Studying the methods of making Nepali food while giving the world a taste of Nepali food, and helping to promote food tourism through documentation and promotions, Chalise is a food ambassador who brings Nepali dishes to the international level. –Intro}
As soon as Nepali food is mentioned, many of us think of it as ‘Pulses and vegetables. Are just pulses, Gundruk, and dhindo the only characteristics of our food? No. There are more than 126 ethnic groups in our country. They have their own dishes. All these native foods are the identity of Nepalese. It is a challenging task to bring food that is limited in the village to the menu of the restaurant. But here’s is a person committed to this challenging journey, Corporate Chef Kumar Chalise. He made Nepali food taste to the world. He has been studying the cooking methods, and documenting the methods of food preparation along with its dissemination. Due to these reasons, Chalise is a food ambassador who brings Nepali dishes to the international level.
Apart from being a skilled chef, Chalise is also a proficient trainer. Sometimes he gets busy with hotel management training and sometimes with homestay training. He keeps swinging towards the village and mountains. He has brought the food of mountains and plains in one menu. He has his own list of over 450 Nepali endemic dishes. He is traveling around the world because of his cooking skills. He is striving around the clock to expand the identity of Nepali original dishes in the national and international tourism market.
The introduction of Chalise, who has been advocating for the promotion of Nepali food and food quality in the market of national and international food lovers like Australia, Malaysia, Switzerland, German, China, Macau, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Queue, France Japan, London, Myanmar, Korea, Spain, Russia, India, Pakistan, Dubai is not just limited to this. He has also been the head chef for JambuDeep Banquet Chain, Gate College, Royal Singi Hotel, and Bajeko Sekuwa. Currently, he is involved with Chicken Station, Nepal as a corporate chef where he is preparing food and recipes for 45 chain restaurants with the goal of making Chicken Station a famous restaurant in Nepal. In addition to this, he also has experience of working as a consultant in various national food companies like Belli Momo/Cafferina, Civil Mall Food Court, Baje’s Venture, Marco Polo Hotel, Mojo Boutique Hotel, Premier Hotel, Times Square Food Court, City Center Food Court and Pujan Hotel. Therefore, it is no exaggeration that Kumar Chalise is a great personality and champion of Nepali raithane flavor.
Chalise, who started his culinary journey as a trainee in a hotel in Kathmandu in 1998, began his journey as a chef at Grand Move Hotel in Dubai and K-Port Inn in Dubai. In the following days, he got himself indulged in the task of gathering positive feedback by spreading Nepali dishes among the food connoisseurs of the world. In 2013, his Nepali food stall sold the most food at the Macau Festival in which 32 countries participated, for which he received the best chef performance award. He was featured in the pages of the newspaper for feeding Momo and Chatamari to about 2000 people at the Churkhur-Passug festival in Switzerland in 2014. Similarly, he opened ‘A one-day pop-up restaurant at Sindu Food Festival in 2016. Due to which, in 2017, the Swiss Hotel Association invited him to Thun, Switzerland to run a Nepali food pop-up restaurant. With the help of Gate College, he was able to leave his influence there as well. Moreover, he has also been involved in charity works like feeding 10,000 people on a trip to Myanmar organized by World Chef Association, and World Chef Without Borders and providing training to women from marginalized communities to prepare different types of foods. He has also been awarded as First Cosmopolitan and Corporate Chef in 2018 and 2020.
Chalise is a trainer who teach food hygiene in colleges and institutions in various hotels and restaurants across the country. He is also a certified evaluator for staff training and skill evaluation in various restaurants and hotels rated by CTEVT. From 2016 to 2019, Chalice was also a member of the Executive Board of the Chef Association Nepal. He participated as National Coordinator in the National Skill Competition in Kukuri conducted by the Government of Nepal with the support of NSTB and the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) in 2019. Besides, he has been acting as a judge in several cooking competitions for years. Chalise has been playing leadership roles in culinary arts training kitchen setup training and in developing new food recipes.
Currently, Chalise is in the process of developing a curriculum on food production for the Council for Technical and Vocational Education (CTEVT). Chalise has taught food production to BHM students in Gate College and Global College whereas he is currently teaching at Apollo International College in Kathmandu. He has been a guest lecturer on food production in various colleges and institutions in the past years.
He has been involved in the teaching profession for more than 10 years utilizing his knowledge of the world culinary market as a result of his experience and self-discoveries. He had published food books like the Hundred Recipe Guidebook, Steps of Culinary Arts, Food Hygiene, and Pork Culinary. The book Steps of Culinary Arts has been approved by the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) as a reference book for the course. This book has been approved by various colleges for teaching hotel management students.
