Chefs Unite, Cultures Meet
On May 22 in the heart of Europe, young and innovative chefs from Brussels and the Balkans regions joined forces in 9 restaurants across the Belgian capital to shine a spotlight on the rich gastronomic heritage of the Balkans. This unique gathering of chefs was organized by Slow Food and hosted by the Slow Food Chef’s Alliance, a network of chefs in 20 countries that is committed to defending food biodiversity and promoting the work of local food producers.
The aim of Brussels Tastes the Balkans was to showcase the unique gastronomic traditions and agroecological practices of the Balkans that can serve as an economic, social and cultural driving force for many rural communities, impoverished by decades of abandonment, emigration, and scarce development prospects.
The Brussels restaurants Bouchéry, Racines, Jef, Le Tournant, Le Garage à manger, Chez Augusta, Les Filles, Les Brigittines, and Osteria Agricola Toscana paired up with chefs from Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, and Romania to prepare an array of dishes featuring local and seasonal products. Diners savored dishes such as cicvara sa Hercegovackim sirevima i salatom od tusta (slow cooked polenta with Herzegovina cheese and purslane salad) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, lyutenitsa, a spicy pepper and tomato tapenade made with Slow Food Presidium Kurtovo Konare tomatoes from Bulgaria, spelt and ricotta gnocchi with cuttlefish and broad bean ragù and smoked lamb with cream of Poljak Beans, a Slow Food Ark of Taste product from Trebinje in the Herzegovina region.
The event was held as part of Terra Madre Balkans, the biennial gathering of rural communities, food producers, chefs, activists, youths and academics from throughout south eastern Europe which, for the first time, was held at the European Parliament on May 21-23. Take a peek at the photo gallery from the tasting held at the European Parliament on the 22nd of May.