World Food Gift Challenge 2023 awards ten products in Kos

Unique stories and fine craftsmanship from across the World Regions of Gastronomy Platform took the international stage at IGCAT’s 4th World Food Gift Challenge. Hosted by South Aegean – European Region of Gastronomy since 2019, on the island of Kos, the competition awarded the ten best food gifts and craft gifts related to food for 2023, selected by an international jury of experts.

Held at Ktima Akrani on 27 April, the World Food Gift Challenge 2023 gathered 29 among the most outstanding food gifts and craft gifts related to food from eight awarded World/European Regions of Gastronomy including: Catalonia (awarded 2016); South Aegean (awarded 2019); Slovenia (awarded 2021); Menorca (awarded 2022); Trondheim-Trøndelag (awarded 2022); Hauts-de-France (awarded 2023); Saimaa (awarded 2024); and Aseer (awarded 2024).

A competition to celebrate food and cultural diversity

An intense evaluation process took place to identify exemplary, one-of-a-kind gastronomic gifts according to a set of criteria such as taste, attractiveness, sustainability, connection to the region they come from, storytelling, creativity and innovation.

After acknowledging the excellent quality of all the competing products, the jury selected three overall winners:

1st prize, Illa de Mel (Honey Island) by Illa de Mel (Menorca, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2022), handed by Governor of South Aegean Region, George Hatzimarkos;

2nd prize, Nokiakka Jams by Nokiakka (Saimaa, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2024), handed by Mayor of Kos, Theodosis Nikitaras;

3rd prize, Melekouni P.G.I. by Filema Rodion (South Aegean, European Region of Gastronomy candidate 2019), handed by Ambassador of the Aegean Cuisine, chef Argiro Barbarigou.

And seven category winners:

Best Contemporary Interpretation of Traditional Craft, Per Molts d’Anys (For Many Years Ahead!) by Núria Deyà (Menorca, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2022);

Best Storytelling, Masia Packwith 12 Torclum Flavoured Oils by Torclum (Catalonia, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2016);

Best Promotion of the Region, Afternoon Tea by Smaker Fra Øyriket (Trondheim-Trøndelag, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2022);

Best Tasting, Aseer Taste by Tahlal / Abdullah Al-Jurashi (Aseer, World Region of Gastronomy awarded 2024);

Most Ecological Choice, An Apple, A Bee and A Tree by Tjaša Mesinger (Slovenia, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2021);

Most Sustainable Packaging, Plates of Mette from Norway by Mette Brasøy (Trondheim-Trøndelag, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2022);

Most Creative Branding, Table Cannonballs by for ALL (Hauts-de-France, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2023);

The international jury panel included:

Wendy Barrie IGCAT Expert and Director of the Scottish Food Guide & Scottish Cheese Trail, Scotland;

Dimitris Koullias, executive chef and member of the Chefs’ Club of the Dodecanese and Cyclades, a stakeholder for South Aegean, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2019;

Kirsi Vartia, Tourism specialist at the Eastern Finland Rural Women’s Advisory Organization / ProAgria, a leading stakeholder for Kuopio, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2020-21;

Francesco Grech, author, composer, and Cultural Manager at Gozo Regional Council, candidate European Region of Gastronomy for 2026, Malta;

Paula Frade, Researcher at the Institute of Traditional Literature Studies, Heritage, Arts and Cultures (IELT), New University of Lisbon; President and Founder of the Oliveira do Hospital Centre of Culture and Tradition (OH-Culture), Portugal; and IGCAT Expert in Coimbra, European Region of Gastronomy awarded 2021-22;

Andrea Iurato, pastry chef, Master Chocolatier, and owner of Casalindolci pastry shop and lab in Modica, from Sicily, candidate European Region of Gastronomy for 2025, Italy.

On behalf of the jury, Wendy Barrie claimed that: “It has been an absolute pleasure and honour to be on Kos and have the opportunity to evaluate products with such extraordinary quality. They have taken our hearts away! The jury has worked as a great team, collaborating and debating to give value to your products and their future. We once again acknowledged the importance of storytelling to evoke the story of the products and were impressed by the very high standards of all the gifts presented.”

A gala event to announce the winners

The winners of the World Food Gift Challenge 2023 were announced at an award ceremony moderated by President of IGCAT, Diane Dodd PhD and Coordinator of South Aegean, European Region of Gastronomy 2029, Vasia Papailia, and held in the presence of the Governor of the South Aegean Region, George Hatzimarkos. A strong supporter of the World Region of Gastronomy programme since its very beginning, Governor Hatzimarkos was officially awarded the title of IGCAT Honorary Ambassador for his exceptional efforts to protect and promote the South Aegean’s culinary and cultural heritage.

“Nothing can be achieved on one’s own and you always need to be part of a team to go far. I thank all the stakeholders in the South Aegean, because without them nothing would have been possible. The European Region of Gastronomy is one of the best, most efficient and most clever investments that a region can make, in order to preserve the past, serve the present and deliver the future.” claimed George Hatzimarkos.

After the ceremony President of Gozo Regional Council, Dr. Samuel Azzopardi signed a protocol agreement with President of IGCAT, Diane Dodd PhD to formalise the candidacy of Gozo to the European Region of Gastronomy 2026 title.

Local artisans take the spotlight

On occasion of the World Food Gift Challenge 2023, artisans and representatives from the World/European Regions of Gastronomy took part in a three-day programme (26-28 April) where they had the opportunity to present their products to an international audience, discover best practices and visit stakeholders from the South Aegean, as well as exchange knowledge and ideas on how to enhance the visibility of their work.

About IGCAT’s World Food Gift Challenge 2023

The World Food Gift Challenge 2023 was organised by IGCAT in collaboration with the Region of South Aegean and with the support of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Dodecanese, the Chamber of Commerce of Cyclades, the Municipality of Kos, the Municipal Organisation of Culture, Sports and Nursery Schools of Kos (D.O.P.A.V. KOS), the Historic and Folklore Museum of Kos, Ktima Akrani and Workadu.

IGCAT’s World Food Gift Challenge contributes to the protection and promotion of local food and cultural diversity by instilling local pride into local traditions and acknowledging outstanding products from local culinary cultures.

The official ambassador for the project is Ana Roš, head chef and co-owner of 2-Michelin-starred restaurant Hiša Franko and 2017 World Best Female Chef, who salutes the World Food Gift Challenge “focusing on gastronomy on the larger point of view. We need to support more the work of small-scale producers. The food chain is one and we should defend it in its integrity.”

Winners of the previous editions:

European Food Gift Challenge 2022

European Food Gift Challenge 2021

European Food Gift Challenge 2020

About the World/European Regions of Gastronomy

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; driving environmental sustainability in tourism, hospitality and agricultural sectors; supporting balance and sustainable tourism practices; highlighting and supporting expertise from within rural and urban communities, creating connections and sharing good practices; and contributing to community health and well-being.


IGCAT aims to empower local communities by raising awareness of the importance of protecting and promoting distinct regional food, culture, arts and natural assets as part of sustainable and balanced tourism and development strategies. This is essential to safeguarding 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.