Scene at the GT Bank Food and Drinks Fair

Children trying their hands at baking

Scene at the GT Bank Food and Drinks Fair

Vanessa Obioha and Ikenna Bede

Just like it did last year, Guaranty Trust Bank plc took guests and foodies on a magical food and drink voyage in the season two of its annual Food and Drink Fair. Still coinciding with Workers’ Day, the two-day event availed the bank an opportunity to create lasting memories for the visitors as well as an enabling platform for SMEs.

From all indications, this year’s edition was a well-thought out process with new and exciting features such as the farmer’s market, to fit the taste of the different age demographics.
The whole experience started right from the entrance. Triggering taste buds with spicy aromas, one was lured into a two-day unique mouth-watering affair. Sheltered under makeshift rafia roofings, the outdoor exhibition showcased slow cooked foods and created a Caribbean feel.
Guests took spots at the gazebo, experimenting with different foods, drink cocktails and a range of choice to pick from different grilled meat and fish hung on the rotisserie. The entire food court was a burst of family affair with families and friends taking time out to dine outdoor to pure culinary excellence, or perhaps, for the sole purpose of gorging.

Although an early downpour on the second day of the fair slightly interrupted the showcase, the deluge was however not a deterrent for the average food enthusiast. Rather, it enhanced the aura of the setting.

Moving away from the grill stations, fresh farm produce lovers and vegetarians alike swarmed the farmer’s market in an effort to stock up on their favorite vegetables and grains. The agro produce were stylishly displayed with the choicest options. Also on display were locally processed Nigerian farm produce, all, packaged to world-class export standards – a means to finally put the Nigerian food industry on the world map again.

The outdoor activities were only a preamble into the range of activities at the food fair. Adjacent to the food court was the multipurpose hall housing the dozens of retail shops used for merchandising purposes as well as the Master-classes with renowned chefs.

Returning for the second time, Raphael Duntoye was joined by seven other chefs with two speakers. They were Brian Malarkey, Nkesi Enyioha, Lerato Umah-Shaylor, Kevin Curry, Tolu Eros, Benedict Okuzu, Abiola Akanji while the speakers were renowned food bloggers Jehan Powell and Ronke Edoho.
Assisted by chef Filippo Bandini, Duntoye delivered a brisk cooking lesson with tips to curating unique recipes based on ingredients that are readily available. With a pinch of wit and open ears, he tackled questions from the audience while preparing a dish of pumpkin puree, risotto, lamb limb and dessert within a limited amount of time.

The former engineer who veered into the culinary world expressed his satisfaction and explained the motivation that drives him as a chef.

“To do this job, you have got to love it. Honestly, I love doing this job, I really do. I stumbled unto this by accident. I feel so blessed, somehow – without preaching to you guys – all my disappointments always turn out to be a blessing, I never settle for less.”
Call it a mini Disney world and you won’t be wrong. The children arena was every little child’s fantasy. Bubbles of joy emanated from the kids as they ran to climb mountains and sway on swings while others took to the mini coasters, bouncy castles and monkey bars.

The children were able to blend seamlessly into the activities without bothering about the adult stuff. Also at the exhibition, they got to explore their creative side. With little tutoring, they unleashed their unique inventions in the baking.

To heighten the experience, there were pop-up restaurants and fast food joints for all to enjoy tasty meals. Harnessing the reach of social media blended in several portions of youthful exuberance, the entire run became a social cultural recipe for youngsters who grabbed the opportunity availed to reach to the rest of the world on various social media platforms.
A true pop culture moment defined by servings of loud modern day music from high definition speakers, youths in their thousands were lured to a convention of self-expression and empowerment. With video/photo uploads, many reproduced lots of GIF-able moments to the envy of their peers. With social media involvement, the GT Bank Food and Drink Fair further expanded its audience, exposing food entrepreneurs to the rest of the world.

Impressively, the second edition of the fair recorded high attendance. Last year, there were about 90 participants spread across different food categories like confectionary, wines and beverages, packaged easy-to-use food products, consumables and fresh farm produce.
Although the number wasn’t doubled, there were over 100 participants, an indicator that the platform is gradually living up to Segun Agbaje’s dream for GT Bank: “be a dominant in the food industry.”