Food is Culture at Cheese: and the winner is…

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Winners of the cooks’ contest announced and numerous initiatives scheduled for international event  

Many initiatives have been organized at the international milk and cheese event, to be held in Bra until September 23, as part of the Food is Culture project, promoted by Slow Food in partnership with another four European organisations.

To speak about food is also to tell the stories of the thousand relations it generates. Relations with distant countries, with new homes and with people encountered along the way. What better way to find out more about them than to turn to the veritable Living Books that are the women and men in flesh and blood ready and willing to speak about themselves? Sitting in front of each other every day at Via Audisio 5 in the Slow Food Editore courtyard, at Cheese visitors and migrants from Syria, Somalia, Peru, Haiti and Serbia will have the chance to talk and speak about their culinary traditions and life experiences without barriers. By addressing the issues of migration, identity and interculturalism, this unique meeting will aid greater understanding of diversity and social cohesion.

A contest for Swedish and Italian cooks was announced at the launch in Stockholm of the project’s symbol, an international exhibition dedicated to the Ark of Taste and the protection of biodiversity scheduled to travel to museums throughout Europe. Competitors were asked to contribute to the protection and promotion of gastronomy and culture by elaborating recipes inspired by the European Year of Cultural Heritage and Slow Food’s work to protect biodiversity. The chefs involved came up with recipes using traditional ingredients, placing the priority on Ark of Taste, Slow Food Presidium and migrant products to tell and promote the stories of local producers.

We are delighted to announce that the winner is Lena Flaten of the Flammans Skafferi restaurant in Storlien, Sweden, with her Taco Jämtland, featuring beans, mushrooms and goat’s cheese with a gooseberry sauce. It is thanks to her close relationship with local producers that her dishes are so unique and authentic. In second place comes Gianmarco Annulli of Il Grillo è Buoncantore in Chiusi, Tuscany, with his semifreddo of pappa al pomodoro canestrino, raw killer prawn marinated in lemon verbena and Chiusi Minuta olive oil and Chiana giant garlic cream. His restaurant, a member of the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance, prioritises local producers and sets great store by seasonality, hence his cuisine of traditional fare interpreted with a touch of imagination. Third is Alessandro Giuliani of Il Pino Grande in Puglia. A member of the Chefs’ Alliance, Alessandro raised the profile of his native region with a dish of Gargano goat meat with almond-stuffed dried figs and lampascioni, grape hyacinth bulbs, favoured with honey and grape.

Chef Lena Flaten will have the opportunity to attend a Masterclass in Krakow as part of the program of events to celebrate the city, European Capital of Gastronomic Culture in 2019. For the occasion she will prepare a dinner in partnership with a Polish chef. The three winning recipes will be included in the exhibition and will continue their journey round Europe.

The recipes were evaluated by a jury made up of Rossana Bettinelli of Europa Nostra, Swedish researcher and food expert Martin Ragnar, and two Slow Food experts responsible for the Ark of Taste and Cooks' Alliance projects. 

Cheese will also see the official inauguration of The Ark of Taste goes to school, a series of activities which, from October, will teach children to discover their local areas in 30 primary schools in Italy, 10 in Croatia and 10 in Serbia. The schools in question will receive a kit including a story to read in class and a number of fun learning tools. They include a sensory box to guess the identity of food products simply by touching them, a game to understand how many kilometres food products have to travel and what means of transport they have to take to reach our tables, a memory game featuring food heroes, producers cooks and artisans, and sensory fact sheets on how to distinguish all the nuances of flavor contained in an apple. Classes will also choose which food product to nominate for the Ark of Taste to save it from extinction, and to choose a recipe to bring out the best in it. The best recipes will be announced in December and will become part of the travelling exhibition.

The aim of the Food is Culture project is to raise the awareness of European citizens about the importance of their food heritage as a way of expressing their belonging to Europe and having a better understanding of the wealth and uniqueness of European cultural diversity. It is fundamental for all of us to devote more attention to the protection and promotion of our food heritage. Slow Food has been working on this for years, cataloguing products that risk disappearing all over the world on its Ark of Taste.

The Food is Culture is promoted by Slow Food in partnership with Kinookus, Transpond AB, Nova Iskra Creative Hub and Europa Nostra, and is funded by the Creative Europe program with the contribution of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Cuneo in Italy. Slow Food wishes to thank Inalpi dairies for the support offered to migrant activities at Cheese 2019.