Our Vegan & Vegetarian Food Festival in Siem Reap!

This past weekend, Free To Shine hosted its first fundraising event in Siem Reap!(Last month, Rosy's Guesthouse in Siem Reap donated profits from a pub quiz to Free To Shine, but this is the first event in Cambodia planned and hosted by us!)

Our main goal for the Vegan & Vegetarian Food Festival was to raise awareness about Free To Shine and elevate our local profile. This was extremely important because for many years, Free To Shine has had a low profile in Cambodia and relied entirely on Australia for fundraising and events. Cambodia is a very collectivist country where neighbors help neighbors and organizations love to partner with one another. Free To Shine made a conscious decision earlier this year to be more involved with the local community here and it has certainly paid off!There was a huge lightning storm at 5am, the morning of our event with flooding that lasted until 6:30am. None of our staff wanted to acknowledge the weather for our outdoor festival but luckily, around 7am, the puddles began to dry up and the sun slowly came out from behind the clouds!

The setup took a few hours, but we were thrilled with the layout and how all of the restaurants decorated their booths. At 12'oclock on the dot, guests started arriving and never stopped! We charged $1.00 for entrance and sold tickets for $1.00 that could be exchanged with the vendors for food. This provided us with an opportunity to individually welcome the guests, explain the process and share a little bit about Free To Shine's work!The event also had a live band, drinks, take-away jars full of jams, pestos and types of butters, countless produce from organic farms and an exciting raffle at the end!Pictured below: Footprints Cafe's rice bowl with fresh vegetables. We loved this dish and the environmentally sustainable bowls made of banana leaves!Footprints Cafe generously donated 100% of their proceeds to Free To Shine!

We had 15 restaurants participate, each one serving between 1-5 tapas sized plates for $1- $2. Participating restaurants included: Footprint Cafes, Chamkar Vegetarian Restaurants,蔬食 Siem Reap, Organikh Farm, Great Punjab Celebration Siem Reap, Bayon Pastry School Coffee Shop, La Pasta, Wild Karrot, Lily's Secret Garden Cooking Class & Restaurant, Pou Restaurant and Bar, Asian Street Food - Cambodia , VIBE ,Atmosphere Siem Reap&Phum Bos Farm!Below: Vegan and vegetarian quiches and pastries from Bayon Pasty School.

Bayon Pasty school was a huge hit!

Below: Free pesto tasting from Phum Bos Farm!

Below: Vegan Amok from Lily's Secret Garden!

*Lily's Secret Garden also hosts cooking classes!We also received donations or raffle prizes from the following Siem Reap restaurants that couldn't make it to the festival: Spoons, HAVEN Cambodia, Sister Srey Cafe, The veg "G" table Cafe, Genevieve's, New Leaf, ARTillery, The Republic, Tree, Get Real Yoga, Bang Bang Bakery , &The Hangout.Below: OrganiKH Farm's cooking demonstration, aloe drinks and menu!

Below: Great Punjab Celebration's table!

Below: La Pasta's delicious Vegan Lasagna

Below: VIBE's tasty treats: we loved their Beet Root Hummus!

Below: Atmosphere's table serving up delicious Vegan Falafel!

Below: Wild Karrot's stand!They just opened a new location at hotel 84, serving breakfast 7-12 am everyday!(Photos from their Facebook page)

Below are Pou's beautiful vegan Khmer fusion dishes!

Below: Jono, from the The Siem Reap Co-Op serving up Sangria!

Chamkar's famous wedding dip pictured below:We apologize if you didn't have the chance to try this dish, they ran out pretty quickly, but promised to bring more next time!

Corinne, our Development & Partnerships Manager spearheaded the event and did an outstanding job organizing and executing every part of the busy day. The event went smoother than we could have imagined and the whole afternoon flew by. The atmosphere at the festival was one of our favorite parts: the crowd was a mix of locals, expats and tourists all sampling vegan/vegetarian tapas, listening to music and enjoying eachother's company, everyone was so happy and welcoming and it made the event even more enjoyable.Planning an event for 200+ people was a daunting task, but completely worth the hours and stress. We made countless connections with wonderful, local business owners, sponsors and individuals and look forward to partnering with them again soon.If you were able to attend this event or contribute in anyway we want to sincerely thank you for your involvement, we couldn't have done it without everyone's generosity and support!