Entries are now open for the second Basque Culinary World Prize, created to recognise chefs who have “improved society through gastronomy.” 

Nominations will be open until 2 May, 2017, with the winner announced on 16 July at the meeting of the International Committee of the Basque Culinary Center in Mexico City, part of a major global event on biodiversity.

The Basque Culinary World Prize is organised by the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) and the Basque government under the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy.

It is an annual achievement award that celebrates a chef of any nationality who demonstrates how gastronomy can be a force for change. It recognises the efforts of men or women whose impact can be felt beyond the kitchen in areas ranging from innovation and research to education, health, the environment, social development and entrepreneurship.

The winner will receive €100,000 to devote to a project of their choice that demonstrates the wider role of gastronomy in society.

The award will be judged by many of the world’s most respected chefs, who make up the International Council of the Basque Culinary Center. It will be chaired by Joan Roca (Spain) and include Gastn Acurio (Peru), Ferran Adri (Spain), Alex Atala (Brazil), Dan Barber (US), Michel Bras (France), Heston Blumenthal (UK), Massimo Bottura (Italy), Dominique Crenn (France), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), Enrique Olvera (Mexico) and Ren Redzepi (Denmark). 

For the first time it also includes Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe, winner of the 2016 Basque Culinary World Prize.

Joan Roca, chair of the prize jury and founder of the restaurant , El Celler de Can Roca, said “The Basque Culinary World Prize identifies men and women working in gastronomy and striving to excel. Those innovative, creative, determined – and sometimes impetuous – trailblazers who are engaged with their community and demonstrate every day how gastronomy can be an engine for transformation.”

Last year, nominations came from over 30 countries worldwide and 110 different chefs were nominated.

Venezuelan chef Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe was chosen for her pioneering work with Venezuelan chocolate through social projects such as Kakao and Cacao de Origen, with which she has built an ecosystem of education, entrepreneurship, research and development around the Criollo cacao bean, making it a source of identity, culture and economic progress. Amid the complex political situation in her country, she has given opportunities to women in economically vulnerable conditions.

Fernanda Di Giacobbe said “Since we won the prize, our work has taken on a new dimension. We have helped many more women become ‘chocolate entrepreneurs’. It has allowed us to set new goals and open up new ways to connect with the world. The news of the prize reached all of Venezuela – even in remote areas.  People who had never really considered that cacao was a crop that could improve their lives have contacted me to tell me their story and ask for guidance.”

To be considered for the award, chefs must be nominated by another professional currently working in the world of gastronomy, for example another chef, food writer or food supplier, or an institution.   

After nominations have closed, the proposed names will be considered by a group of academics from the Basque Culinary Center and other universities. Together they will assess which of the nominees meet the judging criteria and will select a list of 10 finalists to pass on to the Prize Jury, who will choose the winner.  


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