Situated in the southern region of Turkey, at the heart of the Amik valley, the Metropolitan City of Hatay acknowledges a multicultural identity inherited from its location on the ancient Silk Road. Hatay served as the opening gate for the Silk Road to the Mediterranean and has been the centre of spice trade for centuries. It is said that 13 world civilizations have influenced and shaped its gastronomic identity with cuisines from the Middle East, Anatolia and the Mediterranean. With its mild climate, the region encompasses an extremely rich flora, allowing for the growth of medicinal and aromatic plants, an industry which now provides 60% of Hatay’s GDP.
Hatay City Council co-organises, along with associations and NGOs, many gastronomy themed festivals and events to promote the diverse local food culture and agriculture, including the Hatay Agriculture Fair and the Hatay Künefe Festival. Considering gastronomy as a tool for social inclusion, the city undertakes several initiatives to empower women by creating new employment opportunities. In addition, with the strong support of the Municipality, the Down Café was established in 2016 to create socially inclusive employment, with all employees being people with disabilities and volunteer mothers.
The Metropolitan Municipality undertakes a series of policies and strategies to further protect and promote the diverse food culture, as well as the rich flora through farming incentives and microcredits. It supports specialised organisations such as the Hatay Cooks and Confectioners Society which focuses on healthy nutrition, organic agriculture and food safety. The city also promotes trainings for farmers in horticultural therapy, permaculture, high tech farming and biodiversity, in order to raise awareness about sustainable food systems.
As a Creative City of Gastronomy, Hatay envisages:
- establishing an agri-food park driven by a community of farmers, women, suppliers, retailers, in order to increase professional opportunities in the gastronomy field;
- holding the Food Academy, which will provide knowledge transfer, cooperative opportunities and certification programmes for chefs and professionals;
- forming collaborations with chefs and students of gastronomy-related fields from other Creative Cities through the Hatay Food project and the Food Academy;
- organising the World Gastronomy Culinary Exposition; a cross-cutting event featuring other UCCN cities; and
- empowering refugee women and children through mentoring and training in agri-food and gastronomy-related businesses