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2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy officially kicks off

An array of action plans unfolded in order to preserve and revive the city’s cultural legacy with elements of gastronomy as key enhancers.

The Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government, Alexis Tam, and the Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Getachew Engida, together with other guests, joined hands to officiate the kick-off ceremony on January 17th, launching the “2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy” with a lineup of promotional activities and celebrations in tow. An array of action plans unfolded in order to preserve and revive the city’s cultural legacy with elements of gastronomy as key enhancers, with the aim to forge Macao into a City of Gastronomy that shows its unique charm and creativity to the world, and marches towards sustainable development and more far-reaching international collaboration.

The kick-off ceremony of “2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy” took place at the Sai Van Lake Square on 17 January, officiated by guests from home and abroad including the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government and Chairman of the Application of Macao, China for the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) Committee, Alexis Tam, the Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Getachew Engida, Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao SAR, Yao Jian, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Macao SAR, Wang Dong, the Deputy Mayor of Östersund, Sweden and Coordinator of UNESCO Creative Cities Network – Cities of Gastronomy Group, Anders Edvinsson, the Chief of Office of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government, Ip Peng Kin, the Director of Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, the Director of Division of Sciences, Culture and CI of the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO, Shen Yubiao, and the President of the United Association of Food and Beverage Merchants of Macao, Chan Chak Mo.

During the occasion, a certificate conferral ceremony was held for the designation of Macao as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, with Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Getachew Engida, presenting the tablet to Secretary Tam.

Secretary Tam delivered a speech during the ceremony, stating, “In the core part of our work as a Creative City of Gastronomy, we aim to provide more training opportunities for the next generations of culinary arts talent and to ensure the inheritance of local cuisines, such as our unique Macanese cooking. We will also work more closely with local food & beverage operators to improve the sector’s competitiveness, while encourage more cooperation between gastronomy and creative industries. At the same time, we will enhance our collaboration with other cities within the network, and also accelerate local participation towards the goals of the network by capitalizing on the opportunities it opens to our city.”

Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Getachew Engida, remarked in his speech, “Gastronomy is not only an integral part of the city’s cultural identity; it is also a strong driver of its sustainable economic development and social cohesion. The Gastronomy Year will also provide an opportunity for Macao to develop regional and international cooperation with partners both within the Network and beyond, strengthening its reputation as a hub of gastronomy.”

Following the kick-off ceremony, the Macao Gastronomy Carnival was held, with guests visiting the delicacy stalls and tasting an array of local cuisines.

Four-year action plan for forging Macao into a Creative City of Gastronomy
Macao was designated as a new member city of UCCN in the field of Gastronomy on 31 October 2017, having become the third city in China to join UCCN in the field of gastronomy. As pledged on the application, Macao will implement a four-year action plan as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, which includes various initiatives in six categories:

1. Management and supervision mechanism
A management and supervision mechanism will be established and action plans drawn up so as to put into practice relevant measures and project plans and to supervise their implementation.

2. Enhancement of promotion and awareness
Campaigns will be launched both at home and abroad to promote Macao’s status as City of Gastronomy and raise public awareness of UCCN.

3. Education and inheritance
In non-tertiary education, the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau is planning to build a technical-professional training center on plot CN6a at Seac Pai Van reserved for educational purposes and to set up an international cooking area to provide culinary skill training. In higher education, the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT) is preparing for the launch of a culinary center. A database will be established for Macanese cuisine, not only to keep track of its history, recipes and cooking skills, but also to create objective standards and conditions to carry forward the culture and tradition of a gastronomy that boasts a time-honored history of more than 400 years.

4. Exchange and cooperation
Domestically, Macao will strive to strengthen exchange and cooperation with other UNESCO Creative Cities in Mainland China. Internationally, it will actively participate in activities launched by UCCN. Exchange and cooperation will be carried out among universities in Cities of Gastronomy. Macao will participate in the production of websites and promotional activities of Cities of Gastronomy, and organize the International Gastronomy Forum. Macao’s role as “One Centre, One Platform” will be brought into full play to raise awareness of UCCN in Portuguese-speaking countries and encourage Portuguese-speaking countries, especially those in Africa, to join the Network.

5. Support for the development of the local catering industry
Cooperation will be carried out with the local catering and culinary industries to promote career development of chefs. Support will be given to training programs and mega activities. The Macao SAR Government, for example, will continue to provide its support for activities to be held in the region such as the Macau Food Festival, the internationally-renowned Michelin Guide, and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, etc.

6. Cross-field cooperation in the creative industry
Macao will strive to promote and encourage cross-field cooperation in cultural and creative industries. For example, the International Film Festival & Awards・Macao will be enriched with creative elements of gastronomy, while gastronomy will be integrated with design.

Major initiatives of the Macao Year of Gastronomy
The 2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy is one of the highlight projects included in the four-year action plan for forging Macao into a Creative City of Gastronomy, with its major initiatives as follows:  

1. Establish a management and supervisory unit chaired by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture

2. Enhancement of promotion and awareness – Firstly, plan new culinary routes to be included in the “Step Out, Experience Macao’s Communities – Walking Tour Routes”; at the next stage, design tour routes for in-depth culinary experiences, add gastronomic elements in travel roadshows, organize gastronomy-themed activities in major source markets and roll out a variety of promotional projects, etc.  

3. Education and inheritance – promote training and exchange programs together with higher education institutes, catering industry partners and professional organizations; work on building a database for Macanese cuisine, etc.

4. Exchange and cooperation – attend the 12th UNESCO Creative Cities Network Annual Meeting in Poland this June; actively exchange perspectives with other UCCN members and learn from their experiences, facilitate exchange programs between higher education institutes in Macao and fellow Creative Cities of Gastronomy, etc.

5. Support for the development of the local catering industry – support events organized by local associations including Macau Food Festival, Macao Gastronomy Carnival and other culinary contests or interchanges; support industry operators to organize Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 and 2019 in Macao; launch Macao culinary tour packages together with overseas travel agencies and give support to local catering businesses, etc.  

6. Cross-field cooperation in the creative industry – participate in the “Task Group for the Promotion of Gastronomy and Cultural Industries” established by the Committee of Cultural Industries to enhance synergistic effects; invite cultural and creative industry professionals to compose music around the theme; promote integration between gastronomy and other fields, such as the theme of the upcoming Parade for Celebration of Chinese New Year, which encourages performing teams to add ideas or elements of gastronomy to their performances; setting up a gastronomy zone as one of the highlights in the 6th Macao International Tourism (Industry) Expo with demonstration of Macanese dishes; the 3rd International Film Festival & Awards・Macao to feature films of Food Special Presentation, etc.

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