Oktoberfest, now widely celebrated across the world, can be traced to over 200 years ago. As Michael Wegener, Deputy Consul General of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Chennai tells DC, “It all started in Bavaria in 1810 as a side event on the occasion of the marriage of the royals”.
What is predominantly a beer festival with German food is today no longer just an annual celebration in Germany, but is people of various cultures coming together to soak in the festivities. Not one to be left behind, Namma Chennai is brimming with festive spirit that has set in from September 21, keeping up with the tradition, and will go on till October 6.
Talking about the festive mood in Chennai, Michael says, “The first Oktoberfest has developed over the years into a famous folk festival which is now known all over the world. Traditionally, the October fest starts with a tradition of beer barrel. It is done by the mayor of the city. And then begins the Oktoberfest. I’ve been here for a little bit more than 2 years. The first and the longest tradition here has been observed by the Hyatt Regency and they have done an amazing job with respect to the festival. Hilton started it last year too. There is a small scale celebration at The Raintree hotel also. Hilton has incredibly improved since last year.”
Tarun Seth, general manager, Hyatt Regency Chennai says, “The beery festive fervour, Wisen (Oktoberfest) was launched on September 21 by Consul General of Germany, Karin Stoll in association with Hyatt Regency Chennai. The Oktoberfest is offering equal amount of vegetarian gastronomic flavours coupled with German brews such as Green Beans Almandine, Sauerkraut and Roast Potatoes, Mushroom Stew, Potato Dumpling, Spinach Spaetzli and Melted Gruyere to name a few. Guests are looking forward to soak themselves in the festive spirit and enjoy their evening with a mug of chilled German beer accompanied by Bavarian delights, and pretzel is a must. While the launch witnessed a large gathering of 140 people, the 15-day festival is expected to see a decent cover for the Oktoberfest.”
Kiron Kumar, F&B head, The Park Chennai says, “We have been doing this for the last 6 years. The highlight of the festival is the beer and we have a good selection and packages of Belgium and German beer. To complement that we are offering sausages, salads, mac n cheese, onion rings.”
What adds to the celebration is the presentation and the vibe the team carries around. “We have picked up the Bavarian flag design on our coasters and napkins. And our associates don the traditional German dress in the evening, in keeping with the Bavarian festival.” We have a good set of expat community coming in, plus locals who really enjoy the beer selection and German food”.
Ashutosh Nerlekar, executive Chef of The Park Chennai tells DC, “We have curated German food. Oktoberfest is all about pork and chicken sausages and our menu revolves around that. As a vegetarian dish we have also added spaetzli to our menu. We are offering potato salad with bacon and onion rings as appetizer”.
Ruban Das, General Manager of Hilton Chennai, says, “Our idea is to maintain the tradition and authenticity of the festival. It is a festival associated with a city and it’s so much about fun, frolic, music, ambience, merriment which we would like to hold on to. We have been able to import sausages from Germany and we serve them with saurkraut and mustard. We serve pretzels too.” About the crowd, Ruban says, “Besides the Europeans and Americans, we have members of Overseas Women of Chennai Club, a lot of German, French, Swiss nationals and Indians coming in.” ITC Grand Chola has been offering Oktoberfest Brunch for 7 years now.