The Network was founded in April 2012 by the Tourist Association of Ivano-Frankivsk Region (Ukraine), Executive Committee of Ivano-Frankivsk city council (Ukraine), Association “Ecologic” (Romania), Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Satu Mare county (Romania), Kosice regional branch of Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Slovakia), Szamos-bazar Association (Hungary) in the frames of the project implementation «Carpathian Culinary Heritage Network» funded by the European Union within Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine ENPI Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013.

The Network is an informal international organization providing cross-brooder cooperation between neighboring countries and regions. The Network is open for regions, organizations and individuals to join. The decision by the founding organizations to establish the Network was influenced by the following conditions:

  1. Carpathian food and gastronomy products, particularly in terms of their culture, identity and means of sustainable production, can contribute a lot to cultural heritage protection, biodiversity preservation, socio cultural development and rural poverty reduction in the region.
  2. The traditions, know-how and skills are often handed down from generation to generation. This specific quality provides a product with the potential to play a role in a sustainable development process, and can turn latent local resources into active assets.
  3. The main threats to development of the Carpathian origin quality are external pressures and the lack of coordination among local stakeholders. Market globalization and new technologies may endanger the specific features of traditional farming systems and processing techniques.
  4. Traditional food and gastronomy sector in the Carpathian regions embraces dozens of rural communities and encompasses small farms, traditional type restaurants like shepherd’s huts, rural homes and guesthouses, local inbound tour operators and agents, local guides, traditional shops and community visitor centers, rural museums and many other businesses. This private sector together with culinary colleges and schools at present are the main custodians of the culinary heritage secrets and act as instructors to pass this traditional knowledge on to future generations.
  5. Gradually distorted people’s way of thinking about food market; many traditional foods were lost due to the introduction of standardized production and wholesale market buying. Availability of half made food and fast food is very popular in the present days even in rural areas, as a result many families are losing traditional cooking skills and knowledge of the family cooking meals.
  6. Traditional cooking is not being handed down within the family, many younger people are not aware of their local foods.
  7. The rural value chain for many food products is undeveloped or weak, thus they are limited to selling to local outlets and restaurants. Furthermore, many food producers, leaving the tourists outside their scope of interest, are prioritizing the local population as their main consumer.
  8. Local food is not by itself a representation of local culture but is an integral part that in combination with a range of other factors makes the territory or location attractive for visitors.
  9. Cuisine is the only art form that speaks to all five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch). Introducing various Carpathian cuisines into the local menus (national Ukrainian, Romanian, Hungarian or Slovakian dishes etc.) will make them more attractive. This type of clustering scheme can bring extra cooperation and commercial benefits to all parties.
  10. The Network target regions have their own unique cultural identity as the part of the Carpathian traditional culture with the shared history, diversity of cultures and culinary traditions. Four ingredient Carpathian cultures (Ukrainian, Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian) are networked within the Carpathian heritage umbrella and jointly promoted. The Network itself will welcome other Carpathian communities from other regions to join and will create a model of cross-border neighboring cooperation.