Italian cuisine in the spotlight at the Winter Fancy Food Show

The Unesco heritage candidacy was celebrated at an event hosted by the Italian Trade Agency
Italian cuisine in the spotlight at the Winter Fancy Food Show

Four days post the Axiom 3 launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, catapulting Italian culinary excellence into space for the first time, the spotlight once again graces Italian cuisine – a Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage hopeful.

Amid the Winter Fancy Food Show, North America’s paramount event dedicated to specialty food and beverages in Las Vegas, the cultural and gastronomic tapestry of Italy took center stage. Renowned chefs and top-notch enterprises creatively interpreted unique, high-quality ingredients alongside globally recognized recipes and preparations.

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Initiated in March last year under the stewardship of Italian Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida and Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, the Unesco candidacy of Italian cuisine, previously promoted at the 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, seized the limelight once again. The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) orchestrated this event within the framework of the Fancy Food Show in Las Vegas, hosted at the Mercato della Pescheria restaurant within The Venetian, one of Las Vegas’s premier hotels.

In attendance were 150 distinguished figures from Italy and the United States, representing institutions, entrepreneurs, and standout Italian brands, led by industry giants Barilla and the Rana Group. Notable attendees included Matteo Zoppas (pictured above, together with Giovanni Rana Jr), President of the Italian Trade Agency; Raffaella Valentini, Consul General of Los Angeles; and Bill Lynch, President of the Specialty Food Association – the organizing entity behind Fancy Food Show.

This gathering, a collaborative effort with Cibus 2024, SFA, and Universal Marketing, underscored the commitment to the agri-food sector and Italian enterprises, facilitated by a fruitful partnership with both the American and Italian exhibition industries.


Italian cuisine stands as a formidable force in Italy’s export landscape, demonstrating robust growth in the first ten months of 2023. The agri-food sector, a beacon of the country’s economic prowess, recorded exports totaling €51.6 billion, reflecting an impressive uptick of +6.4% compared to the preceding year. Of this, a substantial 10% (€5.4 billion) emanated from the United States, underscoring its significance as a pivotal market for the globally renowned Made in Italy gastronomy.

The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) event in Las Vegas hosted industry luminaries and companies converged to articulate the intrinsic values, diversity, biodiversity, and sustainability that define Italian culinary excellence. Noteworthy contributors included Dominic De Pinto of the Rana Group, showcasing savory and sweet ravioli as pivotal elements of the dinner, and Lorenzo Boni of Barilla, presenting bronze-extruded fusilli elevated with Italian gastronomic hallmarks such as San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and extra virgin olive oil from the Monti Iblei. Both companies seized the opportunity to expound upon the “Italian Food in Space” initiative, the avant-garde project launched with the Axiom 3 space mission introducing Barilla fusilli to microgravity conditions for the first time.

Gelato Festival, under the guidance of CEO Gabriele Poli, crafted the dessert “La Nocciola,” seamlessly fusing three Italian excellences – hazelnut gelato, gianduia sauce, and Prato almond biscotti crumble. Renowned US chef and entrepreneur of Italian heritage, Joe Bastianich, also graced the event.

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In a symbolic gesture on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, a plaque was presented bearing the inscription “I love Italian cuisine, a Unesco Heritage candidate.”

Francesco Lollobrigida, Italian Minister of Agriculture, asserted, “Food quality is non-negotiable. Our adept conveyance and realization of high quality set us apart. The companies present here act as ambassadors for our exceptional productions. I anticipate the ascendancy of our cuisine and its associated supply chains in the profoundly significant American market.

Matteo Zoppas, President of ITA (in photo with Giovanni Rana Jr at Las Vegas Winter Fancy Food 2024), expressed pride in contributing to the support and promotion of the candidacy of Italian cuisine for Unesco Heritage. He affirmed that this recognition would rightly celebrate a strategic facet of Italy, serving as a distinguished ambassador of Italian traditions and craftsmanship on the global stage.

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