The SteppinOut Food Festival – Once only a random idea thrown out during our many idea-generating, conference-room-shouting sessions during the month of November.
“Let’s bring startups and established restaurants together to a famous venue”. From the moment we first heard the idea, we knew that we could possibly have a winner on our hands.
Getting the logistics put together though was a completely different scenario. With a split vote when it came to the venue and the restaurants we should target as well as the madness that was handling New Year’s Eve, we weren’t quite ready for the barrage of work and responsibility that comes with hosting, coordinating & organizing a food festival for what we thought was for 1,500+ people. The idea was put on hold after internal talks between the team.
Nobody ever said that the idea wasn’t a great one; we just had to make sure we did it right. Cut to the post New Year relaxation period – The Food Festival was the only thing we ever spoke about. “Should we serve just beers or have a full bar ?”, “Should we have a DJ or stick to ambient background music?”. Ideas were being thrown around – on vendors, entertainment, sponsors. Who, what, where, why and how – we made sure we played Devil’s Advocate to every aspect. Ever heard of the term constructive chaos? That would probably be very apt for how the initial days went.
A plan began to formulate through the constant scribbling on the whiteboard. The venue was chosen – Bangalore’s most iconic symbol of luxury, The Collection @ UB city. A place that defines the Bangalore food and entertainment industry, a place that anyone would instantly recognize and a place the vendors would be glad to come set up.
Now came the list of people we wanted to associate with in terms of vendors. Food is a very subjective topic of contention and people (each one of us included) like to stick by their experiences. We started off with a list of about 100 restaurants and slowly but surely whittled it down to 30. The only point here that we all agreed with was that we need to have an even spread of cuisine. None or minimal repetitions.
Smooth sailing is an overrated term and we found that out when it came to sourcing our vendors and handling production at the venue. This is after all an intensely competitive industry and we had to ensure that all of our vendors had equal opportunity to showcase their signature cuisine. All that was heard around the office for days was “Slot No. X for Restaurant Y. Oh no wait. Slot X for Restaurant Z. But that’s already been given to someone else” After multiple iterations to the stall layouts and the overall venue production design, we were finally at the point where all our vendors had confirmed and the festival was beginning to take shape.
Bangalore is spoilt by choice around the year when it comes to food festivals nowadays. This was the challenge presented to our marketing team. How is the SteppinOut Food Festival going to be the best one there is? How do we do this that people pick the food festival over Major Lazer (Yes, we took on the Major Lazer concert & M.G Road’s Open Street as competition. Yes, we are brave like that)
The marketing process started out with an absolutely mouthwatering video that we shot in the kitchen of our Venue Partner for the Food Festival – Shiro. When the team is literally drooling into their laps while watching raw footage, you know that you’ve done a damn good job.
Massive shout out to our designer Anchita – She handled all the creatives and the visual design for the Food Festival, and that by no means was an easy task. Coming up with a theme is one thing, but to make multiple iterations of name boards, hoarding designs, easels, tent cards and standees all within the space of 20 days is something else.
Over the course of the month, our social media just absolutely exploded. Opening your browser to 200 new likes/comments in a two hour span became commonplace. There was a tangible buzz in the city’s air when it came to the Food Festival. People were excited. We wanted to give them something different, something that hasn’t ever been done as a part of a whole day festival. Our plan? To showcase a movie in the evening. Something that people can sit down to with a full stomach and a cold drink. We conducted a poll on our page (Who knew these options would actually be of use?). We added in the Native Haat cooking masterclasses as well because who hasn’t ever watched TV and drooled at the prospect of cooking restaurant style food at home.
Let’s fast track to the day of the food fest. We arrived bright and early (7 AM on a Sunday) to UB City and were absolutely blown away by the level of the setup. A big thank you to Mr. Vincent and the entire Greenstone Entertainment Team. There is a reason you are the best at what you do.
The heat of the day and tiredness that comes with a month full of sleepless nights quickly evaporated when we noticed how many people actually came by early on a Sunday for our cooking masterclasses. Armed with umbrellas to protect themselves from the ridiculous heat about 400 people attended, enjoyed and sampled a taste of what our chefs had to provide.
The rest of the day is a crowded blur. The amount of people we had walking in as early as 11 AM was staggering. Each stall started business and the first few plates and dishes had started going out. We also had hookah going in the amphitheater. As the heat went down, the number of people arriving increased exponentially.
Recharged by a cold beer or a juice (Each to their own I guess) the team ran around through the day making sure the stalls were okay, the band was ready on time, the people were happy, housekeeping was on point and coordinating with UB City’s team.
As the sun dropped behind the towers of UB City and our band Indigenous Fakirs took the stage, we had begun to start feeling good. When you see people eating, drinking, singing along with the band and overhear comments about how good the vibes are, I think it’s only right to breathe a sigh of relief.
The remainder of the day passed with the team in high spirits. We knew we had done well when we saw every single seat taken in the amphitheater with people standing on the stairs and more pouring in every chance they got during the screening of the movie.
The highlight though of the day had to be the words of praises & compliments that we received not only from our guests but also from the stall owners. When a Shiro and a Social tell you that you’ve done a heck of a job and that they would love to be there for the next one, it takes a moment to step back and take it all in.
Let’s sum up the numbers. This is what we managed with only a 8 man army:
19,000 people (Number seem surprising? Given the chance, we would have danced on the bar when we found out), 35 stalls of the best Bangalore has to offer, 15 calls the following day from other restaurants wanting to get on board for the next one, 25 different cuisines and a day that will be remembered by our vendors and every single person who walked into UB city that day. (We also had guests from Oakwood coming down to see what was going on)
This was our SteppinOut Party (Pun completely intended) and believe us when we say, “You aint seen nothing yet”! There is a lot more to come. Stick with us and keep SteppinOut!