Chefs from across Azerbaijan have volunteered to protect local biodiversity and applied to form an international branch of the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance

On January 25th the first gathering of Azerbaijani cooks specifically dedicated to the safeguarding of biodiversity was held in Baku, the nation’s capital. The cooks involved have decided to unite and join forces to help small-scale farmers and local food communities by promoting and communicating their local gastronomic heritage.

Slow Food organized a presentation of the Cooks’ Alliance concept with the support of the Azerbaijan Tourism Board for ten interested chefs from notable hotels and restaurants around the country who’ve shown interest in forming an alliance to protect and revitalize local flavors on the verge of being lost. The initiative was started within the framework of the EU-funded COVHCEG project implemented by Slow Food International in partnership with the Animal Protection Public Union and the National Association of Rural Municipalities of Azerbaijan, in close cooperation with the State Tourism Agency, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education and the PASHA travel agency.

The meeting started with a welcome speech by Sakina Askerova, a representative of Azerbaijan Tourism Board. Famous food-blogger and co-founder of the Azerbaijan Culinary Specialists Association (ACSA)Farhad Ashurbeyli introduced the chefs, stating: 

“We as chefs from Azerbaijan are ready to collaborate with Slow Food to protect the biodiversity of Azerbaijan and promote it by communicating with our visitors and guests.” 

The gathering continued with the Assistant Project Manager Yagub Zeynalzade’s presentation on the Slow Food Cooks Alliance concept, the good, clean and fair philosophy and other components of the project. During an active discussion session, the chefs stated their intention to organize masterclasses, look for other ways to collaborate and to visit the heroic small-scale farmers whose products they want to promote. The Slow Food Youth Network in Azerbaijan also participated actively in the presentation.

The chefs are also giving active support to the Ark of Taste by highlighting animal and plant species that are in danger of extinction and submitting them for inclusion in the flagship Slow Food catalog of endangered foods. Everyone is invited to contribute by nominating the local foods of their region here!