Regional culinary 'specialities' are usually considered as indicative of the culture of specific areas, of their traditions and ways of life. Only recently has research begun to focus on the processes that constitute regional food cultures. This article traces the use of 'culinary heritage' as a concept in regional practices and European politics, developing an analysis of how everyday food practices are transformed first into cultural heritage, and then into cultural property. It then presents a comparative ethnographic project aiming at a cultural analysis of procedures involved in the EU food quality assurance system. In conclusion, the article proposes perspectives that may help fill the gaps in research identified in this context.