The golden key to development: Gastroeconomy

The golden key to development: Gastroeconomy

Aylin Öney Tan -

What do Denmark, Peru and South Korea have in common? This question has an obvious answer for anyone who is in the gastronomy sector. They have all created a miraculous revolution in acquiring worldwide recognition for their cuisine within a matter of a few years. Their success fascinates many others, especially countries in economic despair, in hopes that gastronomy will save their economies and promote tourism. Turkey is no exemption, the tourism sector has been suffering greatly in recent years, so those who seek ways to reverse the situation see gastronomy as a wizard’s wand in rescuing the ailing tourism industry. 

One wise way to follow is to learn from the experience of others. In the quest for discovering the secrets of those who have made miracles happen, the Turkish Restaurant and Entertainment Association (TURYİD) took the initiative to organize a global meeting to scrutinize the topic. The Global Gastroeconomy Summit, which will be held in Istanbul on March 29, will seek answers to the crucial question of whether gastronomy could be the golden key to development and economic growth and how this could be achieved.

The summit announcement puts forth inspirational cases such as: South Korea, which sells Kimchi to other countries; Peru, which can attract global travelers from Rome and Paris to Lima; The Basque region of Spain, where weapons have not been silent for 40 years, which now invite visitors like Miro’s paintings; and Denmark, which is among the world’s most innovative and exciting in the field of gastronomy today.

The summit will open the stage to people who have been actively involved in the process to present the success stories of these countries. Jaeho Ha, the chairman of the World Institute of Kimchi (WIKIM), will be talking about the institute that has paved the way for the globalization of traditional Korean food culture with a single product, the ubiquitous Korean condiment, Kimchi.

Obviously, there is a lesson that can be learned from the Korean Kimchi case, as Turkish people are proud of their pickling culture and other fermented products of Turkish cuisine, from yogurt to tarhana; the latter dubbed as the world’s first instant soup mix dating back hundreds of years. Especially now that fermentation has become a rising trend in the culinary word, Turkey sure has a lot to offer the world of gastronomy on the sole topic of fermented products.

Peru will set a similar model, as they have made quinoa a globally popular product, while Turkey still seeks ways to promote bulgur (cracked wheat), especially the one made from ancient wheat varieties such as siyez, the now elusive Triticum monococcum wheat, which has been cultivated in Anatolia since the Neolithic revolution.

Exports and Tourism Promotion Board of Peru (PromPeru) brand and communications director Isabella Falco will delve into the phenomenal case of making Brand Peru a global success and how Peru unpredictably achieved a boom in the gastronomy sector. Bulgur producers in Turkey are green with envy of quinoa’s success, rightfully thinking their produce is way more versatile in having diverse cooking methods in Turkish cuisine and also more adaptable to world cuisines. It will surely be interesting to hear the Peruvian story.

Another country that attracts Turkish attention is of course Denmark. Turkish people still have difficulty in grasping the secret behind the success of Nordic cuisine, yet alone how foraging in such a climatically disadvantaged geography became a hip trend. Turkey just cannot make it happen, despite countless wild edible green festivals popping in Anatolia. Foraging is an ongoing practice since the time of hunter-gatherers in this land of plenty. Yet, we do not have an app on foraging like the Danish chef René Redzepi launched last August.

Of course, the Nordic case is beyond foraging. I witnessed just how seriously all aspects of food are taken when I attended the World Food Summit as a panelist in Copenhagen last year. Pelle Øby Andersen is the managing director of the Food Organization of Denmark (FOOD), a public-private partnership that was instrumental in building the interest in Nordic and Danish culinary culture. His talk on the astonishing story of creating a brand “new” cuisine will hopefully inspire Turkish entrepreneurs who have difficulty in branding the Turkish cuisine, which has layers and layers of history and a lot of stories to tell the world.

As seen in all those examples, gastronomy is currently seen as the foremost attractive element in tourism and developing economies. The once miraculous formula of sun, sea and sand no longer works on its own without the added bonus of gastronomic delights.

TURYİD chair Kaya Demirer said all the countries invited to the summit have very different stories in their quest for achieving success, but they have one thing in common. They have all found their own strong points and their own creative voice and worked on those values. I hope this learning experience from others will help find our own voice and the golden key we have been hiding somewhere deep in our culinary treasure chest!

Event of the Week: The Global Gastroeconomy Summit will be held on March 29 at the Istanbul Lütfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC). The summit is supported by the Economy Ministry and the Turkish Exporters Assembly and is expected to be followed by 2,000 gastronomy related people.

Registration can be done online.

Fork of the Week: Street foods of Istanbul from actual street vendors and masters, one of the strong points of the Istanbul food scene, will be served at the event. Be ready to taste some offal—grilled sweetmeats (uykuluk) and liver skewers (ciğer) from Cesur Usta. Lamb intestine rolls (kokoreç) from Ata Usta will dominate the stage along with raw meatballs (çiğ köfte) from Hüseyin Usta and stuffed meatballs (içli köfte) from Mustafa Bey’s Sabırtaşı.

Afterall, gastronomy is an adventure is it not?

Cork of the Week: The Gastroeconomy Summit does not exclude beverages. There is a section devoted to alcoholic drinks, bringing together leading figures from the wine, beer and spirits industry in Turkey, titled “How to Become a Global Brand in Alcoholic Drinks.” Ali Başman, the chairman of Kavaklıdere, a leading winery, Tuğrul Ağırbaş, the general manager of Anadolu Efes, a leading beer brand, and Levent Kömür, the general manager of Diageo Turkey, a leading rakı producer, will be discussing the alcohol industry as an integral part of food.

Another interesting talk on wine routes will be by Clay Gregory, the president and CEO of Visit Napa Valley, who will surely inspire initiatives for the Thrace and Urla Wine Routes in Turkey.

Please note: Another wine event not to miss is the upcoming Challenging MasterClasses (CMC) on April 7-8 at The Marmara Taksim, with legendary wine experts Oz Clarke and Madeleine Stenwreth MW as judges.

Seats are limited. Visit Gustobar Shop online at to secure your place.

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