Hurray for the chef who changes the world

The director of the Basque Culinary Center at Identità: 100K euros for the best development project

31-03-2016
The chefs in the jury of the Basque Culinary World

The chefs in the jury of the Basque Culinary World Prize. They will assign 100K to the colleague who will stand out thanks to a project to develop his or her community. From the top left corner, René Redzepi, Massimo Bottura, Heston Blumenthal, jury president Joan Roca (Spain), Yukio Hattori, Alex Atala, Ferran Adrià, Gastón Acurio, Enrique Olvera, Dan Barber, Michel Bras. In order to decide the winner, the jury will count on the consultancy of experts in subjects connected with gastronomy such as Harold McGee, Massimo Montanari, Laura Esquivel, Hilal Elver

The established boom of gastronomy in recent years has put chefs under a large spotlight. It is not an accidental or purely media phenomenon. And many chefs have managed to legitimize their role through actions that, over time, have shown to be creative. Such an exposure implies an inescapable responsibility. Being aware this, professional chefs are taking more and more seriously the importance food has today in fields that traditionally referred to other points of view: economic, political, environmental, scientific...

Contemporary chefs were brave enough to go beyond the context of their kitchen and make the interaction with the environment increasingly crucial. This has led to a complete change in the culinary scene. In many places around the world, there are chefs multiplying the dimensions of their work, integrating sensitivity and expertise in a new fertile terrain for multidisciplinary exchange.

The Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastián

The Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastián

Given the proportion all this has reached and the suspicion that of course this could also lead outside the boundaries of gastronomy, it’s worth wondering frankly: does it make sense for chefs to cover subjects such as sustainability, local trade or environment? Is it a good thing for them to warn us on the risks the world’s biodiversity is undergoing? For them to caution us on the health threats for humankind?

At the Basque Culinary Center we believe all this makes sense. We’re convinced of the importance the restaurant industry can have when its actors take on the responsibility this role implies and, as a consequence, stimulate a different interpretation from the conventional models, changing the discussion’s agenda or indicating sceneries that thus lead us to worry. As a global pioneer academic institution, we believed it was right to do something concrete to emphasize these activities.

Massimo Bottura and Massimo Montanari, the two Italians involved. The chef from Modena says: «With this award, we hope to share with the world the stories of the chefs who are using cooking for the benefit of a better future. We need people to nominate those who are fighting for this cause, even on a small scale: we’re all part of the revolution». And Montanari, professor of food history at Università di Bologna: «Cooking means following the rules, acting in the correct way and work as a team. Cooking is therefore a perfect way to understand how life works»

Massimo Bottura and Massimo Montanari, the two Italians involved. The chef from Modena says: «With this award, we hope to share with the world the stories of the chefs who are using cooking for the benefit of a better future. We need people to nominate those who are fighting for this cause, even on a small scale: we’re all part of the revolution». And Montanari, professor of food history at Università di Bologna: «Cooking means following the rules, acting in the correct way and work as a team. Cooking is therefore a perfect way to understand how life works»

With the idea of celebrating, acknowledging and promoting this development, in collaboration with the Basque government we created the Basque Culinary World Prize, so as to give an award, each year, to a chef who stood out thanks to development projects and thus underline, in a special way, how gastronomy can be the engine of change. With this, we want to make it possible for those who were most committed in this work to interact with each other; so they can inspire the new generations and mobilise those who try to make a difference.

Even though there already are various lists and awards, we’re happy to offer a different opportunity to identify, through an open nomination system (through the www.basqueculinaryworldprize.com website), projects by innovative chefs, wherever they are: men and women who work, entrepreneurs with a vocation for excellence; innovators and creative people; people who are tenacious, bold, go against the tide but most of all work hard for their community.

Joxe Mari Aizega, director of the Basque Culinary Center and author of the article for Identità Golose

Joxe Mari Aizega, director of the Basque Culinary Center and author of the article for Identità Golose

We’re happy to highlight the work of those who decide to make use of the kitchen to influence their society, both through culinary innovation, or projects on culture, social responsibility, sustainability and economic development; or through activities capable of having a positive impact on the food industry. We’ll give 100,000 euros to those who can express, in the strongest way, the power of this phenomenon, inviting them to donate the award to an institution or a development project, so as to contribute in strengthening and increasing successful activities.

A chef alone cannot change the world. We know that. But chefs can be an important part of the change. By respecting and even elevating the essence of their work – that is to say cooking – we can connect realities, become a way of structuring visions on themes we all share and, we hope, offer possible solutions.


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