Pep Palau: the man behind one of the most famous Culinary Conventions

The front man of Fórum Gastronomic tell us what’s behind the scenes of a successful Food Convention.

In recent years, Food Tourism has grown considerably and has become one of the most dynamic and creative segments of tourism. We are aware of the importance of gastronomy in order to diversify tourism and stimulate local, regional and national economic development. Food influences people’s lifestyle, health and habits. We have to be update on the global trends in Food Tourism, as they are one of the most important sectors in the economical scene.

Fórum Gastronomic (Spain)

Food is an essential commodity as well as social and cultural heritageAnd that’s why we couldn’t miss the most important Culinary Convention in Spain. Forum Gastronomic. We moved to A Coruña, the city of one of the most important fashion industries in the world, Inditex, to attend this amazing convention where we could find lots of food activities such fabulous food workshops, wine and food testings and interesting talks given by important chefs. We could also visit food stands from all over Spain. It was a great experience we recommend you to attend.

Galician Chef Pepe Solla at Fórum Coruña

We could write this article just describing all the activities, but we believe that one of the things that makes a Convention successful is the people behind the scenes. We had the great opportunity to meet Pep Palau, one of the founders, and asked him some questions we believe are the key to understand why a Culinary Event could get so famous and be an example of a well done job.

Palau is the most important person in the food scene in Catalonia and in Spain. He’s a food and wine expert and the person at the front of the Culinary Convention. Alongside with Jaume von Arend he is the founder of the most important Culinary Event in Spain. Fórum Gastronomic is recognized as one of the most important Food-Convention spots in the world. Since 1999 they’ve been working in the food industry activity (among other projects) being able to positioning Fórum Gastronomic at the front of the Food Conventions around the world.

Pep Palau, founder of the Spanish Fórum Gastronomic

PMarvel asks Pep Palau

How do you choose the location for an event? And what are your priorities after that.
Actually, we don’t really “choose” a city. The city “chooses” us. I mean, a city who wants to host Fórum Gastronomic knows it’s a moment for a city to bask in the global Gastronomic spotlight. We know Fórum is the leader, The Formula 1 on Culinary & Food events. The host city wants to revitalize their food tourism as they know the importance of gastronomy in the development of tourism destinations in the world. And they know Fórum is the key to success.

How many events does Fórum Gastronomic plan per year?
The host city has three events in three years. It’s a bi-annual event in every city. We started in Vic (Catalonia), then the success of the fair made us to move it to a bigger city, Girona (Catalonia), then came Barcelona (Catalonia) and the last addition was A Coruña (Galicia).
So, now, Fórum rotates from Barcelona-Coruña-Girona. It’s a big display and a big responsibility for both the host cities and for us as the head of organization. And we’re very proud of the things we’ve achieved, so far.

What elements must be considered before you start planning an event?
It’s important to highlight this. We believe in Food and Gastronomy as elements of regional innovation strategies.
The first thing for us is our wish to get the maximum commitment with the territory and the host city. That means the presence of local products and chefs from the territory in the Fórum food activities. We want to preserve and promote a specific region’s cuisine and local producers. We also look for complicity between the city and the gastronomy of the city. The city, with its citizens and the visitors during the convention, should feel that food and city is all in one.
So, we, as Fórum leaders, have the highest commitment with values in which our society is sensitive of, such as food crafts, sustainable and eco-friendly productions, technical innovation systems and so on…
We want Fórum to be the place where there’s a balance between the presence of small producers and big/large companies. It’s important to us to generate costumer loyalty, as it will be the key to a great success, not only today, but in the future conventions. Fórum Gastronomic is a container of initiatives and proposals. It’s a trend promoter and the right channel to propagate culinary Arts activities. So, we need great local chefs but also some national famous chefs in order to give prestige to the convention as well as visibility to an outstanding event.

How do you persuade a client of the value of your services at Fórum as a place to make business more visible?
When making decisions rewarding the attendance, they know that coming as an Exhibitor it’s like playing on First division. The Food Fair is essential in the whole Fórum event, it’s the place where they can show their target all about their companies: they can generate sales, build a database of potential clients and meeting the current ones. We ask them to come actively. They need to give their best to get their goals in the fair. It’s the best place to build an active relationship with investors, clients and suppliers. Exhibitors are one of our more important strengths: if they get what they want, they’ll come back and we’ll be pleased to give them the space to make good business.

A person you would most like to open a bottle of wine with?
Javier Olleros (Galician Chef, 1 Michelin Star Restaurant). He’s a humble, intelligent, professional person. And a great conversational partner.

The virtue you’re most proud of in your career.
Thinking with the heart and work with passion to get my goals.

3 things that you consider to be your strengths.
Perseverance. Perfectionism. Believing on what you do in your job and in your life contribute to make the world a better place.

How do you like the most about your job?
Actually I love everything about my job, but if you ask me to choose some of the things I like the most, I will go to some that I believe are what I am: a perfectionist who loves to reinvent itself. Reinventing oneself, so you don’s stop being thrilled about our convention, our guests, the host cities, people involved in this beautiful initiative…
I would like to add something witch is, in my opinion, the essence of Fórum Gastromic: human relations. The relations between producers and chefs, our team with all of them, and then all of them with all the general public, with the media, with food critics or even with visitors. It’s all about human relations. And that, for me, is one of the most gratifying things Fórum gives us. It’s not about us, as the head of the Forum, it’s about you, about the chefs, the exhibitors, the producers. Every time we create this event, we are creating strong relationships between people, groups or countries. And we will keep working in the same way to promote Culinary Arts Activities.

Thank you, Mr. Palau, we’ll stick with your personal statement: “I think with the heart and work with passion to get my goals.” See you in Girona!

Visit Fòrum Girona for more information.
More info: Forum Gastronomic
Pep Palau’s blog site:
Twitter:  (@peppalau)
Forum Gastronomic is held each year, alternating between Girona (Catalonia), Barcelona (Catalonia) and A Coruña (Galicia). The next convention will be held in Girona (Catalonia) on September 2017.