Italy puts in UNESCO bid for traditional cuisine

A conference at the Italian Cuisine World Summit. Photo by Vincenzo Pezzilli

DUBAI - The Italian government is proposing that Italian cuisine outside of Italy become UNESCO World Heritage. This bid came at the same time as the Annual Italian Cuisine World Summit took place for the ninth year in Dubai, with Italian food showcased around the UAE this month.

 This event was organised by IT CHEFS GVCI under the supervision of Rosario Scarpato. The company has traditionally asked participating restaurants around the world to produce an Italian dish on Jan. 10 each year.

 The bid for UNESCO status has been discussed this summer in Italy and was promoted by a series of events hosted by the IT CHEFS GVCI. The objective of the events' launch was to create a table of discussion among Italian Cuisine professional lovers and supporters prior to the printing of a proposal to present to UNESCO. A second meeting for the bid for UNESCO status was then discussed on Nov. 23 following the idea launch. This summit involved the Italian Ambassador to UAE, UNESCO representatives and Italian chefs and restaurateurs that live and work outside Italy.

 On the table for discussion was the addition of a proposal for a health certification of Italian restaurant food, which will ensure that the processing and production of the food were up to scratch, as well as codify real Italian recipes to ensure “Italian” food is presented as it should be. Another objective was to create a video library of Italians creating proper Italian food so that the recipe can be followed to the letter.

 The events in Dubai, from Nov. 20 to Nov. 27, were centered around promoting Italian food to the East. A Michelin star chef in the high-end Italian restaurant Bice in Dubai took part in the event and created specialist Italian food for the occasion. 

 The aim of the UNESCO bid is that Italian food would be protected, the mark of its creation made solid and the health of its recipes respected. After all, the Italian diet is one of the healthiest in the world and the impact of ageing and disease is seen much less frequently in Italy than in other regions.

 It is the second year that the Italian government have promoted Italian cuisine in a dedicated week using participating restaurants around the world, yet the IT CHEFS GVCI have been doing something similar of their own accord since 2008. Their organisation has had surprising success in their vision of encouraging Italian chefs around the world to promote Italian food and lifestyle while using real Italian ingredients. The organisation only began as an offshoot idea by creators Rosario Scarpato and Mario Caramella.

 Each year, a virtual tour of Italian cuisine takes place in Jan. Regardless of the planet orbiting, or the times changing, each restaurant will fire up their stove and create a particular traditional dish. This year, it was zuppa di pesce. In the past, viewers enjoyed risotto, Milanese, Tiramisu, Amatriciana, and many more. Each restaurant came out with their own recipes, but they discussed their choices in a film series showing how each chef created their own design out of the same basic recipe.

 Should the Italians win a UNESCO bid, then common traditional recipes would be codified and promoted outside Italy. Italian food would become as certified to retain its goodness, as standardised as Kosher food is today.