Frequent questions


What is the Basque Culinary World Prize?
The Basque Culinary World Prize is an international achievement award, first conferred in 2016, which recognises one exceptional chef whose impact can be felt ‘beyond the kitchen, demonstrating how gastronomy can be a powerful force for change.

The winner will have improved society in some way through gastronomy; this could be through culinary innovation, a commitment to social responsibility, sustainability or the economic development of their community; involvement in health or environmental campaigns, the promotion of pioneering cultural projects, or works that benefit society through their positive impact on the food industry. They will receive €100,000 to devote to a social project of their choice that demonstrates the wider role of the chef in society.

Chefs from anywhere in the world can be nominated for the prize by anyone active in the world of food via the prize website

What is the timescale for the prize -nominations, long listing, shortlisting, etc.?
The nomination process was open until 19 May 2017. After this deadline, the nominations first passed to a Prize Committee made up of academics and other leading experts with a connection to gastronomy. In June 13, the Prize Committee decided which nominations met the judging criteria and put forward a ‘long list’ of the 10 strongest candidates to the Prize Jury. A decision on which of these 10 chefs should win will be made by the Prize Jury, by majority vote if necessary, when they meet in person in Mexico City on July 17. The result will then be announced immediately.
Who is behind the prize?
The Basque Culinary Center (BCC) is one of the most prestigious gastronomic universities in the world, with a groundbreaking Research and Innovation Center. It was established in 2011 with the backing of some of the world’s most influential chefs to promote education, research and innovation in gastronomy. The BCC wants to change the conversation about the factors that make up a good chef and contribute to a deeper understanding of what cooking is about. It seeks to draw attention to the way that chefs are using gastronomy to improve society.

The Basque Government are interested in promoting social inclusiveness, innovation and innovation around the world. Together with gastronomy, these are values of the prize that are already closely associated with the Basque Country – values they want to celebrate through the prize.

Is this prize an annual prize?
A decision is made each year on the timing of the next prize. This is the second consecutive year there has been a prize.
Who is funding the prize?
The prize is a public-private initiative. It receives funding from the Euskadi Basque Country as part of a strategy of inter-agency support from the Basque Government.

Rules/Judging process

How do people nominate a chef?
Through our website where they can fill in a nomination form.
Who is eligible to win the prize?
The prize can be won by anyone who is responsible or a ‘transformative project’ in gastronomy that has had an impact on society. They must have a background working as a professional chef from anywhere in the world.
Do nominees have to be working as a chef at present?
No, we do not stipulate that they have to be working at this moment as a chef – but they must have a background working as a professional chef.
Can chefs that were nominated and/or were shortlisted last year be nominated again this year?
Yes. The only exception is that previous winners of the Basque Culinary World Prize are not eligible to be nominated.
Can one person nominate more than one candidate?
Yes, people can nominate as many candidates as think are worthy of consideration.
Do nominees have to be qualified chefs?
No, we don’t stipulate that they have to have particular qualifications but they must have a background as a professional chef.
Can chefs apply directly to win the prize themselves?
No, chefs have to be nominated by someone else who is active in the world of gastronomy. There is no direct process of application for chefs.
How will you verify that the information given to you about nominated chefs is accurate?
We do of course conduct some checks but the key thing is that the nomination process is not a ‘voting system.’ Any name brought forward by this process will be scrutinised by the Prize Committee and then, if they then make the Top 10 ‘long list’, will also be scrutinised by the Prize Jury.
Are members of the BCC, Prize Committee or Prize Jury able to nominate chefs for the prize?
No, the members of the board of the BCC, the Prize Committee and the Jury cannot nominate candidates for the BCWP.
How will the prize be judged? Will more weight be placed on any particular elements of the judging process over others (e.g. gastronomic excellence or social responsibility)?
The winner will have improved society through gastronomy. This could be for instance through culinary innovation, a commitment to social responsibility, sustainability or the economic development of their community. How these are weighted will be a matter for the Prize Jury during their deliberations.
Can members of the BCC, its local or International Board, Prize Committee or Jury be nominated for the prize?
No, the BCC board, International Committee, Prize Committee and Jury cannot be nominated for the prize.
Do you take into account how many nominations a candidate receives in deciding which Top 10 chefs should be put forward to the Jury?
No, the purpose of the nominations process is to gather names of potential winners. Whether someone is nominated once or a hundred times, their nomination will be given equal consideration by the Prize Committee.

