It’s not just the Italian wine industry that promotes the country’s many culinary products. Other countries have a great respect for the delicacies that Italy brings to the world, which has led to the creation of several organizations dedicated to celebrating great Italian wine and food. These organizations promote great Italian products just as well as the Italians do, though they also bring them to wider audiences than chefs and winemakers may have otherwise reached.
Today, we are going to look at one such organization. Based in the United States, The Italian Wine and Food Institute promotes Italian culinary excellence throughout the country, bringing a touch of Italian class to the United States in the process.
The Italian Wine and Food Institute came into being in 1983, when it was founded as a non-profit organization with the intention of promoting Italian cuisine and wine throughout the United States. From its headquarters in New York, the institute works to protect and promote the image that many people have in their minds when they think of Italian cuisine. This means they focus on demonstrating the level of prestige attached to great Italian foods and wines, enhancing the cultural imagery that surrounds Italy in the process.
So, how does it go about doing this? One of the Institute’s main functions is the creation of exciting educational and promotional events that showcase some of the best that Italy has to offer to people who may not have come across it before. In doing so, it acts as something of a public relations organization, with a focus on great Italian cuisine. The goal is to educate American consumers on the quality of Italian food and wine, thus opening the door for even more distributors to make headway in the country.
These promotional activities take in much more than the man on the street. The institute wants to focus on some of the key decision makers in the American food industry. As such, many of the organization’s events focus on providing information to those in the media, and distributors at all levels of the food industry. Beyond that, the institute also holds events that appeal to some of the leading opinion makers in the country, such as food critics, and a select group of qualified consumers.
These events also take several forms. Among the promotional activities that The Italian Wine and Food Institute hold or endorse are:
- Seminars and tasting sessions that provide attendees with more information about the foods and wines highlighted during the events.
- Participation in events held by other organizations.
- Interviews with the food press on television, radio, and in the print media. These three combined form the backbone of the organization’s public relations strategy.
- Creating market research reports.
- Constant communication with Italian authorities, which helps the institute maintain its very high standards.
- The monthly publication of the NOTIZIARIO newsletter, which informs readers of the institute’s upcoming events while providing more information about Italian cuisine.
The most prestigious of the institute’s events is Gala Italia, which it has held every year since the inaugural event in 1985. Conducted under the auspices of the Italian embassies, the event draws some of the leading Italian food and wine traders, in addition to a host of journalists, celebrities, fashion icons, and other VIPs.
The event has become one of the most highly anticipated on the American culinary calendar, as it offers some of the leading names in the culinary industry to mingle with one another. The event itself focuses on even more than food and wine. It also hosts examples of Italian design and artwork, in addition to music, and fashion. Since the Gala Italia’s founding, it has been held in some of the most beautiful cities in the world. Prague, Berlin, and Milan have all played host to it at one point or another.
Other initiatives include the creation of the “Made in Italy” label, which the institute awards to any quality products that trace their makings back to the country that institute celebrates. This label also helps to ease the fears of consumers by assuring them that the products they buy really do come from Italy.
Finally, the institute has also published a book. Succinctly titled “Italian Cuisine”, the book examines some of the most famous gastronomical delights to emerge from Italy. This, along with the many pamphlets and booklets the organization distributes, help to educate readers in regards to what they should expect from true Italian products.
Dr. Lucio Caputo
It is worth placing some of the focus of this article on one Dr. Lucio Caputo, who has been an instrumental part of The Italian Wine and Food Institute’s puzzle for over 20 years. It was he who spearheaded the efforts to introduce the “Made in Italy” label, both during his time as the Italian Trade Commissioner and in his later role as the President of the institute.
A nominee for Italy’s Cavaliere di Gran Croce honour, Dr. Caputo is also the president of several other groups that focus on the joys of Italy and its cuisine. These include the Italian Representative Group, the European Wine Council, and the American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit.
Working with the Institute
Those who work within the Italian wine and food industries, whether that be in the United States or from further afield, can benefit greatly from working with The Italian Wine and Food Institute.
Many choose to showcase their wares at the famed Gala Italia event, which allows them to gain even more exposure that they might otherwise have found. The institute offers the opportunity to attend via its website, but exhibitors will have to meet some fairly strict standards if they are to be allowed into the event.
Those with more general questions can direct their enquiries to the organization’s New York offices, which are located at One Grand Central Place, 60 East 42nd Street, Suite 2214, New York, NY 10165. The institute also hosts a website at iwfinews.com, where it fields enquiries.