Slow Food in Azerbaijan Launches its National Slow Food Cooks Alliance and Opens Up its Virtual Showcase in the Marketplace of the Terra Madre Salone Del Gusto 2020 Platform

The EU-funded COVCHEG project opens up its virtual doors at the Terra Madre marketplace dedicated to Slow Food in Azerbaijan and launches the Slow Food Cooks Alliance in Azerbaijan. 7 chefs have come together to join the international network of cooks defending food biodiversity across the world: Orkhan Mukhtarov (Boulevard Hotel Baku), Tural Kerimli (Dushbara Restaurant), Vusal Talibzade (Excelsior Hotel&Spa), Rufat Aliyarov (High Boost Restaurant), Firdovsi Ismailov (Yaban Pub Restaurant), Habibov Abulfaz (Baku Marriott Hotel Boulevard), Salimov Nusret (Khazar Palace Lenkeran Hotel).

“Conserving biodiversity is a guarantee for our future. Food biodiversity begins in the soil and ends at the table,” highlighted Orkhan Mukhtarov.

“As a chef, I try to be mindful of the impact of food on the environment as well as its flavor and quality when designing a menu. To achieve it, I prefer organic food to processed food with chemical additives; products obtained directly and indirectly from local producers to imported products. In these times of pandemic and natural disasters, safeguarding biodiversity is the responsibility of not only cooks but also every food producer and consumer.”

Strong support was given to the cooks’ initiative by the Azerbaijan Tourism Board (ATB), partner of Slow Food in the project and promoter of Azerbaijan’s gastronomy worldwide. “Joining the global movement for good, clean and fair food is a great honour for every chef, and for each of us as well”, states Sakina Asgarova, Industry Associations Manager of ATB. From her very first participation in Terra Madre 2018 in Turin, she succeeded in bringing back and planting the seeds of the Slow Food philosophy in Azerbaijan in many different ways; these 7 chefs in the Alliance being only the beginning.

“It is a great tool for us to be able to preserve the biodiversity examples of our nature and ethnography and transfer that to the next generation in the way we have handled it or even better. Only through this process, would mankind achieve true sustainability of the resources that we have in our hands. I’m really looking forward to getting this red snail not only for our chefs, but also for our community members and see Azerbaijan becoming one of the Slow Food Travel destinations, that people from all over the world would have the pleasure to experience!”

Members of the Azerbaijan Culinary Specialists Association (ACSA), inspired by the President, chef Orkhan Mukhtarov, also got influenced by Slow Food values and joined the Slow Food Alliance. “Although the term ‘Slow Food’ is a new concept unknown to many in Azerbaijan, we have remained faithful to its philosophy for centuries, and most regions of Azerbaijan still adhere to it. Life in our beautiful Baku, like many metropolises in the world, is crowded and fast. I try to reflect the natural and slow elements of rural life in the hastiness of urban life with the help of good, clean and fair food. To accomplish it, I regularly add the Ark of Taste products (28 already catalogued by Slow Food in Azerbaijan) to my personal and professional menu, build friendships and cooperation with the local COVCHEG project producers, as well as take an active role in revealing and promoting the potential of gastro-tourism in Azerbaijan”, states Farhad Ashurbeyli, food blogger, ACSA Executive Director and, from now on, also coordinator of the Cooks’ Alliance in Azerbaijan.