The first annual Mediterranean Cooking Congress offered chefs from eight Mediterranean nations the opportunity to explore the roots of their cooking heritage. Twenty-eight chefs spent two days aboard the Tirrenia vessel Raffaele Rubattino in Naples preparing recipes passed down from their ancestors and combining techniques unique to their countries.
The Congress also brought the chance to dig deeper into the origins of modern Mediterranean cuisine. Chefs and students alike took time to explore how each culture has influenced today’s popular Mediterranean dishes.
The idea for the event came to organizer, Luisa del Sorbo, upon noticing the lack of consistency in the preparation of traditional dishes from nation to nation. She felt that bringing chefs from the various Mediterranean nations together — both to exchange techniques and to unearth traditional preparation methods — would bring back the lost consistency while diversifying the cuisine at the same time.
Italian chef, Francesco Fichera, one of the chefs aboard for the Congress, reported that studying primordial Mediterranean cuisine on board the Tirrenia inspired him to prepare ancient dishes for his part in the event. Selections such as ‘Garum,’ the first recipe for Roman seasoning, were cooked over a fire in the fashion of Fichera’s ancestors.
Both Portuguese chef, Jorge Fernandes, and Spanish chef, Carlos Peña, agreed that the Congress was an invaluable opportunity to exchange experiences with other chefs while displaying and developing each chef’s own skills. Fernandes noted that, as cuisine becomes a driving force behind Mediterranean tourism, it is advantageous for chefs to work together to improve and unify the cuisine experience throughout the nations.
After the success of the first Congress, the second annual Mediterranean Cooking Congress was announced to take place in Opatija, Croatia, in October 2015.