Chef José Andrés has been announced as the winner of the Basque Culinary World Prize 2020 for his inspirational work with World Central Kitchen (WCK), and has pledged to give away all of the €100,000 prize money, splitting it equally between the ten other chefs who warranted a special mention.
"Each 'special mention' will be able to change the world in many different ways. The money will allow each of the NGOs to move forward," said Andrés upon receiving the award.
The Spanish-American chef and owner of a chain of restaurants in the US established WCK a decade ago, forming a collaborative initiative between chefs across the world. He has since fed those in need during natural disasters, from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas to the bush fires in Australia, as well as coming to the fore in the US and Spain during the coronavirus pandemic, running around 150 kitchens in 10 cities with the support of local chefs, food banks and the Red Cross.
Over the past months his tireless work has become the embodiment of an unprecedented collective effort to the crisis by chefs and the gastronomic sector across the world. As well as facilitating access to food in regions facing shortages, he has provided direct support to restaurant staff struggling with restaurant and bar closures, and backed government bills to feed the needy.
This fifth edition of the prize is particularly poignant given the extraordinary circumstances in which it lands. As such it offers ten special mentions, naming chefs from around the world that have provided invaluable support and work during this difficult time. Thanks to Andres' generosity, they will each receive €10,000 for their respective projects.
Photo: Courtesy of BCC
Andrés was chosen by a jury made up of the world's most influential chefs including Joan Roca (El Cellar de Can Roca), Ferrán Adrià (El Bulli Foundation), Mauro Colagreco (Mirazur), Gastón Acurio (Acurio Restaurants), Manu Buffara (Manu), Dan Barber (Blue Hill Farm), Eneko Atxa (Azurmendi), Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn), Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz), Enrique Olvera (Pujol), Trine Hahnemann (Hahnemanns Køkken) and Yoshihiro Narisawa (Les Créations de Narisawa).
Joan Roca, Chair of the Prize Jury, said:
"In view of this year’s exceptional circumstances, our responsibility had to rise to the current challenges. After an intense process of reflection, we wanted to focus the award on the challenge facing the entire planet due to COVID-19 – a challenge that chef Jose Andrés has faced with courage, bravery and a titanic effort. His admirable dedication to work, his ability to deal with humanitarian crises and his present and evident leadership have served as a source of inspiration for many people who have joined its World Central Kitchen initiative around the world. It’s a project that has also made visible the work of volunteers who have turned gastronomy into a strong social tool ".
The Basque Culinary World Prize is a unique €100,000 award for chefs around the world whose work has transformed society through gastronomy, and is awarded by the Basque Culinary Centre, a world leading gastronomic institution, and the Basque Government.
New this year, the BCWP jury have also recognised the work of the 10 other shortlisted chefs, granting special recognition to:
10 Special Mentions
Mariana Aleixo - Maré de Sabores (Brazil)
For her work in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro with Maré de Sabores.
Elijah Amoo Addo - Food For All Africa (Ghana)
For projects such as Food for All Africa and Chefs on Wheels in Ghana
Greg Baxtrom - Olmsted (USA)
For leading welfare drives in response to the pandemic in New York.
GHETTO GASTRO (USA)
For chefs Jon Gray, Lester Walker, Malcolm Livingston II, and Pierre Serrao a mission to diversify the gastronomy scene and challenge stereotypes with their cooking collective Ghetto Gastro in New York.
Simon Boyle - Beyond Food (UK)
For providing relief to disadvantaged groups in London with Brigade.
Tracy Chang, Off Their Plate (USA)
For Off Their Plate and Project Restore Us in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
David Hertz - Gastromotiva / Social Gastronomy Movement (Brazil)
For leading food banks and facilitating other initiatives in Brazil and Mexico
Ed Lee - Lee Initiative (USA)
For inspiring community work on behalf of restaurant employees across the United States.
Juan Llorca - Por una Escuela bien Nutrida (Spain)
For assisting parents during lockdown by providing healthy, simple recipes for children via YouTube.
Nicole Pisani - Chefs in Schools (UK)
For providing food to disadvantaged young people while school canteens were closed.
Last year’s winner was US chef Anthony Myint for his work tackling climate change, Scottish/Australian chef Jock Zonfrillo was chosen for his pioneering work with the Orana Foundation in 2018, Leonor Espinosa won in 2017 for her work reviving Columbian culinary traditions, and María Fernanda Di Giacobbe from Venuzuela won the inaugural edition in 2016 for her contribution to the local cacao industry.