Three participating FEASTIVAL chefs give the scoop on the 2019 culinary and arts extravaganza


In the City of Brotherly Love, the food scene and the art scene are vastly impressive. The care and dedication that Philly’s culinary and culture connoisseurs put into their creations garner admiration from many and it’s easy to see why. Audi FEASTIVAL 2019 is the perfect combination of both pillars of talent in Philly; this colorful event features some of the best dishes and drinks cooked up by some of the most notable chefs in the city (over 70 hotspots are slotted for this year), incredible interactive performances (this year will feature 20 aerial performers and dozens of local artists), an auction and an overall memorable night full of rich experiences. The charitable event raises money every year for the 1,000-plus arts performances at Philly’s annual Fringe Festival, and this year promises to be the best one yet.

To help highlight some of the incredible dishes that will be served at this year’s FEASTIVAL, Metro chatted with Diana Widjojo from Hardena (DW), Kiki Aranita from Poi Dog (KA) and Tova Du Plessis from Essen Bakery (TD) to get the scoop on their featured dish and what it means to them to be apart of this incredible culinary event. 

What dish will you be serving this year at FEASTIVAL and what made you choose that dish?

DW: This year I will be making my favorite dish to eat whenever I visit the island of Bali. It’s my version of Balinese Roasted Pig. It’s basically roasted pig belly slathered with a Balinese style paste on the bottom side which is made with a gorgeous blend of four different types of gingers and Indonesian herbs and spices and brushed with a sweet soy marinade skin side, served with Sambal Mata which is a fresh spicy lemongrass and shallot relish and a rice ball. 

KA: Chris Vacca and I will be making a Skuna Bay Salmon Poke with shoyu, ginger, toasted perilla seeds and perilla oil from Gotham Grove. We serve a lot of ahi poke at our restaurant but have the most creative fun with our ever-changing salmon poke dishes. Our Shoyu Ahi and Spicy Ahi pokes are classics that we’ll never be able to change or take off the menu at Poi Dog without upsetting our customers, so it’s exciting for us to use special or seasonal ingredients when we have beautiful, sustainably raised salmon to work with.

TD: We will be making a lemon poppy roulade cake. We were thinking about some typical flavors in Jewish pastries, but also felt like we wanted to create something very light. Poppy seed is such a common inclusion in traditional jewish pastries, and a swiss roll cake feels so “old school”, something most bygone bakeries had in their display cases. 

What are you looking forward to the most by participating this year? 

DW: It’s always a joy to be cooking next to some of the best people in the industry, I am blessed to know some of them and hopefully make new friendships! 

KA: Serving food under trapeze artists.

TD: I’ve never been to Audi FEASTIVAL but always hear about it and see photos, and it looks like a fabulous time. I’m excited to present our dessert and to meet such a broad audience in Philadelphia who are also lovers of food and the arts. 

What does it mean to you to be a part of this highly acclaimed culinary benefit? 

DW: As a minority, a woman and small business owner I feel very blessed and honored to be able to take part in such a fantastic event that supports a good cause. Hardena isn’t really comparable to the other high-end restaurants that are taking part in this festival so there is a sense of pride my family and I have to be invited to cook for Audi FEASTIVAL. 

KA: It is an honor to be included amongst the best restaurants in the city. Audi FEASTIVAL has the benefit of always being visually breathtaking, so it’s always the best party. But most importantly, no one else cooks the type of food we do in Philadelphia and it is exciting to be able to contribute to make it a more diverse scene.

TD: I’m a huge fan of FringeArts and I’m excited for the opportunity to support them. The food industry is so connected to the art and performance world, as many artists and creative people seek jobs in this field. This is our way of supporting their dreams just as they have helped us build ours. 

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