The Ark of Taste was born in 1996 on the occasion of the first Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy. A manifesto for the project was written one year later to define the objectives.

In 1999, the Italian Ark Committee was formed to identify product categories and selection criteria. The work done by the Italian Ark was followed by the creation of new commissions in many other countries that got to work cataloguing products. In 2002, at Salone del Gusto, these groups brought their experiences together and an international working group was formed to establish a common set of selection criteria, relevant to the international context.

Where local or national Ark commissions do not exist, nominations go directly to the international Slow Food headquarters to be evaluated. The international office is also responsible for managing the online catalogue.