Strengthening a country's or company's brand through food and culinary experiences is nothing new.
In the spring of 2011, the New Nordic Food Programme II organised a workshop around the topic of Public Food Diplomacy. During the workshop, participants discussed how (and if) Nordic embassies use food, nationally and internationally to build and strengthen the Nordic brand as well as their respective national brand.
The conclusion was that there is a need for a toolkit with concrete tools that can be utilised when using food and meals as a branding tool. Participants also expressed a need to define what Public Food Diplomacy really was, when used on a Nordic level. Public Food Diplomacy was later renamed Nordic Food Dipomacy. A term that more clearly signals that the programme has a Nordic focus.
Another existing concept is Gastro Diplomacy, which was coined at the beginning of the year 2000, when Thailand conducted a campaign, Global Thai, in order to increase the number of Thai restaurants internationally, and promoting Thailand through the country's food culture. The campaign became a success and today countries such as Taiwan, India and Korea all use Gastro Diplomacy.
The meaning of Public Food Diplomacy
The meaning of the Public Food Diplomacy is not new, food and representation go hand in hand throughout history. You could say that it is a development of diplomacy in general. Diplomacy may be associated mostly with secret meetings and sealed dispatches.
This was changed after the Cold War when the concept of Public Diplomacy was introduced, which then meant cultural exchanges, foreign aid, etc. Later the term also included food as the French cuisine began to give way to other kitchens, even in diplomatic circles. In Scandinavia we are good at using the food in representation and we are awareness that it is to create a special dining experience. Already in the late 1800s, the Nordic countries used Nordic food to draw attention to their national pavilions of the great world exhibitions.