14 March 20174: Nepalis love their momos so much that they would perhaps not mind replacing the “N” in their country’s name with an “M”. Millions of momos are devoured in Nepal, or Mepal, on a daily basis. In particular, these exotic flavour bombs are popular among the young and outgoing. Hence, Australian Nepalis can’t live without them. After all, the Nepali diaspora is primarily made up of youths.
Momos travel to every corner of the world Nepalis immigrants call home. So, in a country where there are festivals just about everything, why should they not have a festival celebrating these little culinary wonders? And that is exactly what a creative community leader in Melbourne has done. What began on the whim of Raju Shakya is now turning into a serious food festival exceeding expectations of the organisers. “M Festival” has already found place in almost all major foodie media outlets in Melbourne.
According to Deepa Rai who is one of the organisers, there is now considerable interest in the broader community. “Momo is probably a word that is now known to more people than ever,” Ms Rai said in an email. Food writers and bloggers who did not know the existence of Nepali dumplings until yesterday are counting days to taste them in two weeks time. The M Festival has effectively brought about a momo movement of sort.
And where momos are, music can’t be far behind. Come March 26, Coburg Cycling Velodrome will come alive with momos, music and much more. Popular Nepali band Kutumba will enthrall thousands of Nepali and Non-Nepali festival-goers.
Momo Master Chef competition will be another attraction of the M Festival. According to Mr Shakya, the judging panel will be headed by Melbourne-based executive chef Andrew McConnell (The Age Good Food Guide’s three-time Chef Of The Year; owner of award winning restaurants like Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc, Golden Fields ad Builders Arms). Other judges will include Casey McDonald (Group head chef of Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc and Josh Murphy, The Age Good Food Guide, Young Chef of the Year 2012). Two young Nepali chefs will bring the exotic Nepali taste to the judging panel – Sushil Aryal who was nominated for Hot Chef of The Year in Time Out Food Awards 2016 and Suraj Pradhan (Two Tables) who himself is hosting a food festival in Sydney in near future.
Over 3700 foodies have already registered for the event and with two weeks left until the big day, the organisers are still counting.
The festival is first on two fronts – it is not only the first momo festival but also the first ever Nepali food festival on Australian soil.
The 6000-strong crowd that organisers expect to attract to the venue will also be targeted by volunteers representing a mega earthquake reconstruction project being spearheaded by Non Resident Nepali Association (NRNA). The organisation is building 500-plus homes for victims of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Once complete, the global body will transfer the ownership of the homes to victims of the disaster in Gurkha district’s Laprak Village. NRNA says it stands in need of volunteers who may be willing to travel to the remote mountain village which was razed by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25 April 2015 killing nearly nine thousand people.