iFest CollageiFest 2014 is coming up this Saturday (9:30 am to 5 pm at the UAH Fitness Center). I had the pleasure of interviewing Tessy Cabrera, an iFest volunteer and passionate foodie, about my favorite part of any festival–the food!

HSVEats: What is iFest (International Fest)? How long has it been going on? What is the goal?

Tessy Cabrera (TC): The International Festival is the most important annual event organized and promoted by The International Society of Huntsville with the main support of UAH and local businesses. It’s the only International Festival of North Alabama. iFest started 5 years ago in 2009 with the main goal to promote multicultural diversity through the arts, dances, music, food, crafts, literature and history mainly of the international community residing in North Alabama.

HSVEats: How did you get involved?

TC: I’m originally from Peru, have worked in the travel and hospitality industry for many years, and I’m passionate about traveling and meeting people from all over the world to learn and share experiences about  cultural diversity and heritage. A board member of the International Society of Huntsville knew about my passion and invited me to join and strengthen efforts to create awareness and promote multicultural diversity in North Alabama.

HSVEats: This year there will be an Open Air Market which promises food and merchandise, what kinds of things can we expect to see?

TC: You can find food trucks, so popular now a days in our country, international influenced cuisine from local restaurants, handicraft and unique pieces of art from local artists and businesses, and a language school.

HSVEats: What food(s) are on your “must try” list for a visitor who doesn’t know where to start?

TC: Almost all of our food vendors will be offering food samplers for $1, $2, and $3 so you can try it ALL! We know that some people are not aware  or haven’t tried international food, and feel very reluctant to try new things or pay for something they might not like. We will encourage  attendees to try new things, to feel adventurous through food, by trying the samples of our food vendors. The offerings include healthy and gluten free selections.

HSVEats: Which food vendors are participating?

TC: The full list is:

New Orleans Lunch Box (USA/CAJUN)
Food Fighters (USA)
Neon Lily (EASTERN EUROPE/KAZAKHSTAN)
Tim’s Cajun Kitchen (USA/CAJUN)
Phuket (THAI)
Smoothee (USA)
Brasserie Juno (FRANCE)
Ol’Heidleburg (GERMANY)
Marco’s Pizza (ITALY)
Piper & Leaf (USA/MULTI)
Sady’s Bistro (LATIN)
Nassar, LLC (IRAN)
Subzero Ice Cream & Yogurt (USA)


HSVEats: So lots of familiar faces, and some of the newest spots in town, great mix! Okay, clearly, we’re all about the food, but what are some of the other things visitors can enjoy in addition to sampling international cuisine?

TC: Attendees will enjoy performances of great bands and duos, like Mambo Gris Gris, Rocket City Latin band, Roux de Bayou, the Crackerjacks, international dances from the Philipines, India, Africa, Ireland, Turkey, China and more. There will be children’s activities, plus there will be displays on 33 countries featuring literature, pictures, videos, customs, dresses, and handicraft. Our international community will meet you, talk to you, and promote their countries as a tourism destination. It will be like traveling around the world with no passport!

HSVEats: Anything else we should know?

TC: It’s a FREE family event!  I’d like to see many children and their families enhancing and improving their knowledge about the world and realizing the great experience which it is  to be a small community with so many nationalities and that this is good.