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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 9: The recognition of Kuching as a Creative City of Gastronomy under Unesco Creative Cities Network (UCCN) is set to open up many new avenues and opportunities socially and economically for the city locally and internationally.
Culinary Heritage and Arts Society Sarawak (CHASS) chairwoman Datin Dona Drury-Wee, who has hailed the inclusion of Kuching as a city of gastronomy under the UCCN, emphasised that the broad coalition of stakeholders will now have to start working on its four-year action plan.
“We were elated to receive the news late last night (Nov 8). We are very proud of Kuching as this designation will open up many new avenues locally and internationally as Kuching is pushed to the forefront of gastronomy.
“The tour operators can also now include more gastronomical tours and part of the objectives is also to bring education and better opportunities for local communities to thrive in gastronomy from farm to table,” she told DayakDaily when contacted today.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today announced that Kuching is now a Unesco Creative City of Gastronomy with the city being the first in Malaysia to join some 36 cities around the world to be recognised under UCCN for its food heritage and diversity.
With the ball starting to roll, Drury-Wee pointed out the stakeholders have to now work hard towards attaining the goals set in their action plans in promoting and protecting Sarawak’s food culture and heritage.
In the action plan submitted, she shared, Kuching South City Council (MBKS) has proposed the setting up of a gastronomy centre in Kuching, similar to the concept of a handicraft centre, that will feature not only the diversity of Sarawak’s delicacies, its long legacy of food culture and heritage but also serves as an information centre for tourists.
Apart from that, the plan also covers education in which the stakeholders will be working with local universities and other associations such as Kuching Chefs Association to provide greater education opportunities especially for the lower income group.
“Winning is the easy part and now we have to work and show our commitment and efforts to keep our action plans and objectives as Kuching and Sarawak will be subjected to a review every four years from Unesco,” Drury-Wee said.
With this unique distinction, Kuching and Sarawak as a whole will need to demonstrate and reflect that there is inclusivity and continuity of the food culture where knowledge, skills and traditional practices are transmitted from one generation to the next.
Sarawak’s bid to get Kuching recognised as a city of gastronomy was led by MBKS and Kuching North City Hall (DBKU) which were backed by a broad coalition of Sarawak stakeholders, including CHASS, Society Atelier Sarawak, food professionals and their respective associations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), entrepreneurs, food researchers and scientists, artisans, educationalists, smallholders and agriculture specialists.
The application was submitted on June 30 after extensive planning and preparations that took some nine months involving a wide base of stakeholders.
Introduced by Unesco in 2004, the UCCN initiative aims to foster innovation and creativity as a driver towards a sustainable and inclusive city.
There are currently 246 cities that make up this network which aim to work together towards a common objective of placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level. — DayakDaily