The names of the ten finalists competing for the fourth edition of the Basque Culinary World Prizehave been released, with chefs and food activists from around the world making the cut.
Virgilio Martinez and Anthony Myint made the shortlist for a second consecutive year alongside eight newcomers like Douglas McMaster (UK) and Selassie Atadika (Ghana). Each of the ten food professionals has been selected for the prize, designed to highlight culinary professionals having apositive impact on society through gastronomy.
The award is promoted by the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastian and the winner, who will be announced on 16 July during an event hosted by Dominique Crennand will receive 100,000 Euros for a good cause of their choice after the award ceremony on 24 October in the Basque Country.
Nominations opened back in February, with any culinary professional able to nominate a fellow pro with their applications being assessed on merit. This year's interdisciplinary jury is chaired by Joan Roca (Spain) and includes, among others, Massimo Bottura, Gastón Acurio, Ferran Adrià, Michel Bras, Yoshihiro Narisawa and Enrique Olvera, as well as academics and renowned international experts in gastronomy.
Last year’s winner was Scottish/Australian chef Jock Zonfrillo, picked for his pioneering work with the Orana Foundation, a project to protect the culinary traditions of first Australians.
Here are the details of all this year’s finalists:
SELASSIE ATADIKA, GHANA
Selassie explores how food can tackle social challenges at her restaurant Midunu in Accra which she opened in 2014 and has since cultivated the concept of New African Cuisine. Working with an all female team Selassie hopes to inspire more women to move beyond their traditional roles as home cooks and into professions in Africa’s fine dining industry.
GIOVANNI CUOCCI, ITALY
Chef Cuocci runs an inspiring and innovative gastronomic-social co-operative at his restaurant-farm La Lanterna di Diogene near Modena, partnering with people with intellectual disabilities and offering them new professional opportunities as they grow, prepare and serve Emilia Romagna’s artisanal cuisine.
XANTY ELIAS, SPAIN
The chef of Michelin starred Acánthum in Huelva (Spain) and president of the Prenauta Foundation is an advocate for tourism, innovation and entrepreneurship, committed to both developing his region and healthy diets for children.
LARS WILLIAMS, US/DENMARK
The Copenhagen-based former director of the Nordic Food Lab and chef is exploring and collaborating in the world of distilled spirits at company Empirical Spirits. He also collaborates with activist and educator Chido Govera, the founder of Future of Hope in Zimbabwe to promote innovative ideas designed to empower local communities to explore the potential of their untapped culinary resources.
MARIO CASTRELLÓN, PANAMA
A chef and entrepreneur creating opportunities for social development in coffee-farming communities producing Geisha, one of the most exclusive and coveted coffee varieties in the world.
DOUGLAS MC MASTER, UK
The chef at Silo, the first zero-waste restaurant in the United Kingdom, that has since become an international phenomenon. motivating young chefs around the world to waste nothing.
SIEW-CHINN CHIN, MALAYSIA, US
Siew-Chinn Chin is dedicated to promoting organic and healthy eating habits in the US, advocating for a paradigm shift away from fast food culture through initiatives such as The Charlie Cart Project.
CRISTINA MARTINEZ, MEXICO,US
The Mexican chef is fighting for the rights of immigrants leveraging the success of her South Philly Barbecue restaurant (among the best openings of 2016, according to Bon Appètit) to give voice to the controversial struggle of undocumented workers in America.
VIRGILIO MARTINEZ, PERU
Chef Virgilio Martínez, together with his sister Malena in Mater Iniciativa, leads an interdisciplinary team that is building a documentation, exchange and experimentation platform with which it also promotes a particular vision of issues such as biodiversity (both environmental and social). With MIL, a new restaurant at an altitude of over 3,500 metres facing the Inca ruins of Moray, he consolidates an inspiring model of non-invasive interaction with the ecosystem and local communities, promoting sustainable agricultural practices, knowledge exchange and multicultural dialogues.
ANTHONY MYINT, US
The San Fracisco based chef is takling climate change with his ZeroFoodprint initiative that draws attention to the environmental impact of restaurants and provides tools for chefs to reduce or eliminate their businesses’ carbon footprint, regardless of location. He also heads up The Perennial Farming Initiative promoting sustainable agriculture practices.
In the latest in our Beyond the Line Series, Fine Dining Lovers speaks to a former student of the Basque Culinary Center about the professional opportunities for chefs outside of the restaurant kitchen.