The first European Region of Gastronomy hand-over ceremony took place on 24 January 2017, at Electra Metropolis Hotel in Athens, Greece. Catalonia (Spain) and Minho (Portugal), 2016 European Regions of Gastronomy, passed the baton to 2017 winners: Aarhus-Central Denmark Region(Denmark), East Lombardy (Italy), and Riga-Gauja region (Latvia), officially awarded the title at a ceremony in Expo Milan in October 2015.
Governor of the South Aegean, George Hatzimarkos warmly welcomed the audience, congratulating 2016 title holders for their successful year as European Regions of Gastronomy and wishing 2017 regions a likewise favourable and outstanding outcome.
IGCAT’s President Dr. Diane Dodd, congratulated both Catalonia and Minho for setting high standards after being the first regions to experiment the Award and invited Ramon Sentmarti (Catalonia) and Francisco de Calheiros (Minho) to highlight what for them personally were the greatest highlights/achievements from their year.
Ramon Sentmarti claimed that being among the first regions to be awarded, Catalonia faced several challenges, but reinforced the opportunity that being Region of Gastronomy provided and that has culminated in a Gastronomy Plan for the region. He advised 2017 regions to share knowledge and grow together because the most important outcome has been the enrichment of working across sectors, with different stakeholders and with international partners. He added “working together is not just a plus it is a multiplier effect.”
Francisco de Calheiros added that the most important actions in Minho are still to come and stressed how 2016 has been useful in order to plan for the future of the region. He suggested 2017 regions to strive for cooperation among all sectors involved and to trust, as well as benefit from Regions of Gastronomy network and partners.
In a symbolic, act, Catalonia and Minho then wished the incoming regions well for their programmes in 2017 by presenting gifts to Aarhus-Central Denmark Region 2017, East Lombardy 2017 and Riga-Gauja region 2017.
The event concluded with a dinner hosted by the Governor of South Aegean, offering a menu designed by the winner of the European Young Chef Award 2016, Stelios Stamatios Misomikes together with the Cyclades Dodecanese Chef Club.
The Region of Gastronomy Platform and the European Region of Gastronomy Award aim to contribute to better quality of life in European and world regions, by highlighting distinctive food cultures, educating for better health and sustainability, and stimulating culinary innovation.
IGCAT – International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism – organises the award with the support of European institutions. IGCAT is an international interdisciplinary network of experts aiming to empower and facilitate local communities to realise the potential of their distinct food, culture, arts, sustainable tourism, and other local resources.