An international expert meeting on Regional Gastronomy: Between Innovation and Tradition was organised by IGCAT, ATLAS and the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo on May 29-30th 2014. The meeting held in Refóios do Lima attracted some 30 participants from countries including Portugal, South Africa, the United States, Thailand, New Zealand, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Russia and Ireland. A dozen papers were presented on many different aspects of the tension between tradition and innovation in regional gastronomy, including the thorny topic of authenticity, the development of creative tourism and the need to develop distinctive gastronomic brands. The full extent of current gastronomic innovation was revealed in a presentation by Silvia Aulet, Lluís Mundet and Josep Roca, who provided a highly visual journey through the innovative cuisine of the Roca brothers in their paper ‘Between tradition and innovation: the Case of Celler de Can Roca’ They discussed the inspiration for a range of exotic dishes, including a dessert inspired by one of Lionel Messi’s most famous goals.
However, for many regions the problem is not promoting their Michelin starred restaurants, but raising the profile of regional and local gastronomy. In regions such as the Minho in Northern Portugal (location of the meeting), there is very good local produce and great traditional food, but this is often unknown for tourists. Various solutions for branding and marketing regional cuisine were discussed at the meeting, including the forthcoming European Region of Gastronomy Programme, and the idea of developing a gastronomic brand index for regions.
Lori Miranda and Lynn Carano from Cognizant Communication presented the new Journal of Gastronomy and Tourism at the meeting. This will be a multidisciplinary journal which will bring together a lot of the disparate sources in this field. Some of the papers from the current meeting will also be submitted to the new journal.