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June 8, 2018

GASTRONOMY TOURISM: THE NEW GLOBAL TREND

“Cook with grandma,” but do it in 27 countries in Africa.

This is what makes a 26-year old chef Dieuveil Malonga of Group Dieuveil Malonga in Germany different. He travelled across Africa to find grandmothers cooking their favorite recipes and he cooked with them to learn techniques that no Cordon Bleu or Paul Bocuse could teach, only because it’s from his native African roots. No better teachers than the grandmothers who know the native ingredients, who do not measure the spices, yet come up with the same taste and quality their children come back for. Over two years he collects recipes and ensures that these cooking traditions will forever be kept alive for generations to come.

But that is not the only trend happening in tourism. Sriram Vaidhya, AirBNB’s director for Southeast Asia on Experiences (yes, that’s their newest and fastest growing category of services) says that experience is now the best-seller  because people do not want to just do shopping or sightseeing—they want to be part of the experience. Cooking classes, staying in homes and living and eating with a family, tending a farm—these are just some of the “experiential” offers now trending in Tourism.

I was lucky to have attended the 4th UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) forum on Gastronomy Tourism (representing Society for Sustainable Development Inc. (SSTDI) led by Susan Santos de Cardenas who began The Coron Initiative), and even luckier that I got to attend a dinner hosted by no less than the Basque Culinary Center of Spain. After an enriching experience-sharing of successful chefs, tour leaders and travel experts including the elusive Michelin Guide, we were treated to a special evening reception of Michelin chefs from Spain’s food capital, San Sebastian (as BCC is headquartered in Donostia).

Food is the new hook, gastronomy the new experience that everyone is looking for when they travel. In the Philippines, for example, representatives from The Mountain Partnership Secretariat, a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) project, just recently visited the Cordillera with DOT Regional Director Venus Tan and went to meet Slow Food representatives (among a few other stakeholders) to see where local food traditions can be enjoyed by tourists while preserving heirloom recipes, ingredients, and customs.

Kini-ing

Think “Kini-ing” or smoked pork, “Tinawon” or once a year harvested rice and you will understand what Slow Travel is. Eating, hiking, and staying with local hosts—that’s the experience.

Heirloom Rice from Kalinga

It’s not just about buying the rice anymore and taking it home. It’s about eating it with the locals and learning to cook “dinengdeng” and “Etag” as well as singing and dancing with the community. It’s probably about also harvesting rice, picking ripe coffee fruits and the experience of how it is to live in the mountains that are rich with food and culture.

Gastronomy Tourism, Culinary Tourism, Farm Tourism—all rolled into one or any variation thereof.

This is the new entrepreneurial trend. Anyone can be a host-entrepreneur for a farm experience, a town fiesta experience, and a food experience. You need not dream of buying a hotel anymore as my parents thought when I took up Hotel and Restaurant Administration (BSHRA) at UP Diliman. My father thought he would have to buy me a hotel. But we were educated to manage hotels and restaurants, and hopefully get to travel in the process.

But now, every person has the potential to offer services, good food in their homes, share their experience, and people will pay for it. That’s the new tourism model. It’s experiential. People do not take home souvenirs or mementos that they put on top of their piano. They take home experience.

Adlai and tablea

That’s the opportunity we all have because each country has a unique offer, each province or town has its own share of recipes, and each host or community has a unique experience to offer. Think of eating tamilok in Palawan, living in an Ifugao hut and eating freshly-milled heirloom rice with Dinengdeng, snacking with fresh champorado made with Jeykot in Kalinga and brewing freshly-roasted Arabica coffee in Atok, Benguet, or drinking Gipah tea in Lussod. Many tourists also want to learn to plant rice, or feed chickens. If in the past farming can be pure drudgery and hard work, it is now a business opportunity.

Food Tourism. Gastronomy Tourism. It’s  Sustainable Tourism and which contributes, too, to Sustainable Gastronomy.

What food experience can you share from your community?

 

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