In conversation with Barbara Roan from Lucky Rice about the festival LUCKYRICE that brings together talented creators to share the influence of Asian flavours, ingredients and techniques. The event at Berkeley Church event venue Toronto was the Canadian launch.
LUCKYRICE Festival was created in 2010 with the desire to share stories of Asian Culture through the lens of food and drink. How has this Festival evolved and grown since its beginning? 
We started off in our hometown of New York City and we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to bring our events to over 5 U.S. cities this year, as well as entering Canada for the first time with our Toronto event at the Berkeley Church this month. What we have found over the past years, which has definitely helped us grow, is how prevalent Asian ingredients, techniques, and flavours are in everyday cuisine…and how responsive the general public is to learning and tasting new flavours.
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The theme of the LUCKYRICE cocktail feast #EatDrinkGetLucky at Berkeley Church focused on cocktail concoctions inspired by Asian ingredients featuring BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® East Gin and other spirits.  What was the process for the creation of these cocktails?
We worked with our partners at Bombay Sapphire to invite the top mixologists in Toronto to participate and gave them free reign to come up with their cocktails. These guys have so much imagination and are so good at their craft, we knew we would be in good hands if we just let them fly with it.
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LUCKYRICE brings together talented creators for its events, Celebrity Chef Susur Lee with his son Chef Kai Bent-Lee participated in the event and created a signature cocktail for the LUCKYRICE Toronto event.What are some of the benefits of bringing together creative collaborations?
We love encouraging collaborations because you never know what will come out of it. We will often throw together chefs who specialize in different cuisines or we will ask a chef and a mixologist to come together on what we call ‘Epicurean Cocktails.’
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What trends do you see in the food scene that you appreciate?
The influence of Asian flavors, ingredients, and techniques! 🙂
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  What are some of the upcoming LUCKYRICE projects and what are some on the wish-list to create?
We have an amazing PBS show called Lucky Chow which premiered this spring in the U.S and our first cookbook by our founder, Danielle Chang, will be released in the U.S right before Chinese New Year 2016. We’re always looking for new collaborations or avenues to help tell stories of the amazing chefs, entrepreneurs, and foodies we meet.
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What made the Berkeley Church a fit as a venue for this event?
We loved the history and character of the venue… we know how important it is to have a great venue for live events.
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 What three words would describe this festive event?
Can we do four words?? Eat, Drink, Get Lucky!
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What elements made this event a great success?
Food + Drink + Music = You Can’t Go wrong there!
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What part does social media and the idea of “sharing” play in the LUCKYRICE Festivals?
It’s the only way to get the word out about what we do and what the amazing mixologists created at our event. We want to make sure those who could not be at the event itself are able to at least see all the yummy things that are coming out of it.
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The fabulous decor and overall layout of the event created so many different settings for photo-opportunities. Did you have this in mind when you designed the event?
Always! We all love a great Photo Op.
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LUCKYRICE brings its cocktail feasts from coast to coast. What are some of the benefits and ramifications of having an event that takes place in different and diverse settings?
We love taking events to different cities and adapting them for new audiences. It’s always fun to see what works (and what doesn’t) and makes us want to make it even better the next time around.
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LUCKYRICE has an experiential marketing arm, LUCKYRICE AGENCY, that among your many other projects, you produce events for product launches. What are some of the key elements in producing an event that simultaneously promotes the brand offered as well as provides genuinely fulfilling experiences for the participants?
We love to share our vision and experience with clients and are just thrilled we’re able to partner with them on some amazing projects.
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LUCKYRICE is constantly evolving and in an agile way adding services and areas of expertise. Is this ability to be in a constant state of innovation and creation a key element in LUCKYRICE‘s success?
Yes, we never want to limit ourselves so sky’s the limit!
Photography: Paul McNulty