Birmingham will become the culinary capital of the world next summer after beating Madrid to a coveted food honour.
The city council and Marketing Birmingham have announced that the Délice network of Good Food Cities has voted to select Birmingham as its City Under The Microscope during July 2010.
The official designation, which follows an intense period of lobbying, represents a huge coup for the city and underpins its growing credentials as the young pretender to the world’s established gastronomic centres.
The announcement follows a vote at an international meeting of Délice in Lausanne, Switzerland, attended by representatives from 12 of the 17 member states.
The final decision went to a straight vote between Madrid and Birmingham. The Spanish capital’s eight Michelin-starred restaurants, compared with Birmingham’s three, appeared to put Madrid in an unassailable position.
However, Birmingham’s emerging culinary reputation clinched the decision which will now see Michelin-starred chefs from as many as 12 countries converge on the city.
The event will coincide with Marketing Birmingham’s annual Taste of Birmingham food festival, ensuring a huge boost for the city as it works to increase its profile both nationally and internationally. The Délice and Taste events are due to coincide, taking place from July 16-18, 2010.
During City Under The Microscope, there will be top level meetings between the city’s leading chefs and culinary experts at University College Birmingham, on how the fine dining industry must become more accessible.
Alongside the meetings, world-class chefs from Barcelona, Stavanger, Osaka, Lyon, Brussels, Riga, Leipzig, Madrid, Milan, Genoa and Lausanne will lead workshops with members of the public, demonstrating innovative styles and techniques of cooking.
Andreas Antona, owner of Simpsons Restaurant, in Edgbaston, who has been working closely with the Délice network in Birmingham, said: “It has been clear to me that Birmingham’s reputation has developed over the past few years to become a major player and destination within Europe.
“Part of this exciting transformation has been the coming of age of Birmingham’s dining scene.
“Already proud of its ethnic and cosmopolitan restaurants, it can now boast to be one of the national centres outside of London for fine dining.”
Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “I am delighted to see Birmingham’s reputation for fine dining go from strength to strength. Birmingham has been a proud member of the Délice network for over two years now and as the only UK city to become a founder member we have gained a great deal of both experience and profile.
“As the culinary City Under The Microscope in 2010, I believe our already formidable culinary offer will be enriched even further. I hope all of our participating chefs and restaurants will be able to seize the opportunity to exchange skills and techniques.”
Neil Rami, chief executive at Marketing Birmingham, said: “We are delighted to see such confidence from a world-class group of chefs. It further proves that our work to promote Birmingham as an international food city is receiving plaudits from those at the top of the culinary industry both in Europe and further afield.”