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Gastronomy: it's about people and food

Q&A with Andrew Pitt

In November, 2021, Launceston and Northern Tasmania has successfully bid to be designated a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy- joining 48 other cities in the global network.

The achievement was driven by the Launceston Gastronomy Steering Group. Here's a quick chat with the Group's Chair, Andrew Pitt.

1. Why did Launceston win the title, City of Gastronomy?
Launceston and the North has a really strong pedigree in food, food culture, creativity and food-related industries. The bid to UNESCO combined our history, with the amazing array of current activity in food-related areas, with an intention to use food as the lens to address issues of economic, social and environmental sustainability. It’s a compelling argument really.

2. How much work did the bid for UNESCO's acknowledgment take and who was involved?
This was a three-year passion project led by a group of people from across the food system – business, community, University, and regional agencies. There were also a host of volunteer contributions from many others who were supportive of the bid and the designation.

3. In simple terms, what does the title mean for the place and its people and how can locals take advantage of it?

We’re already seeing great results from the UNESCO designation – for example Wotif’s recent recognition of Launceston as Australia’s top destination is largely in response to the City of Gastronomy achievement in November, 2021. The value of the national and international exposure we have already received has undoubtedly multiplied funding contributions from the supporting Councils. We will see increases in visitation and investment in food-related industries. In the longer term the designation gives the City and the region an identity that we can be proud of – something that has been lacking for some time. Over time, this will increase aspiration for careers in food-related industries, allowing those industries to grow. We’re also looking at ways to work with community to improve quality of life outcomes through improved food access and literacy.

The traditional meaning of the word gastronomy is actually the relationship between people and food – gastronomy is what happens every time someone enjoys eating or drinking something.

4. The word, Gastronomy can conjure up images of white tablecloths and fine wine - what is your advice to people who may be intimidated by the term?
The traditional meaning of the word gastronomy is actually the relationship between people and food – gastronomy is what happens every time someone enjoys eating or drinking something. It’s unfortunate in a way that the word has come to be associated with high-end dining. We want to take back it’s traditional meaning over time so that people think differently about their relationship with food.

5. Now the title's been awarded, what's next?
Our intention is to use the City of Gastronomy designation to build the identity of the city and the region around food, to facilitate connections between different players in the food system to create opportunities to build the local food economy, and to collaborate with other Creative Cities around the world to learn from their experiences.

6. Your fave produce/makers/eats in Launnie?
There are so many awesome gastronomic experiences available in Launceston. A few examples that I enjoy occasionally include a gozleme from Mojo, a kebab from Turkish Tukka, a pastry from Bread and Butter, a coffee from Sweetbrew or Croplines. Out of town favourites include an icecream from Dixie Blue in Deloraine, a cheese platter with a glass of wine at Moore’s Hill vineyard down the river, or fish and chips at the Pilot Station at Low Head. Harvest Market on a Saturday morning is a great place to connect with what’s going on in the local/slow food scene.