When in Milan — or Turin, or even Rome, for that matter — Italian gourmands have looked to the guidance of one society for all things culinary throughout this past decade. And now, the not-so-secret society has gone international with its English-language site, which is now a year old as of December 2, 2013. It's called Identita Golose — translated as "Foodie Identity."
It started as the passion project of one man, Italian food journalist Paolo Marchi, and by now has grown into a network similar to the United States' StarChefs. However, while StarChefs mainly serves the food and beverage trade, Identita Golose aims to reach a broader viewership, with an 800-page guidebook to the world's best restaurants, and a slate of international events that enlist some of the biggest culinary stars on the international scene.
For American foodies who want the inside track to European gastronomy without having the necessary Romance language skills, the Identita Golose site is a tremendous resource. Which is not to say it's the easiest to navigate, as it can be a bit confusing to wade through. Its wealth of foodie event announcements, chef "protagonist" profiles, essays and recipes isn't exactly straight forward, especially since all of the English site is translated from the original Italian.
Not all of the Italian page archives have been translated yet, but hundreds have — especially any pieces that are America-centric, from travelogues to essays. Sometimes you won't be able to find a particular English-language story in the English section, but go to the main site, and voila, there it is! So yes, a bit of a jumble, but such fun to explore!
To begin with perhaps the most important question — how does a chef get the Identita Golose nod of approval? As with many critical organizations, the Identita expert panel (AKA the Congress) is always on the lookout. They sometimes seem to give special preference to Michelin-starred chefs, especially in the established culinary capitals, but in smaller cities (especially outside Europe) the criteria are different.
Once a chef has made it onto the "approved" list, just about anything the chef does might be deemed worthy of attention — whether it's a special dinner, an online video series, or simply a restaurant anniversary. And thus, Identita has amassed a large and fascinating collection of chef videos, world-class recipes, and event information (like pop-ups in Sao Paulo, restaurant openings in the Basque, and truffle auctions in Hong Kong).
Speaking of events, sometimes members of the Identita Congress, or a contingent of Identita chefs, will participate in larger events. Several times a year, Identita throws prestigious celebrations of its own in international culinary capitals. You can always tell those because "Identita" will be in the name.
So, enter the next level of gastronomic world travel through Identita and get lost among the endless articles and resources. You won't regret it!