About the Jury

Who is part of the Prize Committee in 2017?
Elena Arzak – one of the most celebrated female chefs in the world and a head chef at Arzak; Dr F. Xavier Medina – a social anthropologist and leading scholar of Food and Culture; Marta Miguel Castro – an expert in food science; Jorge Ruiz Carrascal – Professor of the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen; and Melissa Shannon Di Pietro, co-founder of the Yale Sustainable Food Project and Managing Director of Rene Redzepi’s influential MAD Foundation, in Copenhagen.
Who is part of the Jury in 2017?
The Prize Jury will be chaired by Joan Roca (Spain) and will include chefs such as Gastón Acurio (Peru), Michel Bras (France), Dominique Crenn (US), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), Enrique Olvera (Mexico) among other members of the International Board of the BCC. Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe, winner of the first BCWP, will also be part of this body.

Leading experts from related disciplines will join the prize jury including celebrated Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel (author of Like Water for Chocolate); the agricultural entrepreneur Matthew Goldfard; Kirmen Uribe, renowned Basque novelist, poet and playwright; and Cristina Francini, an expert on International Law and Human Rights.

How will the prize jury make their decision?
The Prize Jury will decide on a winner from this list at a face-to-face meeting in Mexico City on July 17. If no consensus is reached, they will decide on the winner by majority vote.
What qualification do these chefs have to be able to decide on a winner for this prize?
The International Committee of the Basque Culinary Center includes many of the world’s most celebrated chefs. In their own way, each have already shown how society can be improved through gastronomy. They have established foundations to curate their body of knowledge for future generations. The winner of the Basque Culinary World Prize 2017 will be selected by these most exceptional of their peers. At the same time, we have also invited additional major figures from the world of gastronomy to join the Jury who will bring in wider expertise.
If the Jury knows any of these chefs in the ‘Top 10 long list’ will they acknowledge that they have a conflict of interest?
If judges on the Prize Jury know a particular candidate, they are free to remove themselves from particular conversations about the winner or declare their relationship with the winner after the announcement of the prize result.
Won’t the judges in the end be biased towards those chefs that they know?
The BCC has a reputation for academic rigour and will bring this detached and objective perspective to the prize, robustly examining the achievements of chefs across a range of culinary, social and economic criteria. They will provide a ‘long list’ of Top 10 from which the Jury choose the winner. We are confident that the Jury will take a detached view.
How do you encourage nominations from lesser known chefs and countries less famous for their culinary expertise?
Anyone who is actively involved in the world of gastronomy can nominate a candidate from anywhere in the world via the Basque Culinary World Prize website. We also invite higher education institutions around the world to nominate candidates. Through these networks, we expect to find out about lesser-known chefs.
If there is an obvious, important candidate that has happened not to be nominated, can the Prize Commitee/Jury put forward their own names?
No, chefs have to be nominated through the website to be eligible for the prize. The Prize Committee and the Jury cannot nominate their own candidates.
Won’t the judging process be biased in favour of Basque chefs?
No, this is an international Prize awarded by an international gastronomic institution. The judging process will be scrupulously fair. Both the Prize Committee and the Jury are extremely international in composition, so it’s difficult to see how any bias could occur.

About the prize

Can someone win the prize more than one?
No, the prize can only be awarded to a chef once in their career.
What will the winner receive?
The winner will receive €100,000 to devote to a gastronomic social project of their choice in line with criteria that is laid down by the Basque Culinary Center.
How will this €100,000 be monitored to ensure it is spent in the right way and not used for commercial ends?
After we have informed the winner that they have won the Basque Culinary World Prize, we will ask them to nominate a project that they want to support. We will look into the project to check that we think it is a worthy project that improves society through gastronomy. This can of course be a project with which they are associated, but there must not be any profit from which the winning chef makes direct commercial gain.
Will you tell the winning chef in advance that he/she has won?
No, they will find out at the same time as the rest of the world when the news is announced in Mexico City on July 17. The prize will be officially awarded at an event in the Basque Country in Autumn 2017.
There are many other culinary awards out there? What makes this prize different?
It is certainly true that chefs are more celebrated than ever before in our culture. However, we think there is a need for an award that celebrates chefs who have improved society through gastronomy. Other prominent awards are for the best restaurant or for the technical skills of a chef. With this award, we are looking at the wider spectrum: the chef that has made a great positive impact on society, whether they are known or unknown – in their community, their country or the world.

We don’t want to draw comparisons with other prizes. We think the unique feature of the Basque World Culinary Prize is that it is judged by the world’s best chefs – so the winner will have won the respect of the most lauded chefs in the world.