GREEN WORLD: Chengdu is admired for its high density of plants (WANDI)
Travelers to southwest China's Sichuan Province are very happy, as their taste buds can be fully satisfied there. The capital city of the province, Chengdu, was awarded the title of the City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on February 28, and has also been approved to join the UNESCO's Creative Cities Network. With this announcement, Chengdu becomes the first UNESCO's City of Gastronomy in Asia.
Chengdu won the title because it was vigorously devoted to a food culture industry, said Wang Zhonglin, Vice Mayor of Chengdu and the deputy head of the team that presented the city's applications for the awards, at a joint press conference in Beijing on February 28 co-hosted by the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the Beijing Municipal Government.
As a significant part of the city's leisure culture, food perfectly showed the spirit of the city—pragmatic and innovative. It was not only traditionally a special industry, but also provided a living for a large part of the city's workforce, Wang said.
Besides already boasting mass participation in diverse interesting activities, Wang said Chengdu has for many years hosted a gourmet festival.
Winning the title would bring a positive impact to Chengdu's future development, he said. "It would create a unique brand for the city to market itself, establish a sound platform for international cooperation and communication, and promote the development of cultural and creative industries in the city."
Meanwhile maintaining and enhancing the brand of City of Gastronomy would be a long-term task, Wang said, adding that the city will regard the award as a new starting point.
In addition, the city would both earnestly commit to further conserve the heritage of traditional food culture and accelerate its modern food industry. Wang said that Chengdu is now seeking to rebrand itself as an internationally renowned gastronomy capital based on the awards.
This year, Chengdu will launch the establishment of the Global Food Alliance. It will hold a gourmet festival in Paris, the location of the UNESCO headquarters, and it would further hold exchange activities around the world, Wang said.
It would also improve traditional Chinese food culture and traditional cooking techniques by applying scientific concepts about modern diet, formulating production standards for major brands of Chinese food and promoting the standardization of the development of Sichuan cuisine, he said. "In this way, Chengdu could be built into a world research, development and innovation center for Sichuan cuisine."
During the next three years, Chengdu will try to achieve a goal of an average growth rate of more than 19 percent for catering industry turnover, and to reach an annual turnover of 55 billion yuan ($8 billion). At the same time, the city will also accelerate the cooperation with foreign food companies.
Creativity leads the way
"Chengdu wins this honor because of its commitment to the protection of the world's cultural diversity," said Fang Maotian, Secretary General of Chinese National Committee for UNESCO at the press conference.
As a famous historical and cultural city, Chengdu has long-standing traditions, of which cuisine is an important component.
Today, Chinese cuisine is renowned all over the world and with its development Chengdu's gourmet dishes have become a shining advertisement for the city. Greater numbers of people are getting to know of the strong cultural heritage and charm of the city.
From being the birthplace and development center of Sichuan cuisine, one of China's eight major schools of culinary art, Chengdu is growing into one of the world's most important gourmet centers.
The city has claimed dozens of "firsts" in China and in the world. It once had China's first winery, first tea culture center, first cuisine industrial base and first cuisine museum.
In recent years, Chengdu has organized or taken part in the organization of many international activities related to the protection of cultural diversity and intangible cultural heritage.