Having studied anthropology at undergraduate level I then worked in the international development sector for 10 years before training as a chef and changing career to work freelance in food as a teacher, writer and consultant. This led to a part-time masters degree in the anthropology of food at SOAS, followed by a part-time PhD.
Increasingly regions emphasise their local specialities and local cuisines. Much academia, national and EU policy (eg GIs, CAP reforms), UNESCO's framework for intangible heritage and "alternative" food movements such as Slow Food encourage this strategy as win-win: for tourists seeking authenticity and pleasure, tourism providers seeking local distinctiveness, food producers adding value and reaching new markets, sustainability and security of (re)localised food systems, and safeguarding of traditional artisanship, cultural heritage and local identity. My PhD investigates these claims in one such region - Croatian Istria - using an anthropological approach to do research with those creating "Istrian cuisine" - the largely rural producers and providers of local specialities such as air-dried ham, truffles, pasta, ox meat and olive oil. My focus is on how various actors seek to create value out of place, while at the same time create place through their work with food.