Slow Food UK is relocating its headquarters to London from Ludlow, Shropshire, in a bid to raise its profile. It has also revamped its Board of Trustees, which now includes cookery and charity entrepreneur Prue Leith.
Faced with a lack of funding and the need to make a ‘fresh start and take a big step forward’, Slow Food UK – which opened in Ludlow in July 2006 – will now be based at a Covent Garden branch of Neal’s Yard, the gourmet cheese and natural products business.
‘We need to re-invent Slow Food in the UK to take the movement forward, reach new heights and make our voice heard at the highest levels of government and amongst food policy makers,’ said Carlo Petrini, founder and President of Slow Food International, the controversial eco-gastronomic movement launched in Italy in the late 1980s.
According to Gerry Danby, Chairman of the UK Board of Trustees, the new flagship will open in a matter of weeks.
‘In common with a lot of not-for-profit charitable organisations, we had a funding crisis at the beginning of the year which led us to think about Slow Food’s future and where the opportunities would be,’ Danby told decanter.com.
‘Given the desire of the organisation to play a much bigger role in the national debate about food and food-related issues, we had to consider how we could present Slow Food to its best advantage. It’s a fact that London is very much at the heart of the debate, and the move puts us right at the doorstep of the universities and other organisations that have a London base.’
Once a Mecca for foodies, the tony market town of Ludlow has seen a spate of high profile departures in the last few years.
Shaun Hill, who opened Merchant House restaurant in the early 1990s – and who is often credited with putting Ludlow on the culinary map – left in 2005 to pursue consulting and ultimately to head up The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, Wales.
Likewise, Claude and Claire Bosi moved their celebrated Hibiscus restaurant to London in 2007, in pursuit of a second Michelin star.
So while Ludlow still boasts La Bécasse, which respected Chef Alan Murchison – owner of Michelin one-star l’Ortolan – opened in Hibiscus’s former home, it is widely believed that the culinary star of Shropshire is losing its sparkle.
Based in Bra, Italy, Slow Food International has 85,000 members across 132 countries.
Written by Maggie Rosen