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EAT Vancouver Culinary Travel Expo: A Cornucopia Of Cuisines

Hundreds attend culinary travel fair at B.C. place throughout the weekend
05-28-2013  By: Amanda Stutt
At left, Cesar Mendoza, director, Western Canada, Mexico Tourism Board, Richard Zarkin, public relations manger, Riviera Nayarit, at centre, Puglia Chef Frank Abbiata, at right, Sandra Sallovitz, director, Destinos Latin Travel and Carina Valicati gourmet & wine corrdinator, Argentina Tourism Board.

The Vancouver EAT's Culinary Travel Expo attracted hundreds of visitors at the B.C. Place Stadium over the weekend, and attendees experienced a cornucopia of international cuisines.

This year, the emphasis was on culinary travel, and the three-day long event was attended by tourist board representatives from Argentina, Italy, India, Mexico, China, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as tour operator Intrepid Travel and wholesaler Adventure Center.


As the festivities kicked off, HelloWestTravel.com was on hand for an exclusive dinner event hosted by Italy's La Regione Puglia at the Law Courts Inn dining room on Friday night that showcased the region's gastronomy. 
Fabrizio Inserra, consul general of Italy, Vancouver & Vito Bruno, president, federation of Pugliese club of B.C.
Fabrizio Inserra, consul general of Italy, Vancouver & Vito Bruno, president, federation of Pugliese club of B.C.

As well as a strong showing of local travel agents, the dinner was also attended by dignitaries such as Fabrizio Inserra, Consul General of the Republic of Italy, MLA-elect for Burnaby North Richard Lee and Giovanni Mariela, VP, General Council of Apulians Abroad.

The governor of Puglia addressed the guests in Italian via video, and a representative from Christy Clark's office read a written statement from the Premier, who referred to Puglia as 'the pearl of Italy’s boot.' 

Vito Bruno, president, Federation of Puguliese in B.C., served as master of ceremonies, introducing Fabrizio Inserra.

"Puglia is a microcosm of the best of the region and Italy's cultural heritage," said Inserra.

On Saturday, HelloWestTravel.com then caught up with Claudia Laricchia, spokesperson for the Pugliese regional government, to hear more about the region's touristic offerings.

Claudia Laricchia, Puglias Viluppo
Claudia Laricchia, Puglias Viluppo
Laricchia said a total of nine companies from Puglia's food and wine sectors were on hand at the Expo to give attendees a taste of the region.

Pugliese chef Frank Abbiata gave cooking demonstrations using olive oils authentic to the region while dishing out plates of pasta.

"Canada, especially Vancouver, is a target market for us," Laricchia said. "We try to promote travel, Puglia as a tourist destination- Puglia has 800 kilometres of coastline, mountains, hills and great beaches- we are like the California of Italy."

For more information, go to viaggiareinpuglia.it.

Riviera Nayarit

The Mexico Tourism Board was showcasing its gastronomy, which was named UNESCO World Heritage in 2010, with a focus on the Pacific region of Riviera Nayarit. Richard Zarkin, public relations manager, Riviera Nayarit, was on hand to highlight some of the region’s culinary offerings.

“Gastronomy is very important,” said Zarkin. “Studies have shown that, after choosing the property, gastronomy is the second most important part of the destination- it’s why people go down to Riviera Nayarit- the food.”
Richard Zarkin, public relations manager, Riviera Nayarit
Richard Zarkin, public relations manager, Riviera Nayarit

Zarkin said the vast majority of the region’s cuisine is seafood, with an emphasis on Ceviches and a traditional dish called ‘Wagua Chile’, which is made up of butterfly shrimp, cerrano chiles, cucumbers, tomatoes, tostados and avocado.

For seafood restaurants in Riviera Nayarit, Zarkin recommends La Alberca, which serves traditional Nayarit cuisine, El Delphin in San Blas at the Garza Canela Hotel where Chef Betty Vazquez is one of the most renowned chefs in the country.

Zarkin also recommends the Cafe des Artistes in Puerto Vallarta and Cafe des Artistes del Mar in Punta Mita, as well as the famed Zanzibar.  

For more information, go to rivieranayarit.com.


Carina Valicati, gormet & wine coordinator, Argentina Tourism Board
Carina Valicati, gormet & wine coordinator, Argentina Tourism Board
The Argentina Tourist Board was also in Vancouver for the first time, with a chef serving up authentic Argentinean pastries.

Carina Valicati, gourmet & wine tourism coordinator, said the tourism board is keen to promote food and wine tourism the country.

“We have all different types of travellers in Argentina, many adventure [travellers], but also food and wine,” she said. “Food and wine are probably the most iconic and renowned things to identify Argentina.”

Valicati also said that no matter what region travellers choose in Argentina, from Buenos Aries to Patagonia to Cuyo on the wine route, they will have the best in local varietals. 

Argentina is also promoting the ‘Yerba Mate’ route, which is a tourist itinerary that journeys along the provinces of Corrientes and Misiones, showcasing the best of the culinary delicacies produced from the Yerba Mate plant.

For more information, go to argentina.travel.