The Toffie Food Festival and Conference, to be held at the City Hall on 3 and 4 September, attracted my attention due to its low-key marketing, odd as it is run by an (unknown) communication agency The President, and as its organisers have had no prior visibility as bloggers or ‘foodies’.  Information about the event has been scant, yet I booked immediately when I saw that Julie Powell, of the movie ‘Julie and Julia’ , is the key speaker. 

The movie ‘Julie and Julia’ ran in Cape Town in my early days of blogging, and I loved it, for its humour in presenting the trials and tribulations of blogging. Julie Powell’s blog ‘Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen’ was published as a book in 2005, and that led to the movie being made, and released in 2009.  Ms Powell has written a second book ‘Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession’, which was published two years ago.

I asked Hannerie Visser of The President why they were organising the Toffie Festival, with no credentials in the food industry.  This was her reply: Toffie is a series of conference festivals and because food is so linked to cultural heritage it allowed for an interesting conference that everyone can relate to”. Other speakers are:

*   Kobus van der Merwe, chef/owner of Oep ve Eet in Paternoster, and previous web editor of Food24 and Eat Out.

*   Eloise Alemany, ex-editor of ID magazine and now cookbook specialist, from Argentina (leading a Toffie food tour of Buenos Aires in October).

*   Dr Anna Trapido, editor of ‘Hunger for Freedom’, the book that documented Nelson Mandela’s food likes and dislikes in the different phases of his life, is organising a lunch inspired by the book, in association with Woolworths’ TASTE magazine.

*   Lin Tung-Yuan of Café GABEE, ‘multi-award winner of the Taiwan Barista Championship, who is renowned for the delicacy and finesse of his coffee and coffee-inspired dishes’

*   Renata Coetzee, winner of a 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for her book  ‘Koekemakranka: Khoi-Khoin Kultuurgoed en Kom-kuier-Kos’

*   Tammy Frazer, a perfumist (an odd link to a food conference!)

*   Wolfgang Koedel of Paulaner (a last minute addition, only announced on Twitter yesterday)

Running alongside the Conference are a number of events (oddly this programme has only just been finalised, a week before the Festival), which are free of charge, unless otherwise indicated below:

*   Spier vertical tasting

*  a SAB beer and food pairing led by Chef Pete Goffe-Wood of Kitchen Cowboys and Denis da Silva

*   a workshop by Eloise Alemany (R250)

*  a perfume workshop by Tammy Frazer (R350)

*   Tung-Yuan Lin barista workshop

The Toffie Festival, with a price tag of R 1710, also includes a Braai lunch, as well as a ‘secret home dinner’, breakfast and two Woolworths coffee vouchers.  The home dinners will be held on 3 September, and one will be allocated to dinner at the home of one of the following:

*   Cameron Munro from Superette

*   Gerhard Greyvenstein and Herman Lampen of Grey Lamp, a ‘pop-up’ supper club

*   Sumien Brink, editor of Woolworths’ TASTE magazine, and Cara Brink

*   Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy of Cakebread boutique bakery

*   Alma Viviers, managing editor of VISI magazine and Kobus van der Merwe, chef/owner of Oep ve Koep in Paternoster

*   Tina Bester of Queen of Tarts

*   Cleon and Kate Romano of Maria’s Greek Café/Restaurant

*   Philip and Lisa Key of African Relish

*   Laureen Rossouw, editor of ELLE Decoration

*   Will Hobson of fieldoffice, a sandwich-maker

*   Aletta Lintveld, food editor of Weg magazine

*   Fabio and Luan Lauro of House of Pasta

*   Brendon and Suzette Bell-Roberts of art south africa magazine.

Toffie Food Festival and Conference delegates receive a copy of Cape Town ‘MENU’, an interesting book of restaurants and recipes, and is a listing of the Toffie Festival’s ‘guide of the best meals in Cape Town’. Included, for example, is:

*   Greek and African food: recommending Maria’s, and Bebe Rose

*   Portuguese and Italian food: recommending The Villa Tavern, Giovanni’s, Pizzeria Napoletana, House of Pasta, Hildebrand Restaurant, Chop, Fork Tapa, Meloncino, and Il Cappero.

*   Asian food: recommending Hesheng Chinese Takeaway, Chef Pon’s, Yindee’s, Mr Chan Chinese Restaurant, and Takumi

*   Cakes and desserts, recommending C’est La Vie, Keenwä, Arno Arpin, Biesmiellah, Queen of Tarts, Cassis Paris, Bird’s Boutique Café (may no longer be relevant with new chef opening with new menu on 1 September), Cakebread, Giovanni’s, Willoughby’s, fieldoffice, Lindt Chocolate Studio, San Julian, and Il Cappero.

Worrying is the low key marketing of the event, which is not yet sold out, and that speakers are still being added to the programme.  The printed programme delivered on Friday looks different to the one on the website, and some international speakers seem to have fallen off the programme. There appears to be no theme to the Conference, and it looks like a randomly thrown together collection of speakers.  Surprising is that no local foodies are on the programme, be they food bloggers or journalists.

POSTCRIPT: The Toffie Food Festival was all about over-promise and under-delivery.  Read our report.

Toffie Food Festival and Conference, City Hall, 3 – 4 September. www.toffie.co.za

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage