The Trump administration announced today that the US is withdrawing from UNESCO, the cultural organization of the United Nations. What does that mean for Tucson, a recognized UNESCO City of Gastronomy?
Not much, says Tucson's nonprofit City of Gastronomy board. Our designation draws its power from its collaborations with other UNESCO-designated cities, and that's not about to change anytime soon.
"What we're hearing from other cities (in the network), is it's about working city to city, continuing the collaboration ... We're working together," says Felipe Garcia, Executive Vice President of Visit Tucson.
Garcia and colleagues the nonprofit Tucson City of Gastronomy board were encouraged by a positive statement today from Irina Bokova, UNESCO's director general, expressing the need to work collaboratively despite the actions of the US government.
"I believe UNESCO’s work to advance literacy and quality education is shared by the American people," she said, in a series of pronouncements about our common interests. Bokova also mentioned that the organization has "deepened the partnership" with the US despite its failure to pay organizational dues since 2011.
Tucson was inducted into the UNESCO's Creative Cities Network in 2015 as a recognized City of Gastronomy, becoming the first and only city in the United States to earn the distinction. The gastronomy title put our food scene in the national spotlight, and led to several profiles in media outlets such as USA Today and the New York Times.
With funding attained through City of Gastronomy fundraiser events, local chefs have also made international outreach trips to showcase Tucson's food across the world. Most recently The Parish's chef Travis Peters traveled to sister city of gastronomy Dénia, Spain and prepared shrimp tacos with Sonoran wheat flour tortillas and pickled cholla buds at a Spanish food festival.
Garcia said that the nonprofit Gastronomy board is currently putting together a roster of local chefs that can represent Tucson in sister cities around the world. The board is also looking to bring in a chef from Belém, Brazil to cook in Tucson later this winter.