The philosophy and campaigns promoted by Slow Food over the past twenty years to strengthen regional, tasty and sustainable food, and reconnect consumers with the origin of their food, have inspired a great number of initiatives, among them the opening of food emporium Eataly on Manhattan Island yesterday. Following openings across Italy and in Tokyo, the new 5,000 square meter venue showcases both the best of Italian regional products and local products resulting from combined Italian and American know-how and produce.
At the launch, Slow Food President Carlo Petrini said the initiative was an important step towards a better food culture for the region, raising the profile of American artisan food producers whose values match those upon which Eataly was founded.
New York major Michael Bloomberg opened Eataly together with the venture’s three main business partners, business founder Oscar Farinetti and New York’s famous Italian chefs, Joe and Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali, expressing his best wishes and praising the 300 jobs created.
“We’re not a food hall. We’re a grocery store with tasting rooms and restaurants. We don’t want you to just come and eat and walk away. We want you to come and taste some things and then take them home and cook them,” said Mario Batali talking to the New York magazine.
Also attending from Italy were the Mayors of Piedmontese cities Turin, Bra, Alba, Novello and Barolo, as well as the president of the Region of Liguria, who were proud to be there and see their culinary treasures so well displayed and appreciated.
One of the many local producers celebrating the opening of Eataly was Don Lewis, whose organic stone-milled flour is being used in the bakery department of the store. Participant in Slow Food’s Terra Madre network of small-scale farmers, Don has been producing organic flour for ten years at his Wild Hive Farm in the Hudson Valley, and said the opening felt like a dream come true.
“Education is crucial, ” said Don. “We are currently refurbishing an old barn on our farm that will be dedicated to education activities. People weren’t concerned with local products ten years ago but community awareness is much higher now and there is great interest in learning more. Eataly in New York will give us the visibility we need to convince more farmers to grow heritage grains in the area and push forward our vision of a stronger local economy”.