A culinary expert who is gathering positive feedback by serving Nepali dishes among the world’s food connoisseurs Kumar Chalise with tour news for the Raju Jhallu Prasad talked about ‘Nepal’s food tourism.’ The Summary of the conversation is presented here:
Food and tourism are intertwined. Tourism in any country is not only about natural beauty or cultural heritage. It is also directly related to the lifestyle, clothing, and local cuisines of that country. It’s a reality that tourists don’t go without eating. Understanding this fact Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Italy, France, and India are attracting tourists with their native dishes. Along with the natural, cultural, and linguistic diversity, Nepal also has diversity in food as there are more than 126 ethnicities with their own traditional dishes. If you visit the home of the Kiranti community you will get a new taste of ‘Wachippa’. If you go as a visitor to the Sherpa community living in the high mountain region you get to taste ‘Thenduk’. You will be welcomed by pork dish in Dharan and ‘bombison’ in Ilam. Raute has its own flavor and Chepang has their own recipe. Dishes from wealthy families and the 84 dishes eaten by the Newar community throughout the year have a distinctive feature.
The number of tourists traveling for delicious food is increasing in the world. Countries like Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Paraguay, Italy, Thailand, Japan, and Spain are supporting the country’s economy through food tourism. Mustang’s thakali food, the fish dish of Maleku, and marfa of Pokhara and various cuisines across the country have the potential to gain domestic/foreign platforms. Through this, there can be various dimensions of economic development. Wines made from Nepalese apple, millet, and ginger are no less than the wines of Paris and Portugal. The taste of Helambu apple and potatoes from Jiri makes you forget the taste of Italian pizza. Which tourist would not be happy with the Chukouni of Palpa and the Newari food of Kathmandu? There is no question that the tourists will not be happy when they give a warm welcome and farewell with the juju dhau of Bhaktapur mixed with the banana of Itahari and the chiura of Janakpur. There is so much diversity in Nepali food according to the geographical structure. This is not a small point.
But unfortunately, the cuisines of Nepal have not been directly linked with tourism. It is not decided what to feed the guests coming to Nepal, as it is decided where to go and which places to visit. We are feeding whatever we find at the places or the hotel is feeding us according to our wishes. It’s a bitter truth that tourists are not served typical Nepali dishes like pakku, thali, chukauni, samayabaji, bandel tareko, sekuwa, choila, karesabari, khalpi, sukuti, sel roti, kwati, chauko ras, gundruk jhol, tama jhol, kodo jhol, pidalu jhol, gwarcha, bhutuwa, khir, dahi chiura in their tourist destinations.
It’s not that one should go to Dharan to taste kalo bangur or go to Palpa to try Chukauni. There seems poor coordination on this matter as well. Another unusual fact is that when foreign guests visit Nepal they have been feeding on pizza, burgers, and pasta in which they have no interest at all. We are acting as if there are no dishes in Nepali except rice, dal, vegetables, and thakali which is not true. We have not been able to include Nepali native dishes as main course, appetizer, and a dessert in the menu. Millions of foreigners come to Nepal every year. If those foreigners could taste Nepali food, they would tell their friends and relatives about the taste of Nepal. ‘Mouth to mouth’ publicity and promotion of Nepali food is possible.
Nepali food is special
Our food is diverse with little use of spices. We make and serve it when fresh. Additionally, all the nutrients are available in our food. Nepali dishes are prepared and served very differently from other dishes in the world, which has proved to be new for European food connoisseurs. This is attractive to tourists. Different varieties of food can be prepared from millet, wheat, fruits, and veggies produced in Nepal. We also have a stock of various spiced food items. Marsi Rice, Himalayan Lentils, Fish soup, Greens of Karesabari, Timur with chicken ledo, cucumber pickle, a potato dish, and Nepali salad dishes are enough to entice them. The country is full of such raithane flavors in search. Every village has its own unique recipe. Even if only one food from each village is promoted, those places can become tourist destinations. Nepali food can prove to be a boon for local tourism. It has become essential to understand traditional food with its own distinct identity not just as food cooked in poor man’s kitchen.
