Crete’s Culinary Sanctuaries, a very unusual cooking school, runs eight programs that vary according to the season and are carried out in island residents’ kitchens and at other sites such as vegetable plots. The students are first shown how food is grown and produced, then how it is prepared; they are taught by local experts who have a proven track record in culinary-cultural preservation projects and sustainable tourism projects. In the springtime, there’s lamb on the spit, snails and horta (wild greens). Summer is for beekeeping and winemaking. During the winter, olive oil becomes the island’s main product.
The project is made of a network of small-scale farmers, cooks, agronomists, botanists, eco-lodge owners, adventure sports specialists, archaeologists and other professionals from Crete’s communities. It not only offers new work opportunities for local people but has also helped alleviate the island’s water shortage, since it promotes agriculture that practices water conservation. The group works to promote sustainable tourism on the island while spreading the local cultural heritage of organic farming linked to the Mediterranean cuisine through seminars.
Nikki Rose, a Greek-American chef and one of the founders of the CCS, describes the programs as “intimate cultural immersion experiences.” Ten years ago, she started the cooking school with Kostas Bouyouris, an agronomist and co-founder of the Mediterranean Association for Soil Health.
The project will be presented at the Thematic Panels at the Third Annual Summit Destinations 2006, in Porto Alegre in Brazil, as one of a series of concrete cases of good sustainable tourism practices.