Since it first started with 57 restaurants in 2003, TourismVancouver's Dine Out™Vancouver Festival has grown into a city-wide ode to Vancouver - not justits eateries, but also its neighbourhoods, landmarks and local chefs. In fact,the festival's food-focused events have become just as popular as three-coursemeals, and every year local food personalities, chefs and restaurateurs up theante by producing ever-more inventive experiences with a creativity that'spositively mind-blowing. So what exactly does it take to fashion a Dine Out event? We sat down with MijunePak, local culinary expert and mastermind behind popular blog Follow Me Foodie,to get the dirty details on how she planned, executed and emceed one of Dine Out's most well received experiences.
Howdid you become involved with Six Course Discourse? LucasPavan, the festival's coordinator, approached me with the idea and I was reallyexcited. Right away, I knew which speakers I wanted - but I was also nervous,because I didn't know what they would say.
Howdid you decide on the final list of speakers? Ifocused on people who I know are passionate about food, the culinary godfatherswho have helped to shape Vancouver's cuisine. I wanted to get them all in thesame room and unleash that energy and passion.
Whatwas the initial reaction when you started reaching out to chefs? I'moverwhelmed by how many people wanted to take part. Weeks before the festival, theevent was already being tweeted and re-tweeted, and I got floods of emails frombakeries, coffee roasters, restaurants... The quality of speakers who wanted tobe involved says a lot about Dine Out andTourism Vancouver.
Werethe chefs given a speaking topic? I gave the speakers ageneral itinerary but they chose their own topics. It was so important for themto be excited and have a strong stance. I wanted each chef's two-minute speechto be raw, and even controversial. Thepoint was to start a discussion and get people talking about food.
Didyou learn anything new or surprising about Vancouver's culinary scene whilecoordinating Six Course Discourse? I was surprised by how seamlesslyeverything came together. The Wine Institute of British Columbia wasparticularly supportive in sponsoring the event and gifting a wine glass toeveryone who attended. But the community support really blew me away: therestaurants, chefs and wineries all seemed to know each other, and if Imentioned someone who was taking part so many of them would say, "I'll walk onwater for this person" or "Whatever the chef needs, I'll do it."
Afterall that planning, how do you think it went? I almost have topinch myself. Did that really happen? My goal was to provide the highestquality event, because I wanted the attendees to have a good time and I alsohave so much respect for the chef speakers, restaurants and wineries that tookpart. I may have planned the event, but everyone who participated brought it tolife - and the feedback has been nothing but positive. Next year's Six CourseDiscourse will be hard to top, but I'm already excited for the challenge!