Gastronomy, innovation and regional identity

European Young Chef Award 2019 finalists have joined their predecessors and become IGCAT Regional Chef Ambassadors, committing to promote the local food from their region, highlighting the rich culinary diversity of Europe and contributing to saving the planet!

Becoming an IGCAT Regional Chef Ambassador is a commitment going forward to see their role as leaders of change for good. The award was presented by Executive Director of South Aegean European Region of Gastronomy 2019 Heidi Lazani and IGCAT President Diane Dodd in recognition of their commitment to the common goal of adopting more responsible and environmentally friendly food consumption practises.  The 2019 European Young Chef finalists join a network of IGCAT Regional Chef Ambassadors that is growing since the 1st edition of the competition in 2016.

This year, the commitment grew from highlighting healthy and diverse varieties of local foods, innovating on traditional recipes, supporting local farmers and producers and connecting to the regions of goals for sustainable tourism, to considering food waste and plastic reduction in food.

After signing the agreement, the Young Chefs prepared a traditional recipe from their region, many claiming to be inspired by their grandparents. This first day of cooking served as a warm-up for finalists to get to know each other and the kitchen station in which they will prepare their innovations the next day.

Argiro Barbarigou, ‘First Lady of Greek cuisine’ led a panel of international experts that complemented the finalists on their choice of recipes. In anticipation we wait eagerly for tomorrow to see if they are able to improve the dish with culinary and creative inspiration from their region.

The European Young Chef Award is a competition organised and promoted by IGCAT and this year was hosted by the Region of the South Aegean. World-wide renowned celebrity chef Joan Roca is the Official Ambassador for the competition. The Award aims to promote innovations on traditional cuisine; highlight sustainable food cultures; and create future chef ambassadors for their regions and local food products.

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.