle, the merry-go-round, the makeshift hospital and supermarket which they all had different turns to play with and likewise learn. They were taken through lessons on how to use the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) for withdrawals, how to bargain and identify quality products in the market places, how to prepare specific foods, and so on. The reasons for these lessons as informed by THISDAY, was to teach them as the future generations; all the good values and qualities they need to learn before they grow older. They were likewise taken to the masterclass hall where, Chef Muneera Tahir simply addressed as Chef Muse, took them on how to make sandwiches, pancakes and how to bake chocolate cookies.

The third day of the event being a public holiday recorded an upsurge in attendance. Foodies and fun-seekers that couldn't make it on the first two days due to work and other important engagements added up to the thousands of loyal attendees. A lot of parents likewise brought their kids to the event to have fun to the fullest. The kids were also engaged in a master-class where Chef Crofie practically taught them how to bake cupcakes. They were so excited and could not hide their joy. There was so much fun, jubilation and celebration in the air, like that which you would rarely see even on Christmas day. It was equally colourful as the first two days but with more vibrancy and enthusiasm being the grand finale of the three days events. It was a time for all the vendors to count their gains with minor reckoning to losses and a time for all attendees to embrace and enjoy the platform to its fullest all the fun as they may not see anything close to it till another 365 days. To show appreciation to the customers for their patronage most of the vendors provided a free extra rider in terms of small chops, cakes, and packed gift items to compliment any purchase. GTBank on its own end since the first day had made available free Wi-Fi to all in attendance to support their social media life all through the period of being at the event.

The atmosphere was indeed hygienic and security guaranteed all through the three days with the heavy presence and efforts of different security personnel's felt all around the venue, as equally accompanied by the commendable and efficient efforts of environmental sanitation officers who did all in their capacity to create, maintain and sustain the serenity and cleanliness of the environment.

From the mouth-watering delicacies, musicals, to the allure of savory wine tastings, the 2018 GTBank Food and Drink Fair delivered an experience that will certainly remain unmatched for the entire year.

The free for all events provided small businesses with a free and vibrant platform to connect with a wider segment of their target markets as well as experts in their business fields. GTBank has consistently played a leading role in Africa's banking industry.

The GTBank brand is regarded by industry watchers as one of the best run financial institutions across its subsidiary countries and serves as a role model within the financial service industry due to its press for world class corporate governance standards, excellent service quality and innovation.

The bank is also going beyond the traditional understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as corporate philanthropy by intervening in key economic sectors to strengthen small businesses through non-profit consumer focused fairs and capacity building initiatives that serves to boost their expertise, exposure and business growth.

The GTBank Food and Drink Fiesta indeed celebrated Nigeria's vibrant food culture whilst promoting enterprise in the small business sector of the food industry.

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