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 by Paolo Petroni 
President of Italian Academy of Cuisine

 

In the pages that follow you will be able to read an effective and wide-ranging distillation of the events connected to the Delegates’ Forum, held in Sardinia this past April. By definition, a forum aims to present participants with innovative, culturally significant topics relevant to the organisation itself. All sitting Delegates and Legates, or their representatives if they were unable to participate, were invited. Attendance was high: 181 Delegates (153 in Italy and 28 abroad). In total, with Academic Council Members, Coordinators, and spouses, 267 people attended the meeting in the Forte Village. The Delegate, as our Statute decrees, “represents the Academy in his/her jurisdiction and the other Academicians in his/her Delegation [and] is responsible for his/ her Delegation’s activities”. That is why the Forum gathered them together, but ideally it is directed at all Academicians. Indeed, the Delegates must bring word to all their associates of what they have seen and heard and of the Academic life’s new ethos of participation and sharing. The Academy is not composed only of Delegates but also of Academicians who must be involved with every social activity.

Since the Florence assembly in May 2015, 1,093 new members have joined the Academy (811 in Italy, 282 abroad); their average age is around 55 years (compared to the average member’s age of 63), and 34% of them are female. These are not dry statistics: they are meaningful indicators of a living, thriving Academy, current and motivated, undergoing renewal and rejuvenation. Everyone, but especially the new arrivals (there are 10 new Delegations and 10 Legations), must feel that they are part of the Academy, not only of their own Delegation.

The monthly Newsletter (now also available in English) was created expressly to keep everyone up to date, and for this reason too, Delegates must tell their members what they have learnt and experienced at the Forum: information rooted chiefly in highly timely topics. For the first time, speakers outside the Academy were invited. Alongside issues of internal relevance, such as administration, the Delegation’s cultural role (meetings, prizes etc.), and foreign Delegations’ specific activities with their attendant problems, we also heard from “the other side”, namely the world of cooks, restaurateurs, and industries creating machines for new cooking techniques (vacuum or low-temperature cooking etc.). We also wanted the independent press to weigh in on food guides (and their credibility) and methods of evaluating restaurants. Overall, it was a lively and varied programme, within the time available, and above all, it focused on the present and the immediate future.

Participants were immersed in a highly inclusive, enterprising and progressive atmosphere as they exchanged opinions and experiences, transforming a list of names into a gallery of faces and personalities.

An important event for a superlative Academy.