San Antonio is a crossroads of geography, geology, fauna, civilisations and cultures. Drawn to San Antonio’s river, for 13,000 years. In the 1700s, Spanish colonists introduced new traditions and tastes. Other new flavours, spices and ingredients from Europe, Asia and Africa came with the European settlers in the 1800s, along with new culinary techniques to create a complex fusion and flavour characteristics that make San Antonio’s cuisine distinct. The category of culinary arts, are one of the city’s fastest growing industries, increasing 12% per year, with an economic impact of US$4,3 billion.
San Antonio is taking many steps to support the continued growth of the culinary industry, while preserving its gastronomical heritage and supporting healthy nutrition. Among other initiatives, the Healthy Neighbourhoods programme uses grassroots outreach to help residents address childhood obesity, while the San Antonio Food Bank's Mobile Mercado, a farmer’s market and teaching tool, travels to food deserts to facilitate access to healthy foods. Professional chefs and nutritionists offer demonstrations, teaching participants how to cook with the fresh ingredients, including diabetes-friendly recipes and tips.
The City of San Antonio prioritised urban agriculture with the approval of amendments to the Unified Development Code, which allows urban farmers and gardeners to grow and sell products at the site of their garden or farm. Also, Break Fast & Launch; the country’s first culinary business accelerator, helps entrepreneurs launch sustainable food concepts. Participating entrepreneurs attend a programme hosted by food and beverage artists and owners, as well as product creators and food technology experts. By bridging the gap between start-up and sustainable, this programme increases the footprint of local culinary businesses in San Antonio.
As a Creative City of Gastronomy, San Antonio envisages:
- creating a public-private partnership to create a cultural and arts destination in the heart of downtown, to develop business concepts and activities that interpret San Antonio’s diverse culinary heritage;
- using cultural mapping and oral histories to engage citizens with the concept of conservation, and enabling them to support the preservation of cooking techniques, foods, and recipes handed down from generation to generation;
- developing a series of culinary trails connecting the city’s historic and cultural assets;
- creating a juried film festival featuring food-focused submissions from independent film-makers worldwide;
- pioneering a Chef-in-Residency culinary exchange programme to feature culinary diplomacy master classes or workshops in other Creative Cities; and
- continuing to host symposia and festivals with a focus on the protection and promotion of intangible heritage, including the role culinary heritage plays in tradition, cultural arts, and spiritual life.