The 2015 Namyangju Slow Life Planet (Food) Festival, which was opened on Oct. 8, 2015 and continued for 10 days until Oct. 17, is considered a sheer success with an estimated total of over 400,000 Korean and international visitors and showing them what all the different peoples of the world ate and how they enjoyed them.
The opening ceremony, which was hosted by Mayor Lee Suk-woo of Namyangju City, was attended, among other guests, by ambassadors and other senior diplomats from various countries of the world totaling some 20 countries, who included Ambassadors Albino Malungo of Angola Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Suth Dina of Cambodia, Mumba Smyth Kapumpa of Zambia, Ruben Eloy Arosemena Valdes of Panama, Khamsouay Keodalavong of Laos, Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of Bangladesh, Irineo Raul Silvero of Paraguay and Andrea Bais of Uruguay (charge d’affaires). (List of participants from SDC is at the end of this Article.)
There also were mayors and other leaders from countries with whom Namyangju City had a sisterhood relationship as well as leaders of international food-related organizations. Among them were founding Chairman Paolo Saturnini of Slow City Chairman Heather Yeatman of Public Health Association of Australia.
Speaking to the guests at the opening ceremony, Mayor Lee Suk-woo of Namyangju City said, “Today, the efforts to newly understand the value of food is spreading all over the world. While preparing and eating food, people talk about farming, turning their attention to health and environment, and thinking of love for family and relationships with others.” Then he said, “The words such as traditions, in-season, eco-friendly, no artificial additives, and locals now become the standards for good food.”
“Until now,” he asserted, “we have believed that joys of life only come from a proper and healthy meal, thus only focused on not changing or reducing the values of food while carrying ingredients from farms to our tables.” He recommended: “Much depends on ‘what do we eat?’, ‘how do we eat?’, and ‘whom do we have a meal with?’ and I would say that the pleasure from sharing food is among the best in various functions and roles of meals.” (See excerpts from his opening speech toward the end of this Article.)
Over 400,000 visitors to the Festival for the 10 days this year represent a 30% increase from the 2013 Slow Food Festival when the number of visitors totaled over 300,000. On the final day, the admission was free in memory of the successful 1st Slow Life Planet (Food) Festival and on that day alone a total of over 62,000 persons visited the Festival.
Different foods and food cultures of over 50 different countries were shown during the 10-day period, during which the star chefs of Korea’s leading five-star hotels demonstrated their cooking skills before 150 selected guests and similar demonstrations were presented by the wives of the ambassadors.
The citizens of the Namyangju City demonstrated their interest in the Festival and over 350 of them offered a volunteer service every day and a total of over 2,500 citizens presented public performances to promote the interest of the guests in the Festival.
There were celebration performances given on the stage, which included Taekwondo demonstrations by T Tigers, LED performances and a musical gala show presented by Actor Nam Kyung-joo.
Another highlight of the Festival was the ‘Angel’s Road’ which a ‘Slow Walking Course spanning a distance of 1.4 kilometers between the Donong Subway Station and the venue in Namyangju. The visitors joining this walk earned 1,400 Won and this money was donated to the needy people. The walkers experienced the pleasure of giving as well as the health benefit from the walking exercise.
Another good arrangement made by the organizers of the 2015 Namyangju Slow Life (Food) Festival was the preparation of three parking lots with a total accommodation capacity of 3,000 cars. This was in memory of the parking problems experienced during the last such festival (2013 Namyangju Slow Food Fair) due to influx of visitors. The extra parking space came mighty handy as there were three consecutive holidays beginning with the Hangul Day on Oct. 9 brining a large crowd to the Festival
of cooking by a total of 80 famed Korean chefs at the Myeongin Myeongpum-gwan (Pavilion of Masters and Masterpieces). They cooked masterpiece foods of the past, present and nature.
There also were ‘Farmers’ Market Places’ where the visitors could purchase various organic and eco-friendly agricultural products fresh from their farms.
Other attractions of the Festival were the Korean and international conferences on the theme of ‘Slow Life’ and performances presented on the open-air stage by an orchestra, rock band and choirs.
At the Good Food Pavilion, there were restaurants of eight different countries in addition to booths introducing the traditional foods of a total of 30 different countries of the world.
As in the case of the 2013 Namyangju International Slow Food Fair, there were street food booths of many different counties of the world outside the main pavilions. The prices were reasonable and the foods came in a wide variety representing dozens of different countries. They attracted a considerable number of visitors each day throughout the 10-day run of the Festival.
Highlights of the Festival were the cooking demonstrations presented by star chefs of the leading five-star hotels in Seoul and also by the VIP ladies (wives of the ambassadors) in front of 150 selected guests. The cooking demonstrations were given with the help of the popular TV personalities such as Ms. Bronwyn Mullen and popular Singer Chung Taek.
