Buon Ricordo’s crisis-busting commitment: to reinforce our network and continue to concentrate on quality; promoting the huge range of regional cuisine in our 123 restaurants
This is what our members all agreed on at the Association’s annual general meeting held at Altomonte, a true pearl of the Calabria region in Southern Italy. The AGM saw three days dense with hard work and the added bonus of a fascinating voyage of discovery exploring the Province of Cosenza’s cultural and gastronomic heritage, all organised by member of the board Enzo Barbieri, owner of the Hotel Barbieri, the headquarters of this year’s event, whose restaurant is part of the history of the Buon Ricordo association. AGM meetings were held in the 14th century Dominican Monastery in the historic centre of Altomonte ( One of Italy’s “Borgo Bello” towns and famed for its bread), a prestigious setting for Italy’s oldest and best-known restaurant association whose 123 members are celebrating 48 years of successful activity in 2012.
The Unione Ristoranti del Buon Ricordo, chaired by Ovidio Mugnai, has been the standard bearer of the finest Italian regional cuisine since 1964. The association has 2 members in Calabria, the Ristorante dell’Hotel Barbieri di Altomonte and the Ristorante Sabbia d’Oro di Belvedere Marittimo, with the best that the province of Cosenza has to offer in terms of gastronomic excellence.
This year in particular the Buon Ricordo AGM, apart from defining its programme and numerous initiatives for 2012, proved a unique occasion for members to compare notes on their strategies for dealing with the current difficult situation. They were adamant in renewing their commitment to quality Italian cuisine to face the challenge of the crisis and maintain the level of their cultural contribution, over and above any purely financial considerations.
“The world is in trouble, the immediate future is difficult to predict and consumer patterns are shifting as a consequence” commented the Association’s chairman Ovidio Mugnai. “So what should we do? We feel that the only way forward is to all carry on doing our best, doing our work to our usual high standards. There are no short cuts. That’s what the Buon Ricordo restaurants are all about. If demand changes we need to accommodate that, rapidly but intelligently, rooting change solidly in our cultural traditions. Off-the-cuff creativity without any solid base is ephemeral. What counts are quality ingredients, expertise, experience and professional rigour in the kitchen, a warm welcome and excellent customer service without servility. In a word: authenticity. This is the way our members work and that is why customers continue to turn to us and trust us, even, or indeed especially, when things get difficult.”
“People increasingly appreciate what is natural, authentic and seasonal, and a cuisine that reflects the culture and traditions of the region where its roots lie. The huge range of our gastronomic traditions is a national treasure in its own right, one that deserves promoting" concluded Mugnai.
A special plate was produced in conjunction with the Provincial Council and Chamber of Commerce of Cosenza to commemorate the occasion. Larger than the usual Buon Ricordo plates, it was decorated with all the delicious specialities from the Cosenza area and was hand-painted by the craftsmen at the Ceramica Artistica Solimene in Vietri sul Mare, who have been creating the Buon Ricordo plates since 1964.
A pleasant addition to the AGM was the chance for members to discover the province of Cosenza and its cultural and gastronomic heritage, as well as meeting representatives from the pick of the area’s producers; from its famed liquorice to olive oil and a host of other Calabrian specialities. The convention schedule was extremely intense, and owed much of its success to the warmth of Calabrian hospitality and the support of local institutions, from the Altomonte Town Council to the Provincial Council of Cosenza, the Cosenza Chamber of Commerce and the Gal Vallecrati and Assoproli associations.