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Why I Choose to Volunteer at the World Food & Music Festival

WFMF Meredith

August 29, 2019

Cooking is my hobby. I have demonstrated my cooking skills at various venues, such as the kitchen department of the erstwhile Younkers and other professional kitchen stores. These skills focus mostly on Indian — both South Indian and Mughlai — cuisines. That’s why I’m so excited for the 2019 World Food & Music Festival, one of the premier events organized by the Greater Des Moines Partnership to showcase Greater Des Moines (DSM). The Meredith Culinary Discovery Pavilion is a place to see local celebrity chefs and food artists at work as they share a recipe or two and the art of cooking. Best of all, we can sample what they prepare and it’s free! You can expect to see the following cuisines at the event: Egyptian, Hawaiian, Indian, Italian, Kosovan, Mexican, Peruvian, vegan, vegetarian, as well as preparations with locally grown ingredients.

Attending the World Food & Music Festival

Volunteer at the Pavilion

As a volunteer at the World Food & Music Festival for the past nine years, I have seen the shortage of volunteers at this tent. I started attending the Festival as part of the audience before becoming an occasional helper. Since I love volunteering, I joined the festival as a Shift Volunteer (two-hours). From there, I volunteered with The Partnership as an Event Management Team member for the Pavilion, managing specific programs such as the information booth, cooking demonstrations and adventure tents. The Event Management Team is also responsible for managing the Cultural Discovery Experience. This just goes to show how much I love volunteering, cooking and last but not the least — enjoying sampling various ethnic foods!

Through my World Food & Music Festival volunteer experience, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the local DSM chefs and restaurateurs, as well as philanthropists who help cook meals for our brave homeless veterans and other homeless neighbors. This involvement led me to join with these amazing individuals to help cook and feed at the YMCA and Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS).

Learn New Techniques & Recipes

Along with serving as a volunteer opportunity, the Pavilion is a good place for the occasional cook/chef or foodie to learn new recipes and cooking techniques. I can vouch for this: my own original recipes are constantly modified to incorporate some of the practices and processes I have observed and learned as a Pavilion volunteer. You can also meet like-minded folks who share a desire to learn or improve their cooking styles. I have seen people from across Iowa, as well as other states, show a keen interest in the way Iowa chefs utilize local ingredients. 

I would encourage parents to visit the Pavilion with their children so they can watch and participate in the demonstrations. Occasionally, a chef will call on members of the audience to help out. This gives people a hands-on experience and even gets members of the younger generation an interest in cooking. You may have a budding chef in your family and this would be the impetus they need to learn to prepare a meal for the family.

If you enjoy volunteering and love trying various foods here is your opportunity to have some fun while making a difference in your community.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.

Joe D'Souza

Joe D'Souza is a World Food & Music Festival Volunteer in Greater Des Moines (DSM).