The international and prestigious prize seeks to recognise individuals who ‘have improved society through gastronomy’, and is judged by some of the world’s most high-profile chefs.
Chef candidates for the award must be nominated by a gastronomic professional, or institution, via the Basque Culinary World Prize website. All nationalities are eligible. All nominations must state how the nominee’s gastronomy work acts a ‘powerful force for change’.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday 18 July at the meeting of the International Committee of the Basque Culinary Centre in Mexico City. The prize is €100,000 (£83,530) towards the winner’s project of choice.
Prize Jury panellists this year – who will judge the final ten nominations ‒ include chair Joan Roca (Spain), Dan Barber (US), Heston Blumenthal (UK), Ferran Adrià (Spain), Massimo Bottura (Italy), and Dominique Crenn (France).
Also judging will be Alex Atala (Brazil), Michel Bras (France), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), Enrique Olvera (Mexico) and René Redzepi (Denmark).
Last year’s winner, Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe of Venezuela, was celebrated for her educational and business work with chocolate, which helps economically vulnerable communities in Venezuela, and empowers women to improve their lives through becoming ‘chocolate entrepreneurs’.
She won out of 110 different chef nominations from over 30 countries.
“Since we won the prize, our work has taken on a new dimension,” says Giacobbe. “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.”
Alberto Crisci, founder of The Clink Charity and Restaurants training scheme that teaches hospitality skills to prisoners across the UK, was a runner-up in the 2016 contest.
He champions the value of the competition, and the pride he feels in being recognised for his work.
“I was honoured to be a runner up in the Basque Culinary World Prize 2016 and even more so to have been the only UK nominee picked from 110 international chefs,” he says. “I am delighted that my work with The Clink Charity has been recognised the world over by some of the most acclaimed chefs.
“The incredible recognition of the prize has put The Clink Charity and Restaurants firmly on the world’s culinary map which in turn helps to spread the important word of prisoner rehabilitation and supporting homeless young people into employment, not just within the UK but across the globe.”
The prize is organised by the Basque Government under the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC),, with the initial nominations whittled down to just 10 finalists by a Prize Committee including chef Elena Arzak and a diverse group of global food and culture experts.