Gastronomic tourism in the Arctic requires joint efforts of northern regions and state support
Participants of the Northern Cuisine Gastronomic Festival, held in Moscow on December 10-11 within Russia's chairmanship framework in the Arctic Council in 2021-2023, discussed close relationship between food industry and Arctic tourism. Besides business sessions, a large-scale show program was held at the festival, featuring the best chefs from Russia's nine Arctic regions and the Arctic Council member countries.
This festival's business program brought together heads of Arctic regions, representatives of the Arctic Council and indigenous peoples of the Arctic, diplomatic missions, as well as heads of NGOs and promoters of northern cuisine, restaurateurs, and tour operators. It was noted by participants that the positive dynamics of tourist flow to the Arctic depends directly on preserving indigenous peoples' traditional food culture, introducing a menu of local products into catering establishments, and creating favorable conditions for small and medium-sized businesses development in the catering sector. Arctic regions need systemic support from authorities in all these areas, which will contribute to the northern territory’s economic development, where tourism has great potential.
As Alexei Chekunkov, Minister for Russian Far East, and Arctic Development noted at the festival's opening: Russia is a northern power. I think we know better than anyone else in the world how to live in the North, we love it. We can and love to cook northern cuisine. Our Arctic is also very powerful. The people strength that inhabits it. It's an amazing sense of people, who understand they live in conditions that look impossible sometimes for many others in the world.
International cooperation prospects of people of the North were discussed at a session dedicated to the current Arctic Council project, EALLU, Indigenous Youth, Food Culture, and Change in the Arctic. Representatives from Chukotka, Canada, Alaska, and Norway took part in the discussion, which looked at Arctic cuisine specifics in different countries, extraction issues and fish and venison processing, as well as social adaptation of younger generation.
It was noted that an EALLU project is designed to support Arctic youth so that they do not get lost in the flow of globalization and continue work of their ancestors, preserving centuries-old original traditions including food culture based on unique natural resources of the North. To do this, we need to work together to develop Arctic economy by integrating traditional knowledge and modern technology into the food and tourism industries.
Nikolai Korchunov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Chairman of the Senior Arctic Council Committee emphasized that intergovernmental, non-governmental and other associations will assist the people of the North in this direction.
We have to be creative, innovative, introduce tools to support producers representing indigenous peoples of the North, to create additional value in product chains they make in harsh conditions. It is important to create opportunities for local producers to cooperate with large companies and export their food products that are organic, environmentally friendly, and healthy. To engage small and medium enterprises, involved in local products manufacturing, Russia initiated the first international conference of Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations of the Arctic regions, which will take place next year. We are planning to expand our work with entrepreneurs - said Nikolai Korchunov.
Russia offers Norway, the U.S. and China to implement a pilot project to use the Northern Sea Route to bring products of traditional Arctic industries to international markets as part of EALLU project. Russia is also ready to cooperate with the Arctic countries in such areas as product deep processing, marketing and sales, use of Internet technologies, digitalization, support of education and indigenous peoples traditional medicine, development of creative industries for economic diversification and local communities. Murmansk region, which was the first in the country to organize festivals of Arctic cuisine in conjunction with the Gastronomic Map of Russia project, attracting attention not only of visitors but also residents, was given special attention in the business program.
Stanislav Pesotsky, chef, and popularizer of New Nordic cuisine presented several successful projects for Arctic cuisine development. He spoke about Under Arctic gastrocamp in Murmansk and the gastronomic festival North in Norilsk.
«Each region is special; it has its own identity and unique products. We need to see them, be proud and show them to the world. At the same time, different seasons offer a limitless field of activity, as the change of seasons gives a constant turnover of events, products and dishes that do not get boring. So, if restaurants start to work with local suppliers, this will set off a chain reaction in the economic sense and movement towards Russian gastronomy will begin - stressed Stanislav Pesotsky.
The author-methodologist of Gastronomic Map of Russia federal project Ekaterina Shapovalova drew attention to the fact that successful Arctic cuisine development based on local products requires state-level support - for chefs, regional public catering institutions and ingredients producers for HoReCa, which are mostly small businesses. We need systemic support to form an industry of regional product manufacturing and ready-made solutions for Arctic cuisine so, it should be profitable for entrepreneurs to open national style restaurants.
Another key area of gastronomic tourism development is branding which can be a tool for Arctic cuisine popularization. And along with local regional trademarks, it is important to develop a Made in the Arctic brand by joining efforts. It is important that Arctic zone regions start to unite, conclude an agreement, give consent to create cross-regional and cross-departmental groups, which should include federal ministers of industry and trade, agriculture and the Federal Agency for Tourism - noted Ekaterina Shapovalova.
In Moscow, along with a business program, a gastronomic show was organized at the festival to promote Arctic cuisine - a culinary online marathon with chefs from the Arctic regions of Russia and the Arctic Council member states, master classes, as well as Chef Versus ICE Battle.
Andrei Anikiev, chef of Roomi restaurant in Arkhangelsk, and Evgeny Barannikov, brand-chef of Bellini group from Krasnoyarsk, prepared peppers stuffed with venison and spices, oyster sauce and deer heart as part of the battle. The second pair, Kirill Volovik from Hotel Chukotka and Alexander Yermolin from the Timan Restaurant and Museum in Naryan-Mar, baked salmon with mushrooms and cloudberry sauce. Based on audience's tasting, the first pair of chefs won.
In the main battle, two chef-bloggers came together. A combination of venison and nelma, traditional ingredients in the Arctic, has been the main feature of their Surf & Turf style dishes. The president of the Chef Team Russia culinary community and Hochland Professional brand-chef Nikolay Sarychev cooked venison tartare with nelma espuma, boron crumble, crab and Ryabushka caviar. Sergey Sinitsyn, who is a culinary expert of the First channel and international judge of WACS, presented to a tasting participants ceviche from fish and venison with smoked salt, oyster sauce, Borodino crumb and freeze-dried raspberries. The battle resulted in a tie.
There is no doubt about gastronomic tourism interest in the Arctic will grow, guests would like to come to us because, people living in the Far North very hospitable, we seek to unite everyone, we are the heart of Russia, we are even geographically located in the center. Also, our Arctic is very interesting: distant regions, untouched stories, we cook very tasty, healthy food, said one of the show program participants, chef Evgeny Alfan from Aurora restaurant in Yakutsk.
The festival was initiated by the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Roscongress Foundation is the operator of Russian Arctic Council Chairmanship events.