At the Pārceltuve Festival, held on beginning of August in Līgatne, eight Latvian chefs joined the international Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance.
Since the opening of the Straupe Earth Market in 2016, Latvia’s local Slow Food network has been widening to engage not only producers, but also the chefs who use local and seasonal produce in their restaurants. Last year at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, Ēriks Dreibants became the first Latvian chef to present a Taste Workshop focusing on a Latvian Ark of Taste product—Carnikava lamprey. Now this year’s Pārceltuve Festival, a celebration organized annually by Dreibants and chef Mārtiņš Sirmais in cooperation with the Līgatne Culture and Tourism Center, paid special attention to Slow Food and marked Latvia’s official entry into the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance.
The festival was a hive of activity with chefs busily preparing a wide variety of dishes, drinks and treats. Cooks and guests joined together for the launch of the Alliance, where they were welcomed by renowned Latvian chef Mārtiņš Rītiņš, the Riga Convivium leader and one of the first people to bring the Slow Food movement to the country. They also heard from Dreibants, who said, “I am delighted that the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance has brought together Latvian chefs with very different experiences and world views, all united by the idea of good food and the importance of highlighting Latvia’s unique flavors by working in close cooperation with Slow Food farmers.”
Producers and craftspeople from the Straupe Earth Market also participated in the festival, their stands well stocked with local foods and crafts. “We are very glad that our community’s work has paid off,” said Astride Rosite, one of the organizers of the Straupe Earth Market and the Straupe Convivium leader. “Slow Food has gained fame in Latvia and our Earth Market has gained fame well beyond Latvia’s borders. Today, the market welcomes guests from many countries of the world who are interested in our gastronomic and cultural heritage. And the launch of the Latvian Cooks’ Alliance is further proof of the fact that the market promotes social relationships and brings together farmers, producers and cooks. Farmers produce clean and fair products, and cooks have the power to enhance and enrich the flavor and fragrance of these products, creating new taste sensations.”
In the evening the celebration continued along a long table at the restaurant’s cultural center. Chefs Mārtiņš Sirmais, Ēriks Dreibants, Juris Dukaļskis and Artūrs Trinkuns and their team brought rounds of dishes to the table as Hardijs Vents, the head of the Pārgaujas district, welcomed the guests and organizers, stressing the importance of the festival, emphasizing the role of cooks and expressing hope for the further development of Slow Food in the region.
“It was a heartfelt joy to meet you all at the Pārceltuve Festival and the launch of the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance. Thank you for taking the time and being here,” Dana Gritāne, coordinator of the Latvian Cooks’ Alliance told the chefs. “Let this be an opportunity for us to come together, to support our small-scale local producers and farmers, as we can do more together than alone.”