The title of European Region of Gastronomy 2019 has been awarded to the South Aegean in Greece and the Transylvanian town of Sibiu in Romania, the international jury announced on the 29th of September.
The title is awarded each year by the IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) with the support of European institutions. The award aims to stimulate gastronomic innovation and sustainable tourism.
The international jury comprising of IGCAT experts was chaired by Blanca Cros from the Catalan Tourist Agency (Spain), and included Peter Astrup, Central Denmark Region (Denmark); Anna Blaua, Delightfully Delicious Destination Project at Riga Tourism Development Bureau (Latvia); Alfred van Mameren, Province of Noord-Brabant (Netherlands) and; Ilona Sares, ProAgria Kuopio (Finland).
According to the IGCAT, it is ‘a stimulus to link food, hospitality, tourism, culture, health and sustainability to support economic, cultural, social and environmental development’. Both regions will host programmes of gastronomy-related events throughout 2019 that will showcase regional culture and innovation.
The jury was very impressed with the work undertaken by both candidate regions in preparing and presenting their bids.
The South Aegean region of Greece consists of the Cyclades and Dodecanese island groups in the central and south-eastern Aegean Sea. The region has more than 50 inhabited islands with specific historical backgrounds and culture, as well as distinctive gastronomic identity and local products, from Santorini, Paros and Mykonos through to Kos, Rhodes, and Naxos.
George Hatzimarkos, the region’s governor, stated that for the South Aegean, gastronomy is not just about food, but also a social and cultural event. Quality ingredients are shaped by the micro-climate, the sun, the air and the sea, with trademark olive groves and vineyards part of the gastronomic tradition.
IGCAT is an international network of experts in the fields of culture, arts, tourism and gastronomy that aim to empower local communities by guiding, facilitating and supporting leaders in cities, regions and cultural projects to understand the potential of their distinct food, culture, arts and sustainable tourism assets.
This award aims to contribute to better quality of life in European regions, by highlighting distinctive food cultures, educating for better health and sustainability and stimulating gastronomic innovation.