IGCAT’s Story


IGCAT began as an informal gathering of international experts from tourism and cultural sectors and only took a legal form in 2010 (under the original name ARTIDEA) with Jordi Fabregàs from the Centro Cultural Sant Agustí, as its first President. The association of experts was registered in Barcelona, under Spanish law with intention of creating an institute for research and developing an Award that would both encourage and recognise regions with projects for the convergence of gastronomy, arts, culture and tourism. The objectives of the Institute were to stimulate sustainable development through creativity, culture and gastronomy.


After searching for a base to set up the institute, the Board accepted an offer of support from Sant Pol de Mar City Council who to this day have provided the office for IGCAT. Sant Pol de Mar is an ideal location for IGCAT, an example of sustainable and balanced tourism away from high density city life, with high quality gastronomy on offer. The town also hosts a world famous hospitality school that has become a strong strategic partner for IGCAT. The office was manned with volunteer support from Board members and students. The association was involved in training and support for European Capitals of Culture and author of the European Capital of Culture Report Volume 3 published by Atlas.



IGCAT attended a number of meetings in Brussels during 2012, including European Audiences: 2020 and beyond and the European capitals of Culture stakeholders meeting. The association was involved in training and support for European Capitals of Culture and author of the European Capital of Culture Report Volume 4 published by Atlas. During a meeting of IGCAT experts the concept for a European Region of Gastronomy Award was developed and funding was sought for a first meeting of regions to test the idea.



IGCAT elected a new President, Prof. Greg Richards from the Tilbourg University in the Netherlands and Dr. Diane Dodd was employed as Executive Director. In order to oversee the development of the European Region of Gastronomy Award concept. At the same time IGCAT continued to develop training initiatives to support European Capitals of Culture and researched the themes of stakeholder structures, citizen awareness and development projects, audience development and long-term legacy approaches.

IGCAT organised the 1st Annual IGCAT experts meeting with representatives from Europe and Asia.

The European Region of Gastronomy project was endorsed by the European Council of the Regions’ Culture Chair, Mr Anton Rombouts at their Plenary Meeting in Brussels on May 30th and IGCAT launched the pilot initiative in Europe.



A meeting was convened in the Netherlands, supported by the City Council of s’Hertogenbosch at which 10 European regions were invited to gauge their opinion and suggestions for focus areas in developing a future award. The regions endorsed the idea for the Award and discussed key focus areas. The concept and criteria for obtaining the Award were adopted, however the regions also insisted on forming a Platform to support the sharing of knowledge and open possibilities for joint international projects.

IGCAT convened its 2nd Annual experts meeting entitled “The Art of Food: Creativity, Diversity and Sustainability”.



The first bid books for European Region of Gastronomy were submitted. Dr. Diane Dodd was elected President of the IGCAT network and also continued her role as Executive Director of the European Regions of Gastronomy Project. At the same time, new members were brought into the Board, representing major institutions.

IGCAT was invited to present at the 1st UNWTO – BCC World Forum on Food Tourism in San Sabastian.

The 3rd IGCAT Annual Experts meeting took place entitled “Food and Cultural Diversity” and the first IGCAT trends report was published.

Catalonia and Minho were announced European Regions of Gastronomy 2016 and presented their programmes to the SEDEC Commission at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels.

The European Regions of Gastronomy 2017 Award Ceremony took place in Expo Milan, sponsored by DG Growth of the European Commission and within the EC Food Week celebrations.



Catalonia and Minho became the first regions to hold the Regions of Gastronomy Award. At the same time bid books were presented for Regions of Gastronomy in 2017 and 2018.

IGCAT presented to the Eurocities Network on the theme Eventfulness and the link between urban and rural, in the Netherlands.

The 4th IGCAT Annual Experts meeting took place entitled “Art of Food: Culture and Food Diversity and Gastrodiplomacy”

IGCAT presented the Regions of Gastronomy concept at the 2016 IFAMA World Conference in Denmark.

The Regions of Gastronomy Platform celebrated their 1st joint project, the European Young Chef Award, organised by IGCAT, which received enormous visibility with Joan Roca as its official ambassador. Thereafter each year, the event will take place in designated regions.



Aarhus – Central Denmark Region, Riga-Gauja Region and East Lombardy embarked on their year as European Regions of Gastronomy in 2017.

IGCAT and the Regions of Gastronomy Platform developed a concept for innovating on Local Food Gifts. Each region will use the project to select Official Local Food Gifts for their Awarded year.

IGCAT and the Regions of Gastronomy project has gained significant visibility and was invited to the 2nd Joint UNESCO/UNWTO World Conference on Culture and Tourism.



North Brabant and Galway-West of Ireland embarked on their year as European Regions of Gastronomy 2018.

IGCAT was invited to present the Regions of Gastronomy project at the ASEAN Gastronomy Conference held within the framework of the ASEAN Tourism Forum. Given this increased visibility, the IGCAT Board have agreed that it is time to open up the Regions of Gastronomy project to regions across the world.



Sibiu and South Aegean celebrated their year as European Regions of Gastronomy 2019.

During the 6th Annual IGCAT Experts Meeting, IGCAT members approved to establish the Institute as a Foundation and to open up the Region of Gastronomy Award to world regions. The first World Regions of Gastronomy Meeting took place in Barcelona and IGCAT started investigating possible candidate regions.



Kuopio region officially opened their kick-off year as European Region of Gastronomy 2020-2021 and hosted the 7th Annual IGCAT Experts Meeting that focused on Food, Well-Being and Wellness Tourism.

IGCAT officially launched the World Region of Gastronomy Award and several regions from all over the globe expressed a strong interest in bidding for the title.

During the extraordinary times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, IGCAT kept supporting the Regions of Gastronomy Platform, especially in thinking strategically about post-pandemic recovery, and spread a strong message of solidarity.



Kuopio continued its celebrations as European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2020-2021, while two regions officially opened their title year: Slovenia, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2021 and Coimbra Region, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2021-2022.

In May, Slovenia hosted the Spring into Recovery webinar on Resilience, Recovery and Raising Excellence in Tourism, held in the framework of the 8th Annual IGCAT Experts Meeting and 22nd European Region of Gastronomy Platform meeting.

In November, the Platform was able to meet in person again for two important events: the European Young Chef Award 2021 (Minho) and the 23rd European Region of Gastronomy Platform meeting (Minho and Coimbra Region).

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