Since 2014, Multiculinair offers a weekend of enjoying good beers, tasty food and great tunes. The food festival was the first of its kind in Groningen and now, three years later, Multiculinair is working together with the European Street Food Awards and also conquering Germany.
Food brings people together, as the old saying goes, and the festival is a low key way for people to get together and enjoy music performances and grab a bite to eat. For a fair price and no entry fee, visitors can discover and sample foods from all over the world, ranging from Greek and Indonesian to Surinamese and Jamaican, to name just a few.
From cooking club to festival
The idea of organizing a festival was born just before the food truck explosion in the Netherlands, with a bunch of friends who loved cooking. “Food festivals were just getting big in the US at the time and I was already toying with the idea for a while”, Bojan Aleksander, one of the organizers explains. “And right around that time, there was a contest where you could submit ideas for the Bernoulli Festival in 2014, a government subsidized local festival, aimed at strengthening community ties in the Korrewegwijk.”
“It was just a perfect fit, because a community food festival is a great way to get people out of their homes”, Bojan continues. “And what better way to bring people from different ethnic backgrounds together than through food? We won and got a government grant, so we provided the locals who wanted to help with the ingredients they needed, and because the Korrewegwijk is a very multicultural neighbourhood, we had food stands with Afghani food, Indonesian, Surinamese, you name it. It was just really cool to organize such a thing.”
They decided to organize another edition the following year and also also helped set up a similar festival in Papenburg, Germany. “Suddenly, there we like 8 different food festivals in Groningen that year and the market was getting a little saturated, to say the least”, Bojan says. “For a similar festival in Papenburg, they had trouble finding food trucks. We helped them find 12 caterers and also helped with programming DJs. So we kind of took over the organization” Bojan adds, laughing.
“But it worked out really well and last year, they asked us if we could organize the whole thing under our own name. So now, we have 8 food festivals in different cities in Germany this year and 12 next year.”
The business side & The European Street Food Awards
Multiculinair is part of The Boys Events, a catering and event organization company founded by Bojan and Boudewijn Brink, who also owns Block & Barrels. “Aside from the festivals, we also do catering, organize events and things like company or corporate parties. You need to have multiple sources of revenue, because things like the weather make you very vulnerable as a festival. If the weather sucks, people won’t show up.
“Last year was a really shitty summer for example, and if you can’t compensate for that, you’ll go under”, Bojan continues. “But if we have three good editions, we already have enough to organize the editions for the next year. And this year we’re also working with a third party for the festival bars in Germany as a sort of try-out, because the difference consumption taxes between the Netherlands and Germany is a lot of hassle and it’s a lot of weight off our shoulders.”
Something Bojan is really proud of, is working together with the European Street Food Awards to find Dutch finalists for the finals in Berlin, on September 30th and October 1st. “We were at a convention in Germany and people liked our festival philosophy. Richard Johnson, award winning culinary journalist for The Guardian and one of the organizers of the competition, contacted us about working together, which is just really awesome. That means our city is now part of a list of cities also hosting qualifying rounds, like Paris, Milan, London and Barcelona. Not Amsterdam or Rotterdam, but Groningen! How cool is that?”