To promote culinary arts and reach a wider audience, a food coalition partners with a creative platform.

As one of the longest running arts festival in Malaysia, Urbanscapes has become an annual city-wide event that bringstogether music, arts and design communities under one platform. Organised by advertising and event company Freeform, the festival upped the ante last year by incorporating culinary arts to the festival.

“Given today’s consumer behavior and how society has become increasingly digital, there is also an increased yearning to connect viscerally. The impact of human connections and engagement at the physical level becomes clear and vivid. Everything we do centres on telling a good story,” said Adrian Yap, Freeform’s founder.

“Platforms like Urbanscapes serve to engage consumers. The idea is to create a memorable impact and provide an immersive, live and memorable experience,” he added.

This was where The Good Food Alliance (GFA) came in. What started as a friendship between Edmund Tan, co-founder of Inside Scoop and Renyi Chin, co-founder of myBurgerLab, has grown to become an and award-winning brands in the F& B sector. This includes brands such as Mei by Fat Spoon, Strangers at 47, Grub by Ahong, Wizard at Tribeca and Red Bean Bag, among others.

Being a small medium enterprise (SME) in a competitive landscape, small businesses tend to be outplayed by bigger players with more budgets. As such, GFA has partnered with Freeform to establish a stronger foothold in the market.

“At the start, we had a pop-up stall in Red Bean Bag and was given a chance to experiment before we actually launched MyBurgerLab. We never forgot that favour and wanted to offer the same support to other indie food brands,” explained Chin. Tan added: “The whole idea is to provide advice, motivate and help each other. We also hold monthly knowledge sharing events dubbed ‘Pinch of Salt’ to talk about marketing, financial, safety and other themes useful for the F&B industry.

“With an eye on the big picture, we would want to form a business group in time to come as this would have more leverage as a F&B collective,” Chin elaborated.

Freeform reached out to GFA as a form of creative marketing and the symbiotic partnership has provided the members an opportunity to market to a different audience. It was a culinary showcase of innovation as new dishes were created just for the festival. Under the theme “Reconnect KL”, MyBurgerLab, for example, came up with a Rojak Burger, to embody the rich mix of people, culture and flavours of Malaysia. Inside  Scoop had KL Jam (white chocolate ice cream layered with blueberry, raspberry and passionfruit jam) while Grub by Ahong explored a classic hit from the old school steak houses of KL, the Sizzling Steak.

From left: KL Jam by Inside Scoop and Sizzling Steak from Grub by Ahong.

“We thoroughly enjoyed their experimental curated offerings and look forward to further collaborations in the future,” said Yap who deemed the partnership a huge success.

“One of the key challenges faced by SMEs is the constant pressure to find ways to stretch their resources and invest in a creative experiential avenue. This is precisely how we have envisioned Urbanscapes and Tiffin Food Court, a concept that brings together local food vendors.”

Tiffin was first held in 2016 with just 20 vendors over one weekend. In recent years, Tiffin has grown tremendously with more than RM1.8 million spent over six weekends.

For Chin, the collaboration added a cool factor and a chance to explore new creations. “Urbanscapes targets the young crowd who are the new movers andshakers of society, and the early adopters of trends. We were given a lot of freedom of expression. While there were complicated logistics involved and not easy to get everything off the ground, it was a great learning experience.”

Share this post