â€śThe Italian style in cuisine: success stories from around the worldâ€ť and â€śGuidelines for the promotion of Italian Cuisine in the worldâ€ť were the topics of the main conferences scheduled at this yearâ€™s (2008) Alma Viva, Le giornate internazionali della Cucina Italiana. The annual meeting, organised by La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina chaired by Gualtiero Marchesi, was held in Colorno (Parma) on 5th and 6th October.
The event may well represent a turning point in the history of Italian cuisine abroad because, for the first time, the qualified representatives of many important Italian culinary associations, as well as some of the most famous and talented Italian chefs and restaurateurs, met to discuss the issues of Italian cuisine abroad.
Among the formers there were representatives of the Italian Federation of Cooks (FIC), Eurotoques and the Italian Federation of Public Food Outlets (FIPE), while among the latter there was Raffaele Alajmo, Massimo Bottura and Claudio Sadler.
Various GVCI members were among the speakers: President Mario Caramella (see excerpt of his speech below), New York based chef Cesare Casella and Rosario Scarpato (Honorary President and Managing Editor of this site) who showed a documentary he has produced for Rai Sat Gambero Rosso Channel, on 20 years of fine Italian cuisine in Hong Kong (La Bella Cucina in Hong Kong)
Other chefs and restaurateurs working outside Italy also participated in Alma Viva, including Fabio Trabocchi (Chef of Fiamma, New York), Renato Favaro (Luxembourg), Italo Bassi (Enoteca Pinchiorri, Tokyo) and Paolo Seletti (CaffĂ¨ Parma, Beijing).
During the conferences, moderated by food writer Paolo Marchi, many speakers voiced harsh critism of the lack of effective action taken by Italian public institutions to promote Italian cuisine abroad.
Gianfranco Caprioli, a high-ranking manager at the Italian Ministry of Economy, and Riccardo Deserti, a representative of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, listened to the critics and both have since declared themselves to be open to evaluate new projects, particularly if proposed by an organization such as GVCI.