Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2014c

FOOD + POLITICS = Gastrodiplomacy


It consist on enhancing unique heritage food, shared among states and non-states actors. It not only shares states typical dishes but also, expressing the culture and its values. It is also an important way of practicing soft power which can, therefore lead to increase trade, economic investment and tourism.

Gastrodiplomacy is essentially a subfield of cultural public diplomacy that was first mainstreamed and perfected by Thailand through their 2002 “Global Thai Program [1].

Thailand’s main purposes was to spreads the culture and heritage earned from the past over countries and different generations by offering them, blend of tastes, nutritional value, seasonings and cooking charms. At the same time, improving states’ capabilities and reflecting culture on economic growth. Thai program’s aim was also to raise the number of restaurants worldwide, which has almost double in quantity although keeping its quality and mores.

A great comparison of soft power can be agreed to Joseph Nye concept when he refers to soft power being used through ‘carrot and sticks’, which literately are used on the gastrodiplomacy and international relations, not just over individuals but also over states, where its power of persuasion brings people and cultures together. [2]

It is interesting the perception of a French Chef Chef Loïc Dablé, with inherence in Africa’s cuisine trying to implement the very common ‘fish and chips’ in England, although only using African ingredients. It comes from breadcrumbs made of ‘cassava’ flour (bread of the tropics, introduced to African through Portuguese traders in the 16th century) and also by using African fishes only. According to the chef, it makes the food more attractive and better known in the European market. Another example it is the raise of the Peruvian culture among French cuisine and specialities, where a Peruvian Chef Gastón Acurio, (see here) and ambassador of the cuisine, has worked over two decades towards improvements and sees gastrodiplomacy as way to promote tourism and introduce Peruvian’s cuisine among states. It would not be possible without the support of the French government to better popularise it, of which still considered the best cuisine nowadays. [3] 

Japan also, in order to  promote their cuisine globally has ‘seasoned’ it early in the 1950’s and encouraged legislation over Japanese ‘Natural Cultural Treasure’. The Japanese intentions of recognising its practices and preserves heritage was seen of an influential policy-maker by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisations . (UNESCO). Ever since, UNESCO also adopted a Convention Concerning the Protection of the World and UNESCO’s designation of cultural and natural heritage sites have become increasingly significant in many nations’ strivings for status and prestige (and tourist revenue). As of December 2013, UNESCO has designated 981 World Heritage Sites across the globe (759 cultural sites; 193 natural; and 29 mixed; across 160 states). Seventeen of these are Japanese, including the recently added Mt. Fuji in 2013.

washokuThe washoku or ‘’Japanese Cuisine’’  has recently been included on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Cuisine list – a privileged formerly reserved for French Cuisine. [4] Where it includes chefs from worldwide in a meeting, to understand better and exchange ideas and knowledge. In Britain, the first restaurant to introduce the washoku ideas was in Nottingham, by the British chef Michelin, after it success of flavours, he came back to Japan to learn and improve his knowledge on the hague cuisine which mixes tiny courses, again well flavoured as the Japanese Cuisine, although mixed with sweet and sour flavours, balanced on its contents, proteins, and cutting the salt and fat its their main aim. A healthier dash (stock made with dried kelp and bonito flakes)[5] makes part of its great mix in a broth. The English based chef Jozef Youssef, who’s a specialist of food, sees the Japanese cultural heritage as an amazing technique on exploring food, he says, “They are taught to bring out the essence of an ingredient. It seems very simple, but some of the methods are quite complicated. They use colour, texture, scent and presentation to enhance the diner’s sense of seasonality and transience.” [6] It is great the importance of the Japanese cultural aspects when it refers to quality, and the way its seen and respected by others. The Japanese ambassador from England, noted a diversity of implications when cooking outside Japan, and specialised it way of growing and picking Japanese ingredients in order to get results and flavours as the vegetables and seasonings grew in their homeland. And the knowledge was only gathered by studying and practicing the making and theory by going to Japan.

Gastrodiplomacy has the power of influence, using food and not only for politics but in order to foster countries, it providing creativity and public relations. The gastrodiplomacy encourages the expertise of the chef to tells the history of a country.


[1] Rockower, Paul. “The Gastrodiplomacy Cookbook.” The Huffington Post. September 14, 2010

[2] Joseph Nye (2011)ICD – Academy for Cultural Diplomacy. Available t < > Last seen on 14th of May 2015

[3] The Telegraph (2010) UNESCO declares French cuisine ‘world intangible heritage’. [online] Available at < > Last seen on 13th May 2015

[4] Sybil Kapoor (2014) Japanese Cuisine: how washoku is taking over Britain | Life and Style | The Guardian. [online] Available at: < > Last seen on 14th of May 2015

[5] Just One Cook Cookbook (2011) How To Make a Dashi. [online] Available at < > Last seen on 14th of May 2015

[6] Sybil Kapoor (2014) Japanese Cuisine: how washoku is taking over Britain | Life and Style | The Guardian. [online] Available at: < > Last seen on 14th of May 2015

  • France 24 (2014) Gastrodiplomacy : is French food losing its flair? . Available at < > last seen 13th of May 2015


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