The promotion of Nepali food is linked to nationalism
It is certain that the next door of Nepal’s tourism potential would be open through food tourism like in Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Paraguay, Italy, Thailand, Japan, Spain and other countries. Since the promotion of Nepali food is also connected with nationalism, there is no doubt that if the state pays attention to this, the development and expansion of rural tourism and the establishment of Nepali food culture and its identity at the international level could be established. I believe that in the next 5 to 10 years you will find a Nepali restaurant in every city of the world. In the Mithila region, guests are greeted with ‘matka chiya’ as a welcome drink and bid adieu with ‘paan’. There are several such examples.
There is a fear that the Nepali Raithane dish will not be handed over.
Nepal is not able to point out the possibilities of food tourism. We are still showing disbelief and disdain for our raithane taste. Understanding our social psychology, modern capitalists are interfering in the food culture of Nepalese people. Consequently, foreign dishes are replacing Nepali dishes in our kitchen. Hotels and restaurants are also occupied by foreign dishes. As a result, our foods are slowly disappearing; we need to be aware of this. While European pizza burgers or Indian cuisines are entering the Nepalese kitchens, it is unwise for our raithane dishes to be expelled from our own kitchens. It is even sadder that there are no researches, promotions and handing over of the Nepali raithane dishes. We should not forget the fact that food defines our identity. If we lose our food culture, our identity would also be lost gradually.
As we talk about the mountains, hills, and the plains, similarly, it is high time to identify the food of that region. By making every place of Nepal known by the name of food, investment can be increased in the agriculture sector along with tourism. My preliminary study and my experiences with the food of various castes and communities in different parts of Nepal show that such Nepali food has a good chance of success in the world market. Recently there has been a debate about Nepali food by people like BBC chef Santosh Shah. Foreigners have acquired a lot of information about Nepali food through these debates.These individual efforts are leaving a distinct mark in the international world of culinary arts and hospitality. We just have to make some effort. Then Nepal would be known as ‘Not just the country of Mount Everest or Lumbini but also the country of pulses of Gundruk and Kathar’ to the world.
Unlocking Nepal’s Culinary Potential: The Call for a Food Tourism Strategy
Nepal has the capacity to welcome the food connoisseurs of the world. For this, effective food tourism guidance is needed. The government should reflect on the urgent need for a food tourism strategy. The government should especially prioritize food tourism. We can conduct the mentioned activities to serve the food of Nepal and its stories to the food lovers of the world:
- Currently, 90 percent of non-resident Nepalis in 80 different countries are involved in the hotel business. Although the name of the restaurant is Nepali, there are an abundance of Indian dishes like naan, tikka, and tandoori. Nepal Tourism Board, Chef Association of Nepal, Nyatham, PATA, Ministry of Tourism, Embassy of Nepal, HAN, etc. must inspire to put original dishes on the menu of various restaurants around the world.
- The nation should play a role in uniting the chefs scattered in the country and abroad. The government should discuss the possibilities of food tourism with the chef community by bringing the chefs of the leading hotels of Nepal together as a network. Food producers to food traders should come forward as key participants in the discussion. Local entrepreneurs should also be included in this discourse.
- Food can connect geography and culture. It should connect as well. Therefore, variety is needed in the menu. A chef or a hotel/restaurant is not just about cooking trendy dishes, new dishes should also be created. Compulsory putting raithane dishes in your menu can be the first step in this direction. Even the ash gourd and squash should have an important place in the menu book.
- Foreign tongue is wagging while tasting raithane dishes. They still need to get used to our foods. For that, the traditional way of serving food should be changed. A chef is a artist. How to make the same food different is the chef’s art. How to make the food more presentable is also up to the chef. Hotel and restaurant owners and chefs must be passionate about the dishes. They should be able to explain its importance to their customers.
- If Nepali Raithane food gets tasted by domestic and foreign ambassadors and civil servants and feedback is collected on the taste of the food, it creates positive publicity. The government should create an environment of easy availability of materials for making Nepali food. Government priorities over foods and chefs will foster the promotion of Nepali food.
- The food that saves human life, can even lead to death. Thus, along with the government, every person in the cycle of food production, distribution, and business should be sensitive regarding food security. It is necessary to raise awareness about the five basic elements of food security, personal hygiene before preparing and eating food, pre-cleaning in food preparation, cleanliness of the kitchen, and awareness raising on the production and shelf life of packaged foods.
- We are not introduced to our mother’s hands. We are learning the taste of Nepali raithane dishes from our grandmothers. And the pleasant side is now both men and women are involved in this profession . This is the right time for everyone to become a food tourism entrepreneur. We ought to participate in the pious work of preserving and promoting Nepali food through various means. America was made by Americans, and I believe, Nepal will be made through us Nepalis.
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