A new international culinary competition designed to recognise one chef who has made an exceptional contribution to “improving society through gastronomy” has been launched in the form of the Basque World Culinary Prize.

Created by the Basque Culinary Center (one of the most prestigious gastronomic universities in the world), the Prize has been designed to acknowledge and celebrate a generation of international chefs that have made outstanding contributions to society. These contributions will have redefined the gastronomic profession through the integration of new skills, creativity, innovation and social concerns to their culinary approach.

The Prize will be held annually with applications open to chefs of any nationality that have demonstrated how gastronomy can be used as a powerful vehicle for change. The Prize itself will be judged by a panel of some of the world’s most influential chefs including: Gastn Acurio (Peru), Ferran Adri (Spain), Alex Atala (Brazil), Dan Barber (US), Heston Blumenthal (UK), Massimo Bottura (Italy), Michel Bras (France), Yukio Hattori (Japan), Enrique Olvera (Mexico), Ren Redzepi (Denmark) and chaired by Joan Roca (Spain).

Along with some of the world’s leading chefs, leading experts in related disciplines including US food scientist and writer Harold McGee; Massimo Montanari, a professor of Medieval History at Bologna University and one of the leading world experts in Food Studies; renowned novelist Laura Esquivel; and Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will also help judge the prize.

The judging process will take place in San Sebastian in early July with the winner announced on 11 July 2016. The winner will receive €100,000 to devote to a project of their choice that demonstrates the wider role of gastronomy in society. 

“We believe the world of gastronomy can have a positive influence on society when chefs take on the responsibilities that come with having a public voice,” says Joxe Mari Aizega, head of the Basque Culinary Centre. “Our aim is to uncover examples of great work that has made a difference from chefs around the world, whether they are known or unknown.”

To be considered for the award, chefs will have to be nominated by another professional who is currently working in the world of gastronomy such as a fellow chef, food writer, food supplier, or an institution. Nominations opened on 1st February and close on 30 April, 2016.

The Basque Culinary Centre says that it wants to use the collective knowledge of the gastronomic community to unearth candidates from around the world who have improved society through gastronomy but have not necessarily come to wider public attention. Anyone with a background working as a professional chef – from any culinary tradition – is eligible for the prize. Chefs can be nominated via the Basque Culinary World Prize website. Click here for more information.


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