10 October 2022 – Reflection and self-criticism were at the centre of the 1st Congress of Gastronomic Journalists and Writers, that was successfully held on 7-9 October in Menorca, awarded by IGCAT European Region of Gastronomy 2022.
By gathering 21 distinguished voices from the sector – including two IGCAT Experts – the Congress represented an opportunity to analyse the current situation, as well as reaffirm the value of the food writing profession. With 125 registered attendees and 517 views of the livestreaming on YouTube, the event generated a lot of interest around the topics discussed and the will to celebrate a new edition next year.
Organised by the Association of Balearic Food Journalists and Writers, the Congress opened on Friday 7 October at the Museum of Menorca in Mahon with a guided visit to the exhibition The Flavour of Menorca, offering an unmissable walk through the culinary heritage of the island.
Saturday 8 October was marked by an intense programme of presentations by national and international renowned food journalists and writers, alongside two round tables tackling the main themes of the Congress: the role of women in the field of food critics; and food writers’ self-criticism.
Panellists put the spotlight on a variety of thought-provoking topics, such as the history and evolution of the food writing genre; healthy food diets; job insecurity; the lack of transparency to differentiate between informative content and advertising; new ways and tools to keep informed; and how to effectively reach the audience.
The session included interventions by international IGCAT Experts Lila Karapostoli (Greece) and Wendy Barrie (Scotland). A food journalist, writer and lecturer, Karapostoli focused her presentation on Finding your style in food writing, highlighting the importance of storytelling and narrating from one’s own personal experience.
Food writer, local produce campaigner and Director of the Scottish Food Guide, Wendy Barrie stressed the importance of first-hand experience for food writers and journalists to offer a true and accurate report of the foodscapes they talk about. In her presentation The proof is in the pudding: quality is judged by direct experience, she also emphasised the work of IGCAT and the World/European Region of Gastronomy Platform in creating opportunities to celebrate local products, as well as preserve biodiversity and traditional food knowledge.
See the full list of panellists: Congress of Gastronomic Journalists and Writers
The Congress concluded on 9 October with a visit to the recently inaugurated Centre of Gastronomic Culture hosted at the Sant Diego Convent in Alaior, followed by the last presentations and a session of conclusive debate at the Artrutx lighthouse in Ciutadella.
Participating journalists and writers contributed to the drafting of the Menorca Declaration on the Ethics of Food Journalism, to be circulated among and signed by further professionals in the field. Based on the statement that food journalists and writers have the power of influencing the choices and behaviour of restaurant customers and food consumers in general, the soon to be published Declaration represents their commitment to essential ethical principles such as: freedom of expression; analytic rigour; social durability; cultural enrichment and diversity; environmental and economic durability; healthy eating; the importance of teamwork; local impact; and equity.
This pledge stems from the need to defend the food writing profession against the pervasiveness of banal – often self-interested – contents spreading in forums and social media; expose the increasing insecurity of food writers work conditions and; urge the reaffirmation of the journalistic profession as an intellectual activity, based on accurate field work and personal reflections aimed at creating debate.
As food writers, “we are the repository of a legacy that was mainly developed in private households. It is our job to work on that legacy, spread it, promote it, value it and write it down; always abiding by the code of ethics that regulates our profession” explained Pep Pelfort, promoter of the Congress.
Organised in the framework of Menorca, European Region of Gastronomy 2022 title year, the Congress was sponsored by the Leader Illa de Menorca Association, the Fundació Foment del Turisme de Menorca and the Island Council of Menorca, and supported by other local entities and businesses.
Watch the webinar recording at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26-D0YtLUmI
About the European/World Regions of Gastronomy
Candidate and awarded World/European Regions of Gastronomy, guided by IGCAT, are working together to strengthen food security through the celebration of distinctive food cultures; create employment by stimulating creativity and gastronomic innovation; nourish children and adults through culinary and cultural education; drive environmental sustainability in tourism, hospitality and agricultural sectors; support balance and sustainable tourism practices; highlight and support expertise from within rural and urban communities, creating connections and sharing good practises; and contribute to community health and well-being.
IGCAT aims to empower local communities by raising awareness of the importance to protect and promote distinct regional food, culture, arts and natural assets as part of sustainable and balanced tourism and development strategies. This is essential to safeguard our planet, health, wellness and local economies.
IGCAT is a non-profit institute established in 2012, working with regional stakeholder consortiums in the fields of gastronomy, culture, arts and tourism. It counts on the expertise of a worldwide network of experts and works in partnership with specialised intergovernmental organisations.
IGCAT founded the World/European Region of Gastronomy Award and is the official secretariat for the World/European Regions of Gastronomy Platforms. Furthermore, the Institute has developed the European Young Chef Award, the World Food Gift Challenge, the Top Websites for Foodie Travelers Award and the international Food Film Menu.