Karen Anand brings to Bangalore a jamboree of food, music, wine, grills and a Sunday on manicured lawns

When someone like gourmet goddess Karen Anand hosts a “farmers’ market”, ears are all perked up and anticipation high. What it promises to be, though, is a Sunday experience with wine and cheese, chocolates, grills and eats on the lawns, live music, restaurants with live counters, lots of food to buy and take home, and then, some more. More a food festival of sorts! Not for the locavore.

“My concept is more ‘from farm to table’ where we cut out the middle guys. It’s for people who make things themselves, probably at home, and whose products are not available at outlets. Of course, it’s more premium and less organic,” says celebrity chef and author Karen Anand over phone from Pune, in a run up to the event, to be held at Hotel Royal Orchid in Bangalore on March 2.

So it’s not really a farmer’s market then where you get fresh produce from local farmers? It’s more a gourmet market? “If you use the word gourmet, it puts people off. They think it will be expensive and imported,” she argues. “We do have a few fresh vegetables too. We started off in Pune having a lot more farmers. But there were logistical problems. They don’t have the wherewithal to sell their wares. And ‘local’ does not mean from just around the corner. It could be a couple of hundred kilometres. For instance in farmers’ markets in Venice, you get spices from Morocco. You need to understand that people want different things. So we have foods from other cities to give people of Bangalore a different flavour.”

On offer will be chocolates, ice creams, organic honeys, desserts, vegan cheese, pickled vegetables, herbal teas, wheatgrass, olive oil, soya, body care products, baked goodies, meats, sauces, preserves — from Mumbai, Pune, Tamil Nadu. There is a kids cooking workshop, a barbecue where people can cook their own food to eat. Six wineries are participating and there will be nearly 40 stalls, including several restaurants, patisseries, and creperies too.

Some of the participants from in and around Bangalore include Safe Harvest Private Limited that brings food products grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, Do Bandar that creates natural soaps scrubs and perfumes inspired by traditional Indian recipes. Taantra Organic Baking will bring its no maida/no sugar/vegan/gluten-free/eggless/ baked goodies. Millie’s Vegan Cheese will showcase natural vegan nut cheese which is plant-based. First Agro brings zero pesticide vegetables and fruits which are non-GMO. 5. Neo Foods Pvt Ltd will have jars of pickled vegetables, processed in their Bangalore plant, sourced from their own contract farmers — gherkins, cucumbers, jalapenos, paprika, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and more are bottled. Tumahara , a subset of the Village Economy brand that was created specifically for Tumkur, will bring ragi health malt, ragi hurihittu, ragi baby food and virgin coconut oil. Vaathsalya will also have a whole range of ragi products, while Buffalo Back that works with marginal farmers, co-operatives, farmer groups and self help groups will bring organic food and household products. Pig Out will have a Coorgi food counter.

Then again, the location, a five-star hotel rather than a public space for a farmers’ market seems odd. “We initially started off in Pune in a five-starrer because I wanted wineries to participate. But you must remember that we do live in India and it’s difficult to control crowds in a public space. And I wanted it to be a family day out. If I held it in a place like Cubbon Park, security would be an issue, as would getting licences. This is an outdoor fair and we get the kind of people we want — who’ll come in for the experience,” states Karen, almost matter-of-factly. She’s held 10 such markets in Pune, Mumbai and Delhi so far.

The Bangalore Farmers’ Market will be held on March 2 at Hotel Royal Orchid, Old Airport Road, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.