A Million Food Stories of Coimbra Region (Portugal) was the title of the bid that won the hearts of an international jury of experts that officially recommended the region for the European Region of Gastronomy 2021 award at a press conference on 27 July 2018. The announcement took place in front of local and national media at the prestigious heritage site of Montemor-o-Velho Castle, following a two-day jury visit to the region.
The jury of experts from IGCAT, representing different sectors from previously awarded European Regions of Gastronomy, had the task of assessing Coimbra Region´s readiness to host the title in 2021: The Chair of the jury, Vice-President of IGCAT and UNWTO International Officer, Dr. Edith M. Szivas and expert on sustainable tourism development announced the results from; Anja van Hout, Municipality of ´s-Hertogenbosch, expert in strategic regional development from North-Brabant, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2018 (The Netherlands); Dr. Mihaela Antofie, University Lucian Blaga of Sibiu, expert in sustainable development and environmental protection from Sibiu; European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2019 (Romania); and Antti Iire, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, expert in public-private partnerships and SME-development from Kuopio, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2020 (Finland).
The decision of the jury was the result of an attentive evaluation of Coimbra Region’s bid book, presented on 31 May 2018, and the visit to the region organised by CIM Região de Coimbra on 26-27 July 2018, where the experts had the chance to meet the Founding Partners and leading organisations of the region’s candidacy, as well as local stakeholders from public, private, third sector and academic institutions.
In particular, discussion with local stakeholders focused on the opportunities offered by the European Region of Gastronomy title to link gastronomy with sustainability, health, SME development and education.
The jury complimented Coimbra Region for its impressive gastronomic assets and capacity of engaging a great variety of stakeholders on the territory, suggesting further development of cross-sectoral cooperation.
The region’s strong commitment to increase the relevance of gastronomy to regional development and build strategies to actively involve the education sector was especially appreciated by the panel, together with the region’s capacity of capitalising on its traditions to create a long-term vision for the future.
The jury stressed that the bid:
– successfully combines the different focus areas of the European Region of Gastronomy into the strategy;
– presents a clear roadmap towards 2021 and therefore is likely to provide a lasting legacy for the region;
– shows a solid engagement from the regional partners to the programme;
– shows a clear understanding of the necessity of a strong marketing and communication strategy.
Furthermore, the panel recognised the willingness of the tourism and hospitality sector to work together under a collective brand; the strong will and commitment of the stakeholders to cooperate towards common objectives; and the significant support for SME development and new entrepreneurship.
Finally, the experts highlighted that the title, if wisely used, can support Coimbra Region in its endeavour to become world renowned for gastronomy, sustainable tourism, and food and gastronomy education.
Subject to this recommendation being agreed by IGCAT Board, the Award Ceremony will take place in Brussels on 8 October 2018 at the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia during the European Week of Regions and Cities.
About the European Region of Gastronomy
Candidate and awarded Regions of Gastronomy from Europe, guided by IGCAT, are working together to raise awareness about the importance of their cultural and food uniqueness and share the long-term aim to: promote a better quality of life in European regions; highlight distinctive food cultures; educate for better health and sustainability; nurture creativity; improve tourism standards; and stimulate gastronomic innovation.
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 aims to empower local communities by guiding, facilitating, and supporting leaders in regions to understand the potential of their distinct food, culture, arts and sustainable tourism assets.
IGCAT provides the Region of Gastronomy Award and is the official secretariat for the European Region of Gastronomy Platform. Furthermore, the Institute has developed the European Young Chef Award the Local Food Gift Challenge, the Top Food Experiences of the Year and the Food Film Festivals project.