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Cooking Days of Healthy and Organic Dishes from the Eastern Rhodopes

The New Thracian Gold (NTG) project with the support and participation of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Bulgaria and "Soul Kitchen"-Sofia organize 'Cooking Days' with organic and local agricultural produce from the Eastern Rhodopes on 7, 8 and 9 June in Sofia and in the village of Gorno Pole, Madzharovo Municipality.

In partnership with their  Soul Kitchen colleagues the two Dutch chefs Eric van Veluwen and Carolina Verhoeven will make presentations, cook and demonstrate healthy dishes prepared with organic and Eastern Rhodopean products. The guests of the event will have the opportunity to taste the dishes.

Eric van Veluwen is a passionate promoter of the healthy and organic food in the business he manages (www.devaleouwe.nl) and in Rhederoord near Arnhem where he is chef. A person who can inspire others, a thinker and doer, oriented to the pragmatical solutions – this is how Eric van Veluwen describes himself. The preferences for local products, respect for the producer and the guest is for him as an entrepreneur of the utmost importance. Learning to listen to  nature and to treat it  with respect became for him the guideline in the entrepreneurship. He chose  to aim for guests who have the same point of view about momentary profit. Choosing to work with organic and bio-dynamic products was a logical step in his development. Van Veluwen is  Chairman of the foundation Good Food Alliance,  Board member of De Proeftuinen, foundation for inspiring sustainable leadership, Member of the Bioraad, advisory body for innovative entrepreneurship in the primary sector,  Professor on the Saxion college. He is an author of Echte kaas ( Real cheese ), Modern koken in Nederland (Modern cooking in the Netherlands),  De viswaaier, alle 13 maanden smaak (All thirtheen months flavour). Eric has experience with projects at a national and an international level. He has been to Bulgaria twice for a project on sustainable tourism and food.

Carolina Verhoeven is a culinary ethnologist and owner of Academy Culinary History. She is the director and a leading expert on cooking of organic and healthy food. She is interested in everything that concerns the preparation of food. Carolina has almost 40 years of experience in   processing and preserving of sausages, canned meat, fruit and vegetables and instant soups. She is an expert in the area of bottling, use of glass jars, freezing and canning food. Carolina has followed the trends in fruit and vegetable processing and has developed many recipes for fruit and vegetable preserves such as jam, chutneys, instant soups, etc. She gives courses/presentations in cooking, especially traditional local products, conservation of food, food history and culinary heritage. She has experience in international projects.

Eric and Carolina will demonstrate their skills in the Soul Kitchen restaurant and at the Dutch Embassy in Sofia and later on at the Wild Farm in the village of Gorno pole. Diplomats, Bulgarian chefs, representatives of cooking tv programs and news magazines, organic food producers, B&B owners from the Eastern Rhodopes, lecturers and students from culinary schools are invited.

The two Dutch culinary experts will be joint by Martien Lankester, the executive director of the Dutch Avalon foundation that has been working at the cutting edge of nature conservation and organic farming since 1990. Martien was trained as a medical doctor and devoted his life to promoting organic food and farming methods; during his studies in Amsterdam he  set up one of the first organic restaurants.

A Culinary Guidebook of the Eastern Rhodopes will be presented for first time during the three day event. The book is a  result of several years of hard work by  the coordinator on organic farming of the NTG project Vladislav Popov in cooperation with colleagues in the project. The book presents traditional dishes from the Eastern Rhodopes and the recipes how to make them. The book provides information on the ingredients of the dishes and farms/producers in the region where the customers can buy them.  A list of selected sites where tourist and guests can taste the dishes is also included in the book. More and more producers in the Eastern Rhodopes open their farms to visitors who can taste and buy fresh organic fruits and vegetables.

The Culinary event offers an excelent opportunity for sharing expertise in healthy cooking, organic food, green lifestyle and to get acquaintanted with the  rich nature and culinary diversity of the Eastern Rhodopes.

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