Gozo’s bid to be named Europe’s gastronomical capital in 2026 is on the cusp of success, after an international jury recommended that it be awarded the title.

Malta’s sister island is one of three regions bidding to be named European Region of Gastronomy 2026 by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism (IGCAT).

The other two competing regions are the Greek island of Crete and Kvarnar, a region in Croatia.  

As part of its bid, Gozo has proposed 23 different projects and programmes focused on Gozo’s gastronomic identity to be implemented in the years leading up to 2026.

The Gozitan bid was assessed by a five-person international jury this week, with jurors shown traditional Gozitan life, traditions such as ġbejniet and ftira making and more modern food processes such as tomato processing. They also explored Gozo’s unique cultural heritage sites such as the Ġgantija Temples and the Ta’ Pinu National Shrine.

At the end of their visit, jurors concluded that Gozo  is ideally suited to be awarded the prize.

“The exceptional food and hospitality found in Gozo, the quality of local products, commitment to traditional methods of food production, the culture and indeed harmony of cultures, arts and crafts make Gozo’s application extremely strong,” the jury said following its visit.

It will submit its recommendation of Gozo’s bid to the IGCAT advisory council, and also send Gozitan organisers a list of recommendations.

Jurors sample local food. Photo: Reġjun GħawdexJurors sample local food. Photo: Reġjun Għawdex

The IGCAT advisory council will then take a final decision based on the jury’s recommendation and the Gozo bid’s reply to the jury’s recommendations.

A final decision is expected on June 12.  

Gozo’s bid, which it formally submitted last year, is being coordinated by the Gozo Regional Council and backed by several stakeholders from the public and private sector.

In a statement celebrating the recommendation, the council said the jury decision “is a testament to the island's rich eclectic gastronomic heritage, innovative culinary scene, and unwavering commitment to sustainability.”

Gozo Region president Samuel Azzopardi. Photo: Reġjun GħawdexGozo Region president Samuel Azzopardi. Photo: Reġjun Għawdex

Gozo Region president Samuel Azzopardi said he was delighted by the jury decision and described it as “a testament to our dedication to preserving our culinary traditions, promoting innovation while remaining authentic, and fostering sustainable growth within the gastronomy sector.”

More information about Gozo's bid to be named the European Region of Gastronomy 2026 is available online

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