Joy of Feeding

A participant in last year’s festival serves up Zimbabwean cornmeal mash with greens and beef stew. Photo via

While she will be plenty busy opening her forthcoming restaurant Shanik in South Lake Union, Meeru Dhalwala also wants to bring her Joy of Feeding festival to Seattle in 2013. The gathering of home cooks of various ethnic backgrounds debuted in Vancouver last year, and returns on June 10. It’s an all-day outdoor foodfest that’s absolutely worth a road trip; Seattleites who do venture north can also consider it an introduction to the woman who is about to make a major mark on Seattle’s restaurant landscape.

Most people know her as the wife of chef Vikram Vij, and the culinary force overseeing the kitchen at renowned Indian restaurant Vij’s and its sibling Rangoli. But Dhalwala says Joy of Feeding is even more personal: “If I have one thing on my tombstone, this would be it.”

She’s quick to acknowledge that her livelihood depends in part on Vij’s culinary star power, but Joy of Feeding is Dhalwala’s tribute to the undercelebrated home cooks, most of them women, who keep their families nourished and connected. She hunted up 16 men and women, hailing from places like Syria, Sweden, and Sierra Leone, and charged each one with making a simple, comforting dish.

A $50 ticket buys you a day spent wandering the UBC farm (blankets welcome), sampling a multicultural array of home-cooked food that feels more personal than your average food festival. Dhalwala also hopes that eating a dish from, say, Ghana might, in its own small way, increase someone’s awareness of that country.

All the information on this year’s Joy of Feeding is right over here. Dhalwala says she has already begun talking to cooks for Seattle—now all she needs is a good space and a great cause.