NEW YORK As a way to herald its official launch and garner interest in its mission, self-described lifestyle company LuckyRice organized an 11-day food festival that drew more than 5,000 people to receptions, tastings, panel discussions, and workshops hosted by noted names like Lisa Ling, David Chang, and Kelly Choi.
“LuckyRice was created to address the interest in Asian culture and Asian cuisine that's become so ubiquitous and mainstream, especially in a city like New York,” said founder Danielle Chang, who explained that as a Web site with recipes and news, LuckyRice is a forum for all things Asian. “So we thought the best platform for creating a lifestyle brand around Asian culture was a food festival. Food is so experiential, it doesn't have any boundaries in terms of ethnicity, and it's something everyone enjoys.”
Based on some suggestions from its culinary council—a lineup that includes Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson, Floyd Cardoz, and Masaharu Morimoto—the organization devised a variety of festivities that would connect with its audience on a visceral level. Starting with a cocktail kickoff at the Bowery Hotel, the festival ran from Thursday, April 29. It included a dumpling-making demonstration, a discussion on Buddhist cuisine, and a restaurant and bar week that took place between Monday, May 3, and Monday, May 10. Proceeds from each event benefited City Harvest and the Asian American Federation.
In a marketplace already crowded with food festivals, tastings, and culinary promotions, the key for LuckyRice was to distinguish itself. “From the very beginning we marketed ourselves as a company that attracts cultural enthusiasts—people that are very sophisticated, that travel a lot, and are interested in learning more about different cultures,” Chang said. She noted that through sponsors like the Museum of Chinese in America, the Korean Cultural Service of New York, and the tourism bureaus of Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan, the festival was able to attract more than just foodies.
The tactics proved successful: Excluding the restaurant week, all of the festival's events were packed. “We were 100 percent sold out. We didn't have a single ticket left, which was a problem, but a good one to have. So we're very happy with the way it turned out, and I think it was a great proof of concept,” Chang said. “I'm also looking to do a permanent night market in New York. Something that's a fun, cultural experience around Asian food.”