The first demonstrator was Chef de Cuisine Bernhard Butz of the Millennium Seoul Hilton who ‘rewrote’ a time-honored traditional Korean saying that is said in praise of an extremely tasty food. The Star Chef won the unprecedentedly high comment for the food he cooked at the demonstration hall of the Innovation Pavilion of the Festival on Oct. 9, 2015.
Chef Butz presented the cooking demonstration with his Assistant Korean Chef Cho Doo-hyun who helped him on the stage.
The menu on that day consisted of Marinated Abalone Salad of Chestnut & Cucumber Wild Sesame Dressing, Seafood Bouillabaisse with Saut?ed Spicy Shrimp, Tomato Confit plus Onion Tart Tatin Sauce Verte, Vacuum Slow Cooked Chicken Breast with Saut?ed Zucchini and Potato Olive Oil Mash, and Fresh Cherry Gratin with Tiramisu Cream with Vanilla Ice Cream.
After the cooking of each food, the session host (popular MC Chung Taek) and his assistants brought the dishes to about a dozen ‘connoisseurs’ chosen from the estimated 150-plus guests to sample them.
The thumbs-up signs and extolling remarks were even stronger than Mrs. Cho Kyung-jae from Chungcheongnam-do Province who “wouldn’t have noticed her husband’s dying because the food was so tasty.”
Host Chung asked Butz, “Tell the guests your secret for making such tasty food,” whereupon Butz said, “Good food materials.” Asked how one selected good materials, Butz said one way to do it was to smell them.
Following the one-and-half-hour demonstration session, all the 150-plus guests were invited to sample the food. They immediately formed a long queue.
Chef Butz of the Millennium Seoul Hilton was followed by the chefs from JW Marriott, Ritz Carlton and Grand Hilton.
From JW Marriott came Chef Vivenkananda Saha who presented representative foods of India, from Ritz Carlton came Chef Wang Byung-ho who cooked Chinese foods including Jeongabok (stir-fried seafood with abalone and scallop), and from Grand Hilton came Chef Michele Del Cero who cooked Italian food Gnocchi shrimps and leeks.
Yang Dong-hae, a Korean chef specializing in Anju (food that goes with alcoholic beverage), showed his rare skills in making Anju on Oct. 9, 2015, the second day of the opening of the Festival. He cooked a Spicy Chicken Foot dish using ‘boneless’ chicken feet, vegetables, pepper and cheese. Yang is a noted Korean chef widely known in Korea for ‘Anju Culture’ he has developed with an eye to helping the alcoholic beverage lovers protect their stomach by taking sufficient Anju when drinking strong liquor such as whiskey, vodka and, of course, soju.
Chef Yang is the director of the Korean Anju Culture Association and a part-time chef working at the Presidential Mansion of Cheong Wa Dae.
On the third day of the Namyangju Slow Life Planet (Food) Festival on Oct. 10, 2015, Star Chef Wang Byung-ho of Ritz Carlton Hotel in Seoul showcased his skills in Chinese culinary art at a Food Show (cooking demonstration) at the Innovation Pavilion. In front of a selected total of over 200 guests, Wang cooked three genuine Chinese dishes, namely Myeonbosya (Mian-bao-xia), Jeongabok (Quan-Ji-Fu) and Gganbbunggi (Gan-Peng-Ji).
Myeonbosya was a bread fried with chopped shrimps inside. Jeongabok was a stir-fried seafood with abalone and scallops. Gganbbunggi was deep-fried chopped chicken with pepper and sauce.
Guests sampling the three Chinese delicacies were excited over the wonderful taste of them as they were made by the well-known Chinese chef at Ritz Carlton (one of the leading five-star hotels in Seoul). At deluxe hotels, such foods are expensive and ordinary people can hardly afford them.
VIP cooking demonstrations by the wives of the ambassadors started on Oct. 12, the fourth day from the opening of the Festival.
On the morning of Oct. 12, Mrs. Shameem Akhter (wife of the ambassador of Bangladesh) demonstrated her culinary skills assisted by Mrs. Rabeya Sultana (wife of the first secretary) and Mrs. Tahamina Akter (wife of the second secretary). They cooked Dhakai Kacchi Biryani, representative foods of their country.
In the afternoon of the same day, Mrs. Mariana Rutz (wife of the consul general of Ecuador) presented her cooking demonstration of Sango Decamaron.
On the following day (Oct. 13), the cooking demonstration in the morning was given by Mrs. Amirahaniza (chef of Malaysia) and Mrs. Noor Azura (wife of the defense attach?) presented Roti Jala with Chicken Curry (Malaysian Crere with Chicken Curry).
