Here’s To The Best of The Best

What started as a simple idea to support a great cause has turned into an ultra popular culinary event that draws even the least likely of participants.

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There are plenty of honorable people out there who are always willing to help out whenever necessary. So, it goes without saying that it’s not required for food to also be present to attract community members to come together and work to improve and support their neighborhood, but let’s face it: throw in a few tasty treats and even people on the fence are willing to lend a hand.

On June 4, a very diverse collection of 24 food vendors from 13 unique countries dug through their most personal cookbooks to bring all of Dongguan an exclusive culinary exploration for the Second Dongguan International Food Festival.

There was an early concern that the event would be ruined by an unexpected—but in Dongguan, always likely—rainstorm that forced a rapid reorganization, which required all the stalls and decoration be brought inside. Call it a blessing in disguise as many festival-goers and vendors, alike, ended up quite pleased with the backup venue, calling it an intimate, but still well-sized space.

First Place: Aparna Gopal, Namrata Pahilajani, Tina Kriplani of Indian Corner

First Place: Aparna Gopal, Namrata Pahilajani, Tina Kriplani of Indian Corner

As the action began, more and more people arrived, continuing to flood in for hours. By the end of the night, organizers estimated that more than 1000 Dongguaners came out to support some great charities and fill their bellies to the brim.

Throughout the course of the evening, nearly 5000 tickets were used to purchase a wide variety of food and drink. After patrons had their fill, they were given an opportunity to vote for the best items they tried. We’re now extremely excited to honor them here!

Now the festival winners
Easily nailing 1st Place with 403 votes was Indian Corner, who simply ran away with the prize. Thanks to the work of their dedicated team, their delicious tikka wraps and samosa delights were a huge hit. Nearly all couldn’t refuse to keep coming back for more.

Second Place: Vianei Rodrigues of BB's Brazilian Restaurant

Second Place: Vianei Rodrigues of BB’s Brazilian Restaurant

“We did it last year also and won second place, but winning doesn’t really matter. We just did it for the charity benefit…we all work together to cook the meals, so it’s fun for us, especially since we often make big meals for our family parties,” said Namrata Pahilajani of Indian Corner.

Famed BB’s Brazilian Restaurant—working out of the Tangla Hotel in Dongguan—wasn’t at all a surprise 2nd Place winner (195 votes) here, given its pristine reputation all across the city. Executive chef, Vianei Rodrigues, brought high end cooking to the event and the people loved him for it.

“This year we were in our own home so it was easier. We do our food, like always, but a little bit more fun for events like this. I do believe that’s why we were able to get the number one selling honor… because of the fun side,” said Vianei.

Third Place: Vijaya Gorani and Komal Jagnani of Taste of India

Third Place: Vijaya Gorani and Komal Jagnani of Taste of India

Thankfully continuing to produce some of Dongguan’s favorite home-cooked food, Taste of India firmly grabbed hold of the 3rd Place honor (190 votes) with their raved about Palak Paneer. Over and over, people wouldn’t stop asking us where or when they can try more of their delicious food.

“The first time I heard about the event, I thought about it, but I have two kids. So, I discussed with my husband and asked him, ‘should I go there and do it, but what about the kids?’ He said, don’t worry and he’d be there to watch them. He’s one of those people that always push me,” said Vijaya Gorani of the Taste of India.

Coming together as one
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The event as a whole was a great success, but it was only because an enormous group of people, charities, chefs, hotel staff and of course, all of you, brought together endless enthusiasm and passion for the occasion.

From all the praises, complaints and suggestions, the only idea that kept coming back was why is there only one of these events per year? And you’re all right: truly, it would be great to have more than one each year. Even better would be to host the event every weekend, but soon all the restaurants of Dongguan would be out of business, as their customers would simply be starving themselves to prepare themselves for each week’s feast.

We’ll try to figure something out, but in the meantime, thanks so much to everyone who participated, including the organizers and sponsors: Treasures of Hope, HERE! Dongguan, AMBD, Tangla Hotel Dongguan and B Quarter. Stay hungry!