The European Region of Gastronomy title is a new European award that will recognize innovation and integration in gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. The regions awarded the title should demonstrate their uniqueness through food, drink and hospitality with innovative development of culture, gastronomic experiences, and art or artistic expressions. The meeting considered, amongst other things, the selection criteria for a region to be awarded the title and the establishment of an ERG network. The development of an ERG network would support cross-marketing initiatives, exchange of knowledge and provide a vehicle for longer-term legacy measures.
The first working meeting of the European Region of Gastronomy award took place in North Brabant in the Netherlands on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 April 2014. The meeting, which was organised by IGCAT and hosted by the Province of North Brabant and Agrifood Capital, provided the opportunity to discuss with interested regions the opportunities that holding such a title would offer as well as discuss details related to the administration and time-table for the launching of the award.
Attendees at the meeting came from eight European regions including North Brabant Province, The Netherlands; Minho Region, Portugal; Sibiu County, Romania; Aarhus/Central Denmark, Denmark; Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy; Province Alpes Cote d’Azur, France; Riga County, Latvia; Valletta, Malta.
The meeting established IGCAT as the independent institute which will organize and coordinate the title as well as support partnership development and identify areas of growth. The regions agreed that a pilot period could experiment with different models and, to this end, it is intended that several regions will form a group and present a proposal to Interreg Europe.
The meeting was chaired by Prof. Greg Richards, Tilburg University who has developed the concept for the ERG. Speaking about the title he noted “the aim is to develop an award based on the grass-roots gastronomic richness of European regions, which will support longer-term strategic development and improve visibility and networking amongst the regions taking part.”
The meeting was also addressed by the European Committee of the Regions’ Culture Chair, Mr Anton Rombouts. Mr Rombouts has already endorsed the ERG initiative at the COR Plenary Meeting in Brussels on May 30th 2013 and he assured the regions that he intends to support the initiative in achieving full backing from the Committee of the Regions. To this end, an ‘Own Initiative Opinion’ for the Committee of the Regions on Cultural Heritage is being tabled, which will pin-point the important role for gastronomy as part of regional cultural and heritage.