Around the Globe: Downtown Kitchen’s Gastronomy Tour Celebrates World Cuisine
June 20, 2016
by Kai Parmenter
Tucson has always been a city rich in diversity of culture and food, so much so that the Old Pueblo recently garnered international recognition. In December 2015, the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, designated Tucson a City of Gastronomy, the first city in North America to receive this prestigious title.
In response to this recent award, Chef Janos Wilder, owner of Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, has modified his annual Around the Globe tour to highlight the cuisine of select cities that share Tucson’s designation as international centers of gastronomy.
“We’re doing four different cities throughout the summer, all of them sister cities with us—UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy,” says Wilder. “The first one is Parma, Italy, which we’re doing right now.” But what exactly does each part of the tour consist of?
“With each of those, we do a three course menu…consisting of appetizers, main course and dessert, and we select a drink as well,” says Wilder, who notes that each item may be ordered a la carte or at a fixed price for all three courses.
Around the Globe will also feature a one-time cooking class and a pop-up dinner event for all cities, to be held on or near the beginning of each leg of the tour. According to Wilder, the classes will comprise “a short version of the menu that we serve,” and a brief culinary history of each region.
The first class, on the fare of Parma, Italy, will include demonstrations on Lasagne Bolognese, Porchetta with Creamy Polenta and more. The Parma class will take place on Friday, June 24th at the Carriage House, followed by dinner at Downtown Kitchen. Reservations for the kickoff run $80 per person, and include the cooking demonstration, recipes and hors d’oeuvres, a five-course dinner and beverages.
This isn’t the first time Downtown Kitchen has sampled the fare of other places. “For the last five years, we’ve done a series of Downtown’s Around the Globe. We’ve done various downtowns, and with the Tucson designation…we really wanted to work closer with our fellow cities of gastronomy.”
Wilder says he and his crew looked to cities they had yet to cover, places with cuisines that excited or inspired them. “In time, we want to create with each of these cities a collaborative event, so that we can send our chefs there and they can send their chefs here,” says Wilder, whose goal is to share knowledge and cuisine with these other gastronomical cities, beginning with Ensenada, the last stop on this year’s tour. “We’re actually working with the Mexican consulate right now to set that up.”
Downtown Kitchen’s Parma showcase began on May 24th, and will continue through July 11th. But what’s next for the tour following Italy? “The next one is going to be Rasht, Iran, then Phuket, Thailand, and then Ensenada, Mexico,” notes Wilder, though he’s hesitant to give further details on the upcoming cities just yet.
Chef Wilder is no stranger to Tucson’s gastronomical reputation, having advised on Tucson’s application to UNESCO last year. “I was part of the application process,” notes Wilder, who was thrilled when Tucson was accepted as a City of Gastronomy in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.
“It’s super gratifying…it’s a huge feather in the cap for Tucson, and says so much about who we are. It’s not just about having good restaurants and serving good food, it’s about having a really long culinary heritage,” says Wilder, pointing out that Tucson’s gastronomical history goes back more than 5,000 years.
To learn more about Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails’ Around the Globe tour, or to register for the June 24th cooking class and pop-up dinner on the cuisine of Parma, visit their site here.