Realizing the potential of Halal foodies at their community’s Halal Food Festival, co-founders of the popular web show Sameer’s Eats, Sameer S. Sarmast and Saad Malik, were blown away when the anticipated 1000 attendees swelled to a wave of 4000! Last August’s festival was planned with the local New Jersey Muslim Youth Community Center (www.myccnj.org), and Malik reported that most vendors even ran out of food. Mesmerized by the diverse crowd, Malik turned to his partner and said, “Dude, this is mind boggling. We need to take this on the road.”
Stoked by inspiration, Sarmast confirmed, “We saw that great Halal food brings people together no matter their race, religion, or professional background. This year we’ve decided to spread Halal food across America. We’re putting on five big events in five cities. We look forward to working with local organizations in each city to help their initiatives and more.”
The Halal Food Tour (www.halalfoodtour.com) has them partnered with Yvonne Maffei, the personable and effervescent publisher, cookbook author, and blogger of My Halal Kitchen (www.myhalalkitchen.com). The five city tour will kick off with Los Angeles on April 13th; then to New York in June, Washington DC in August, Chicago in October, and finally to Houston in December.
Besides appearances by Maffei, several other celebrities have signed on to appear at some of the venues. Mo Sabri, singer and lyricist; Preacher Moss, the thought provoking writer and founder of “Allah Made Me Funny” Muslim Comedy Tour; Aman Ali, reporter, storyteller, and co-creator of “30 Mosques in 30 Days;” and Omar Regan, who is best known for his acting and comedy talent. This creative production team is seeking many more popular Muslim personalities and businesses in each city that represent the diverse American Muslim landscape. The ticketed events are expected to bring much publicity to the nascent Halal Movement in America.
Also inspired by the huge attendance of the New Jersey festival, Irfan Rydhan, the Event Director of Jam-Productions is collaborating in partnership with Atif Qureshi of Zabihah.com ( the world’s largest guide to Halal Restaurants and Products) and Javed Ali, founder of ILLUME Media (www.illumemagazine.com) to produce “California’s First Halal Food & Eid Festival” aka “Halal Fest” (www.HalalFest.com) for August 17th in the main parking lot of NewPark Mall in Newark, CA.
The event is open to the public and is scheduled approximately 1 week after Eid ul-Fitr. Rydhan stated that their intent is to cultivate awareness of delicious Halal food, promote Muslim businesses, and express diversity and cultures in an atmosphere of fun for the whole family with children’s air jumpers, super slide, and merry-go-round. Halal Fest will feature Halal food trucks, restaurant booths, and a large bazaar with approximately 30 vendors selling a variety of clothing, jewelry, arts & crafts, books, and other novelties.
Nationally recognized Chef Jimmy Sujanto of Padi Restaurant in Berkeley, CA that features Indonesian Halal dishes, will be there to conduct a Live Cooking Demonstration. Representing a variety of cuisines, arrangements have been made for Indo-Pakistani , Middle Eastern, African-American Soul Food, and Indian-American Fusion as well as the standard food festival fare of burgers, fried chicken and pizza – all Halal of course. Surely, it should entice everyone to explore some new flavors and bridge cultural gaps to familiarize neighboring communities with Halal food from Northern California.
For the adventurous set, the multi-talented partners have signed on a live skateboarding demonstration by professional American Muslim skateboarder Jordan Richter (read his story here: http://www.illumemagazine.com/zine/articleDetail.php?Wayward-Son-The-Jordan-Richter-Story-13769), and other activities for the whole family to enjoy are in the works.
Will this be the year for Americans to really catch the wave? Don’t miss it; sign up if you are a Halal enterprise or vendor. These events are likely to be the start of something big for Americans who really love food, and who doesn’t appreciate great Halal, healthful delights that appeal?