Achievement in Food & Dining

Carlo Petrni of Slow Food

Born in Bra, Italy, on June 22 1949, Carlo Petrini studied sociology at Trento University and then became involved in local politics and association work. He began to write about food and wine in 1977, contributing to major Italian newspapers and periodicals. He also began to devise and organize cultural events. In the early 1980s Petrini laid the foundations for Arcigola, an association whose aim was to promote the culture of conviviality and good food and wine and which eventually developed into the Slow Food movement. On December 9 1989, at the Opéra Comique in Paris, the Slow Food Manifesto was signed by over twenty delegations from around the world, and Petrini was elected president, an office he still holds today.

Blessed with a knack of anticipating events in the fields of food, agriculture and eco-gastronomy (a term he coined himself), Petrini has played a decisive role in the development of Slow Food, inventing and promoting its projects, which have now acquired great international visibility. Among his many achievements is the creation of the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo and Colorno, the first academic institution to offer an interdisciplinary approach to food studies; he is also the mastermind behind Terra Madre, a groundbreaking meeting of 5,000 food producers from all over the world, held every two years in Turin to discuss common problems and find possible solutions.

As a journalist he has written for many important daily national newspapers such as Il Manifesto and later for La Stampa. Today he contributes regularly to La Repubblica (a member of the L'Espresso group). In his articles he discusses themes such as sustainable development, material culture, gastronomy, and the relationship between food and the environment.

The publications which Petrini has encouraged through the Slow Food Editore publishing company have received major accolades. In the United States, the Italian Wines guide has won the IACP - International Cook Book Award as best book in the 'wine and spirit' category, while the Slow journal won the prize for best design at the prestigious Utne Reader Alternative Press Awards in 2001. In 2003 the journal also won the coveted Jacob’s Creek Gold ‘Ladle’ for best international gastronomy periodical in Adelaide, Australia.

His latest work entitled Buon, pulito e giusto. Principi di nuova gastronomia was published in Italy by Einaudi in 2005 and translated into English as Slow Food Nation and published by Rizzoli USA in 2007. In the book Petrini traces the theoretical development of 'ecogastronomy'. The book has also been translated into French, Spanish, German and Polish. In 2001, his book Le ragioni del gusto was published by Laterza, and translated into English as The Case for Taste and published by Columbia University Press in 2003.

The depth of Carlo Petrini's theoretical analysis on the sustainability of food and agriculture in relationship to gastronomy has been acknowledged by the academic world. In 2003, l'Istituto Universitario Suor Orsola Benincasa of Naples conferred on him an honorary degree in Cultural Anthropology, and in May 2006 he received an honorary degree in Human Letters from the University of New Hampshire (USA) for his achievements as a ‘revolutionary precursor [and] founder of the University of Gastronomic Sciences. His Slow Food association has awakened the world’s interest in gastronomic and agricultural biodiversity.’

His skills as a communicator and the originality and importance of his message, implemented through Slow Food projects round the world, have aroused the interest of international opinion leaders and media. In 2004 he was named a 'European Hero' by Time magazine, and in January 2008 he was the only Italian to appear in the list of ‘50 People Who Could Save the
World’ drawn up by the prestigious British newspaper The Guardian.