POST OF THE MONTH: Miriam Garcia Valencia

PhD candidate, Dept. Sensory, consumer and innovation, NofimaAS



Stockholm Gastronomy Conference

A snowy November weekend in the capital of Sweden was the scenario for the Stockholm Gastronomy Conference 2023. In the European Capital of Gastronomy of 2023, food was the reason to bring together the fields of sensory science, business, design, religion, policy, and education, represented by experts in their fields. 
During the three days of the conference, researchers had the opportunity to share their projects with an engaged audience. The conference was thoughtfully structured around four main tracks, each diving into different facets of gastronomy and sustainable food practices. The first track focused on exploring taste, pleasure, and delight as influential levers for promoting sustainable food consumption. The second track was dedicated to gastronomy according to terroir, place, space, and culture. Gastronomy emerged as a powerful force of transformation in the third track. And the last track centered around gastronomy norms, skills, competencies, and education.

I had the opportunity to present results from my PhD project. In the session: From Waste to Taste using Sensory and Consumer Science Methodologies, organised by Marlene Schou Grønbeck and Maja Krogsøe Skou from the Danish Technological Institute. 
My presentation was titled "Side streams and food processing technologies: results from experimental focus groups" and included the results from data collected through focus groups where we explored the attitudes of Norwegian consumers regarding the use of three types of side-stream sources and two processing technologies in different food products. 
The session was organised with discussion questions proposed by the presenters at the beginning of the presentation and then discussed first between the attendees after the presentation and then further discussed with the presenters, letting us have a dynamic session with a highly engaged audience. 
Between the sessions and over traditional "fika", which I would not dare to define after learning about its meaning in different sessions, but which I know is accompanied by coffee, cinnamon buns, and good chats, we experienced the Swedish tradition let a pleasant interaction develop between independent researchers, PhD students, professors, and business consultants. What truly set this conference apart was the broad range of backgrounds of its participants and the easiness of meeting and chatting with people from the different institutions. 

Besides the rich academic program, we had a chance to try the "taste" of Sweden through dishes developed in the Sweden’s County Meals project during the lunches in Aula Magna at Stockholm University as well as a three-course menu at a gala dinner in the Vasa Museum.

The conference culminated in the gala dinner, and the Vasa Museum welcomed us for a unique experience that included first a tour of the museum and then a dinner with a menu representing Swedish gastronomy along with the chance to sit in an assigned table along with attendees from the different areas covered in the conference. We enjoyed the music, the food, and the good company with the traditional speeches from the Swedish organisers, which included nice words, singing, and even rapping.  

In 2024, the conference will take place in Spain, where again, I hope gastronomy brings us together to share about our favourite topic: food. 
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