Gastrodiplomacy was pioneered by Rockower (Rockower,(2012). To paraphrase Rockower's concept the term “gastrodiplomacy” refers to concerted and sustained campaigns of public relations and investment by governments and states, often in collaboration with non-state actors, to increase the value and standing of their nation brand through food. Food is used to pursue diplomatic aims in government-to-public diplomacy.
Gastrodiplomacy builds on food as a common dimension of the lives and cultures of all people. It can be considered a “tender-minded” type of public diplomacy, in that it does not exert influence by advocating directly, but rather more obliquely by striking emotional connections (Rockower, 2012).
Official (governmental) gastrodiplomacy
Many nations have implemented gastrodiplomacy campaigns during the past decade to increase their cultural influence abroad. Gastrodiplomacy is specifically not about international promotion and communication of food products for primarily economic motives (though it may involve promotional aspects, such promotion is done in support of spreading cultural influence).
Food is a powerful tool for achieving diplomatic goals, not only in lieu of hard power for “middle power” countries without global hard power assets, but also as a supplement for hard power superpowers and as legitimation for sub-national powers. Gastrodiplomacy is therefore not just a niche of diplomacy, but spans across the diplomatic spectrum.
If you want to learn more about the gastrodiplomacy efforts of some countries, please click on GD by country
Food is a strong catalyst for bringing people together, a meal together providing pleasurable and unforced contact between equals. Beyond the simple pleasures of conviviality, by bringing people together to participate in shared experiences, food can contribute to de-escalation of hostility and dismantling of prejudices. There are ample of examples of restaurants founded on this principle, such as Conflict Kitchen and My Lucky Tummy. These restaurants not only serve food, but also serve as platforms for building cultural understanding and facilitating cultural exchange.
Chapple-Sokol, S. (2013). Culinary diplomacy: Breaking bread to win heart and minds. The Hague
Journal of Diplomacy, 8, 161–183.
Rockower, P. (2012). Recipes for gastrodiplomacy. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 8(3), 235–