In the afternoon, the cooking demonstration was given by Kenyan student representatives Ms. Pierrina Ragweni and Mercy Mwangi who cooked Githeri and Kachumbari.
On Oct. 14, Mrs. Chisanga Kapumpa (wife of the ambassador of Zambia) assisted by Mrs. Rmbewe (wife of the first secretary) and Mrs. I. Naoma (wife of the second secretary) presented Chibwabvwa, Nshima and Chicken (Zambia style).
In the afternoon of the day, the cooking demonstration was given by Sergey and Irina (both chefs) under the supervision of Mrs. Natalia Timonina (spouse of the Russian ambassador). They presented three representative Russian dishes, namely Solyanka soup, Moscow style fish and Maroon pancakes.
On Oct 15, the presentation was given three times, namely in the morning, at noon and in the afternoon. In the morning, the demonstration was given by Mrs. Dyuti Rawat (wife of the deputy chief of mission of the Embassy of India) who cooked three dishes, namely one mixed vegetables, Lentil and Naan.
At noon, the demonstration was given by Chef Michele Dal Cero from Grand Hilton as was mentioned earlier.
On the afternoon of day, Mrs. AnalLalo (wife of the ambassador of Morocco and concurrently chairperson of the Ambassadors Spouses’ Association in Seoul (ASAS). She presented three dishes of Moroccan delicacies, namely Tagine, Zaafouk and Taktouka.
On the final day of the VIP lady cooking demonstration on Oct. 16, there were two demonstrations, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning session was for a Tanzanian student representative Miss Deborah Eric who cooked Chapati.
In the afternoon, the demonstration was given by Mrs. Edit Csaba (wife of the ambassador of Hungary). She presented two dishes, namely Chicken Paprika with home-made Dumplings and Cucumber salad.
Excerpts from Mayor Lee’s opening remarks:
Today, the efforts to newly understand the value of food is spreading all over the world.
During preparing and eating food, people talk about farming, turning their attention to health and environment, and thinking of love for family and relationships with others.
The words such as traditions, in-season, eco-friendly, no artificial additives, and locals now become the standards for good food.
Until now, we have believed that joys of life only comes from a proper and healthy meal, thus only focused on not changing or reducing the values of food while carrying ingredients from farms to our tables.
‘What do we eat?’, ‘how do we eat?’, and ‘whom do we have a meal with?’
The pleasure from sharing food is among the best in various functions and roles of meals.
Sharing even a simple meal is worth more than anything in the world.
It is why we cannot hesitate to develop an eye for investigating our own meals. Food is for eating, whereas meal is for life.
Every human has a universal right to pursue happiness.
Slow Life is a tool for the value of more universal happiness.
The value of Slow Life of health, environment, and empathy is good food and mind on table.
We learn lessons about economy, society, culture, and future with harmony between consumers and producers based on the 3 agriculture-related teachings(三農) of Jeong, Yak-Yong: income security for farmers(厚農), convenient farming(便農), and farmer empowerment(上農). The value and philosophy of Slow Life have their roots in Silhak(實學, represents practical learning in Korean) of Dasan. It is our responsibility to grow a greater tree, the world of Slow Life.
The Mecca of Korean organic farming, the center of Slow Food Movement in Korea, the first slow city in Seoul Capital Area, the slow reading for better ideas, the slow walking with others for hope. The footsteps of Namyangju city for the Slow Culture are proper being the calling of the time.
Now, we are preparing the 2015 Namyangju Slow Life International Festival, ‘the meal sharing with people from around the world and festival of food and life’ inheriting the International Organic Expo in 2011 and the AsiO Gusto in 2013.
Now, Namyangju city begins to walk with others, prepare global meals for people, and share happiness enough to make everyone all over the world laugh in Slow Life.
Slow Life Planet, on Slow Life!
List of guests from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps:
Ambassador Albino Malungo of Angola (with madam), Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Suth Dina of Cambodia, Mumba Smyth Kapumpa of Zambia (with madam), Ruben Eloy Arosemena Valdes of Panama (with madam), Khamsouay Keodalavong of Laos (with madam), Md. Zulfiqur Rahman of Bangladesh (with madam), Irineo Raul Silvero of Paraguay (with madam) and Andrea Bais of Uruguay (charge d’affaires). There also were many spouses of the ambassadors who attended the opening ceremony thanks to the support and assistance given Mrs. Amal Lahlou (wife of the ambassador of Morocco and chairman of ASAS). They included Mrs. Ndeye Aissatou Faye Ndiaye (spouse of the ambassador of Senegal), Mrs. Edit Csaba (spouse of the ambassador of Hungary), Mrs. Sarah Bile (spouse of the ambassador of Cote d'Ivoire) and Mrs. Nehal Hanna (spouse of the ambassador of Egypt).