Basque Culinary World Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in the culinary world, and ten chefs were honored as finalists at Enrique Olvera’s Cosme in NYC.
On 24th July the winner will be announced. He or she will be awarded €100,000 to “devote to a project or institution that expresses the ethos of the prize: to transform society through gastronomy.”
Finalists chefs were selected on the basis of their demonstration of “how gastronomy could become a transformational force in areas ranging from innovation to education, health, research, sustainability, social entrepreneurship and economic development,” reads a release announcing the prize. The current jury is selected by chef Joan Roca and includes Gastón Acurio, Massimo Bottura, Manu Buffara, Mauro Colagreco, Dominique Crenn, Yoshihiro Narisawa, and Enrique Olvera.
The ten finalists are below:
1. Anthony Myint (USA): Co-founder of Zero Foodprint, a non-profit that helps business reduce carbon footprint.
2.Caleb Zigas (USA): Executive director of San Francisco’s La Cocina, a social incubator that helps low-income people become owners of their businesses.
3. Dieuveil Malonga (Congo/Germany): Top Chef: France alum and founder of Chefs in Africa, supporting young chefs from African countries.
4. Ebru Baybara Demir (Turkey): Leads initiatives to empower Syrian refugees, including the “Harran Gastronomy Project.”
5. Heidi Bjerkan (Norway): Chef at Credo leading the way in sustainability.
6. Jock Zonfrillo (Australia/Scotland): Chef and founder at Orana Foundation, supporting indigenous communities.
7. Karissa Becerra (Peru): Chef-activist behind the non-profit La Revolución.
8. Marc Puig-Pey (Spain): El Bulli alum behind Fundació Alícia in Barcelona, educating children and adults with dietary restrictions.
9. Matt Orlando (Denmark/USA): Amass chef and leader in the fight against food waste.
10. Virgilio Martínez (Peru): Central and Mil chef behind Mater Iniciativa, a biological and social research center in Lima.
The prize event is organized by the Basque Government under the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC). In 2016, María Fernanda Di Giacobbe of Venezuela won, and, in 2017, Leonor Espinosa took home the honor.
“What I appreciate about this prize, is how it gives awareness to something that, otherwise, would not be recognized,” said Pia Sörensen, director of the Science and Cooking program of Harvard University. “What we have here, with these finalists, is a good representation of what is happening in gastronomy all over the world. It reflects something pretty powerful.”