Going off the 'eaten' path

Going off the 'eaten' path

< Back to Articles | Topics: Spotlight | Contributors: Emily Bednarz | Published: April 20, 2022

This spring, Halifax will be welcoming back Off the Eaten Path, the city’s first Asian Food Festival. The festival is a time for local foodies to sample snacks, meals, and beverages from some of Halifax’s best Asian food restaurants. In honour of Asian Heritage Month, Off the Eaten Path is returning for a second edition in May 2022 after its inaugural event in October 2021.

The 2021 edition dished out almost 1,000 meals from 26 vendors, who represented six different countries. For 2022, the festival is divided into two parts: from May 16-22, restaurants will be offering special meals and deals for dine-in or takeout. The festival is then capped off by the Asian Culture Carnival at the Halifax Waterfront on May 28.

Off the Eaten Path is the result of a collaborative effort to bring vibrancy and diversity to the streets of Halifax. The festival is spearheaded by Project Lead Joyce Liu, who is also the Founder of Lumi Studios —a media and production company — and The Wave Projects, a not-for-profit organization focused on creating connections between people and places. Across these projects, Liu works with a dedicated team of professionals, including Mariam Fahmy, Clara Yu, and Richard Yang.

The multilingual team represents a striking combination of expertise — from food, to communications, to urban planning. This combination gets at the heart of the festival’s mission: to “activate urban spaces” through engaging events that foster a sense of belonging, especially for youth, immigrants, refugees, and newcomers in Halifax. “With an emerging cultural diversity amongst many Canadian cities, it’s become instrumental to develop inclusive practices in our communities,” says Liu. “Off the Eaten Path foresees multicultural food festivals as tool for a community engagement.”

The festival team started the planning process with a number of questions, says Liu. “We asked, what are the loopholes in our system that are delaying the growth of diverse businesses in accessing equitable opportunities amongst the business community?” Engagement, exposure, and connection came to the forefront. “We realized it was vital to these diverse businesses' success that they efficiently connect with the local business community and with customers,” says Liu.

A recent report generated by The Wave Projects outlines the impacts of the inaugural festival, in food sales and beyond. The team surveyed participating restaurants, project partners, and community members. Those surveyed indicated that the 2021 Asian Food Festival successfully engaged the community, promoted an understanding of the diversity in Asian culture, and fostered a sense of belonging for people living in Halifax from diverse backgrounds.

The festival also provided specific benefits to Asian-owned businesses in Halifax. Participating business owners reported that the festival provided them with exposure, developed their digital marketing skills, opened them to a wider audience, and offered a chance to introduce community members to their culture. “We helped build strong business bonds between Asian businesses and the city’s business associations,” says Liu. “Which inevitably builds a stronger community.”

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< Back to Articles | Topics: Spotlight

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