The first International Food and Drinks Expo, a one-of-its-kind international expo was held at Hall 11 of Pragati Maidan Exhibition Grounds between the 2nd and 4th of December, 2009. The endeavour of UK based company, Tarsus Exhibition and Publishing Limited, was supported by many luminous of the trade and media. The main support was provided by Ministry of Food Processing Industry, Government of India. Wi-Not Beverage Solutions Pvt Ltd and Institute of Wine + Beverage Studies (IWBS) were the official wine activity and education partners. The expo featured a plethora of international organisations from Australia, Italy, USA, France, South Africa and the likes. The produce on display that was well received however is still ‘gourmet’ to the Indian palates. They might just manage to penetrate their ways to the shelves at our local supermarkets soon, fingers crossed.
The three-day expo hosted many culinary talks and forums. Wi-Not was involved in arranging guided wine tasting sessions as also the 2ndIndian sommelier championship, thereby animating the expo wine-wise. Wi-Not and IWBS also exhibited with an attractive stand displaying Pulltex accessories. Gurjit remained occupied offering his services as a sommelier to the Opera Consortium, a body representing Italian wine producers and their wines. Wi-Not conducted three tastings that received a mixed attendance of wine makers, trade, media, wine enthusiasts, chefs, students and food-lovers. Wines on tastings were sourced from the exhibitors and were randomly selected to ensure fair participation and representation. Some Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon, Californian red Muscat, Austrian Grüner Veltliner, Italian reds and Indian whites were well received.
The finale of the 2nd Indian Sommelier Championship, held on day two, was one of the main attractions of the expo. Some work was done prior to the final round when candidates were given two days of exhaustive training and were put to multiple tests. These tests included not only wine knowledge but also wine tasting exams, tasting note writing skills analyses and wine service masterclass. Participating food and beverage professionals came from the high-end hotels of Delhi namely Radisson Mahipalpur, Trident Gurgaon, Le Meridien, Aman Resorts, The Claridges, The Oberoi New Delhi and Crowne Plaza Gurgaon. The esteemed judges were Ms. Kavita Devi Faiella, Head Sommelier – Aman Resorts, Mr. Dirk Reinhardt, EAM – The Claridges, New Delhi and Mr. Angelo D’Ioia, Restaurant Manager & Sommelier – Travertino, The Oberoi, New Delhi. The final five wine servers were tested live on stage for their food and wine pairing skills, basic wine handling, wine service prowess and wine tasting quotient. After being grilled to the point of ‘well-done’ by the judges, Shubham Sharma, of Aman Resorts was declared this year’s winner. The first runner up was Rachna Gadi from The Trident, Gurgaon, and second was Gandib Raj Chhetri, of Aman Resorts. The other competitors who missed the title closely this year were Anish Jamwal of The Radisson, New Delhi, and Anshuman Sharma of The Claridges, New Delhi. The trophies were conceptualised and sponsored by Arc International who ingenuously used their ‘Chef & Sommelier’ unbreakable clearer-than-glass range of wineware. They provided the limited edition super-large “chalice” size wine glasses to double up as trophies.
As the expo came to a close, some companies were happy about the response whereas realised that a market like India, even though laden with potential may still need some work and time to penetrate with their offerings. All in all, it was a sure albeit modest success, especially for a first effort, with endearing promises for the next year.