The Italian Academy of Cuisine aims to safeguard Italian culinary traditions and promote their improvement in Italy and abroad. This assumes two concrete forms: first, studying the various phenomena related to cuisine through reflection, publications and conferences; and second, monitoring restaurants which offer good Italian food. This duty, assigned to the Delegations, has also given rise to a free online guide.
International Delegations are also tasked with defending the straightforward character of Italian cooking through the use of the right ingredients, avoiding distortions and extravagant affectations.
Please note: ours is the Italian Academy of Cuisine rather than the Academy of Italian Cuisine. This difference is not negligible. There is, in reality, no unified Italian or even regional cuisine. Ours is a territorial cuisine: by travelling only a few kilometres, one finds different recipes and traditions. The Academy is occasionally accused of calcifying cuisine for having registered some traditional recipes, but that is done only to preserve our historical heritage, and assuredly not implying that everyone must slavishly follow these recipes.
The Italian Academy of Cuisine favours improvements and intelligent innovations, because tradition is the sum of successful innovations, and the point is precisely to defend the results of those innovations which rightly earn their place within tradition.
Finally, a word on exalted celebrity chefs. We are not won over by the dicta of today’s most revered kitchens. Let us admit it: it’s not easy to eat well in the grand restaurants venerated by critics: much conceit, absurd inventions, grotesque combinations, haughty service and astronomical prices. Many young talents suffer because restaurant guides overlook them, they lack the right sponsors, their profits lag, they do not emerge, they have no PR office, they are insufficiently innovative.
The Academy must help these promising representatives of good, real Italian cuisine. We can, indeed should, sample the offerings of the grand masters, but ultimately what matters is the cumulative quality of the restaurant sector.
After 65 years, the Academy faces a substantial challenge: protecting real, modern and even innovative cuisine. But let it taste good!