Both the city and the surrounding region is experiencing a revival of interest in traditional and artisanal food products. In Bergen both the regular Farmers market and the annual Food festival serve as vibrant market places where small scale producers meet the general public. Regionally, the County of Hordaland has for many years seen a surge in local food production and interest in gastronomy, as part of a cultural expression and as a regional development driver.
The urban physical environment of Bergen is linked to 1000 years of international seafood trade and culinary history, including the picturesque UNESCO Bryggen wharf , with beautiful, wooden houses from the Hanseatic era.
The last couple of years there has been a surge of high quality and awardwinning restaurants in the region with focus on gastronomic creativity mixed with regional food culture and tradition. The creative gastronomic community gives visitors an insight into the unique way of life of the city region, reflecting the history, quality and natural specialities of the local food producers. Several internationally reknown chefs focus on seafood and work closely with local producers, i.e. outside the City of Bergen you find the Bocuse d’or winner of 2009 at Stord , and the Bocuse d’or winner of 2015 at the Austevoll islands outside.
The Bergen gastronomy sector is an important employment generator, and gives synergy to tourism, culture, fisheries, aquaculture and gastronomy.
The Bergen region has a range of private and public gastronomic initiatives, involving NGO’s, food producers, creators, academia and the civic society. For example, Slow Food has several active local conviviums in the Bergen region. Another notable and fast growing grass root initiative is Sustainable Living (“Bærekraftig liv”).
The many gastronomy organisations are active at local events and international exchanges, supporting the creative actors and raising their professional status Bergen also hosts some of the largest marine science environments in Europe, with a special focus upon seafood and health issues.
BERGENS MEMBERSHIP IN THE UNESCO CREATIVE CITIES OF GASTRONOMY NETWORK
Bergen was accepted as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2015. Bergen is one of 49 cities in this network designated «Creative City of Gastronomy».
The main objective is that the cities co-operate and share best practices regarding how local food, creativity and gastronomy may be a driver for sustainable urban development. Other cities in the same network include Parma (Italy), Phuket (Thailand) and Chengdu (China).
The UNESCO collaboration network consists of in total 295 cities, covering not just gastronomy, but also music, film, literature, crafts & folk art, media arts and design.
Responsibility for the supervision of Bergen’s UNESCO membership is shared by the Municipality of Bergen, Hordaland County Council, the County Governor, as well as various other actors representing the region’s «farm-to-table» and fjord traditions. The membership includes the entire region around Bergen and aims to build on tradition and development within local food production, grass root movements and creative gastronomy. In contrast to the traditional prevailing «protected status», this UNESCO network is also future-oriented and encourages its cities to be creative on a local level and to look for international opportunities for co-operation.