Eddie Mukiibi, Vice-president of Slow Food International, recently included in the Forbes’ The 50 Next Awards: The Future Of Gastronomy, also a UNISG former student of the Master of Gastronomy: World Food Cultures and Mobility, tells us a little bit about his path. 

What brought you to UNISG for the Master of Gastronomy, and how did it enrich you? How does it still enrich you now when you are teaching others?
For so many years, I have been working on food and agriculture with communities as a leader, agronomist and innovator. I have always wanted to have a strong connection with gastronomy to enrich my knowledge and get a different perspective of the food system. I could not look for this knowledge anywhere else but in Pollenzo. 

So, it was hard for me to leave all that I was doing, to leave my family back home, and come to Pollenzo – but it was worth the risk. The Master of Gastronomy: World Food Cultures and Mobility degree taught me about food issues beyond my technical agronomic skills. The interaction with a purely international community offered me more learning opportunities every day. At times, I felt overwhelmed with the vast amounts of knowledge shared within and outside the classrooms. 

The most important thing I realised at Pollenzo is that the more you interact with this friendly international community, the more you get to share your own experiences, and the more you learn – it’s a triangular learning model. I found this an essential tool for bridging the knowledge gaps that exist among societies today. 

Before being nominated as the vice president of Slow Food International, you had already worked on the 1000 gardens project, starting 75 of them and two presidia: which are your most significant achievements and why?
Being nominated as the vice president of Slow Food International came with many governance and leadership responsibilities. I had to convince myself that, at my young age, I could absorb this pressure and still had enough energy, passion and enthusiasm to support the development of the Slow Food Network – not only in Africa but around the world.

It was a reminder that, as young people, we have the potential to do more for the future of our movement and for the future of our food system. On top of supporting the Slow Food International Governance Board to define the direction for the movement, being vice president has helped me work closely with our colleagues at the Slow Food International headquarters in Bra and the global network. I have especially liked overseeing the growth of Slow Food in Africa with more than 3394 gardens created – out of these, 385 are located in Uganda – 49 presidia, 244 food communities, 511 Ark of Taste products, 295 convivia, seven earth markets, a Slow Food Youth Africa Network stronger than ever and 4 Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance Networks. 

We have seen more than 30 new young leaders emerge from different countries and territories on the African continent, and many new presidia and Ark of Taste products launched. In Uganda alone, under my coordination, we have moved from two presidia to six active presidia and 87 food communities, defining the strongly growing Slow Food Network that is spreading throughout the entire country. 

What advice do you give to someone seeking a career in gastronomy nowadays?
Gastronomy is a vast field and has a lot of opportunities if viewed in its broadest sense. It’s good to set limits but not to restrict your vision to what you already have in mind. There is a whole world to explore in this field, although it is also essential to focus on your goals as it’s easy to get distracted with all the nice things to explore. This is my sincere advice, and I hope that I am not creating any confusion. So explore the world of gastronomy, set your goals, focus and go for them…

©Fred Peerdeman