What is the Basque Culinary World Prize?
The Basque Culinary World Prize (BCWP) is an international award created to celebrate the way gastronomy can transform our society, by recognizing chefs who have made an impact “beyond the kitchen”. Promoted since 2016 by the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) and the Basque Government, this prize underlines the strength of gastronomy as a driving force for change.
The BCWP celebrates gastronomy’s evolution impelled by a generation of chefs who realized that they could make a difference in society beyond the kitchen: over time their initiatives have blossomed into an international and ever-expanding movement.
Chefs of any nationality can be nominated for prize, either for a sustained work throughout his or her career or for specific initiatives. All active professionals from the world of gastronomy – for example a fellow chef, food writer, food supplier, or an institution – can submit as many nominations as they consider necessary at www.basqueculinaryworldprize.com.
The prize includes a grant of 100,000 euros to be spent on a project of the winner’s choosing that expresses the transformative power of cuisine.
What has the significance of this award been for the industry?
Industry pundits liken the BCWP to a Nobel Prize for gastronomy, as this award shows steadfast commitment to honoring the transformative roles that chefs play in today’s global society.
This year marks the 5th edition of this pioneering and visionary prize, which is made possible by the best chefs in the world. Thus, the BCWP has become the highest honor of its kind, that is, a distinction celebrating the unique ability of cooking to make a significant impact on society.
With this year’s prize committee receiving 600 nominations for over 450 potential nominees, the steadily expanding effect of socially-engaged gastronomy is undeniable: around the world, chefs are using their knowledge, talent, creativity and leadership to build bridges between gastronomy and such key areas as innovation, education, sustainability, the environment, social development, healthcare, technology, and much more.
What constitutes a chef with “transformative initiatives”?
When we talk about transformation, we are talking about change. Thus, the Basque Culinary World Prize aims to recognize chefs with a transformative vocation whose work brings about relevant changes in areas such as education, health, nutrition, environment, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, industry, social or economic development, among others. This award seeks out professionals who put their knowledge, creativity and leadership skills to use to influence society in a positive way, as so many culinary professionals are doing around the world today.
What the Basque Culinary World Prize is not:
BCWP awards people (not projects) with a career and/or prominent actions in areas such as development, innovation, research and creativity. It is not a prize exclusively for chefs with charitable or social projects. We are interested in chefs with projects that demonstrate innovation, research and creativity. We believe that chefs can have a positive impact on society in many different ways. The scope of the prize is not restricted to those involved in charitable work or explicitly helping disadvantaged groups, as important as those activities are. We understand that a chef’s impact can also be felt in broader and more diverse ways.
BCWP is not an award designed to honor celebrity chefs. The BCWP gives equal consideration to all qualified nominated candidates regardless of their origin or degree of fame, or lack thereof. What the BWCP is looking for are chefs who, through their work, deftly wield the transformative capacity of gastronomy.
The BCWP is also not designed to fund chefs future projects. But rather, the objective is to spotlight the consistent and sustained endeavors of chefs working in different areas, highlighting the scope of their actions and the exponential potential of being awarded with this distinction.
What is the timeline for the prize?
The nomination period begins at the end of March and comes to a close at the end of May (2021). The nominated candidates will first be analyzed by the BCWP Technical Committee, comprised of by academics and experts from the field of gastronomy. In July, the BCWP Jury, whose members are chefs and experts in gastronomy, will meet to deliberate and select the winner (by majority vote). The BCWP award ceremony will take place in the Basque Country in November, COVID-related conditions permitting.
Who backs the prize?
The prize is granted and promoted by the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) and Basque Government through the framework of the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy. The BCC was founded in 2011 with the support of some of the world’s most influential chefs to promote education, research and innovation in gastronomy. Through this prize the BCC aims to promote a deeper understanding of what cooking represents today, by inviting us to reflect on the role that chefs play in today’s society, as well as the way in which cuisine can serve as a transformative force in society.
The Basque Government promotes this prize as part of the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy. This initiative is supported by all Basque governmental institutions and celebrates the Basque Country for its deeply engrained values such as a strong work ethic, dedication, tenacity, talent for transformation and equal opportunities for men and women.
Is it an annual prize?
This is the sixth consecutive edition of the prize. At the end of each year, the next edition of the prize is reviewed and evaluated.
Who funds the prize?
The prize is a public-private initiative that receives funds from the Basque Government.
What is the BCWP Technical Committee?
This group is responsible for screening, researching, fact-checking and analyzing the impact generated by the chefs nominated for the award. Members are interdisciplinary professionals from the Basque Culinary Center. The Technical Committee is also responsible for preparing a report on the 10 finalists to be considered by the Jury.
What the winner can and cannot do with the €100,000 prize:
The winner must allocate the award endowment to a single project that demonstrates the expansive and transformative effects of gastronomy.
The winner cannot allocate the prize money without following the due process: working with the BCWP promoters, the winner must confirm their proposal to ensure that the BCWP values are reflected and that other requirements are fulfilled.
How are chefs nominated?
Chefs can be nominated online via www.basqueculinaryworldprize.com.
Who can submit a nomination?
Any professional in the gastronomic field. The knowledge, strength and voice of the international culinary community are crucial to discovering people with transformative initiatives who may not be known by the greater public.
What profile should be considered when nominating a candidate?
Chefs of any nationality can be nominated for the award, based on their life’s work or on specific initiatives. We are looking for transformative professionals: men and women of any nationality or culinary culture who reflect how cooking can contribute to scientific or technological advances: such as, how to combat global warming; or how to spur innovation in the food industry, education, or biodiversity, etc.; or who demonstrate how to promote change in consumption patterns, or strengthen social and economic progress through regional initiatives; or how to ally with local producers, native cultures or vulnerable communities in a globalized world, and much more.
Do the nominees have to be currently working in a kitchen?
Not necessarily. They should, however, have a background as a chef.
Can a chef nominate him or herself for the prize?
No, chefs must be nominated by active professionals of the gastronomy sector, institutions or other industry-based entities.
Can a chef who was nominated in previous years be nominated again in 2020, even if he or she was once among the finalists?
Yes, if the nominee’s work has progressed during the past year and deserves to be reconsidered. The only exception are winners of previous editions of the Basque Culinary World Prize, since the same person cannot win the award twice.
Do nominations remain anonymous?
The nominations are analyzed and fact-checked by the BCWP Technical Committee. Nominees’ personal information is not shared with the Jury. The BCWP guarantees complete confidentiality.
Can one person nominate more than one candidate?
Yes, a person can nominate as many candidates as they consider necessary.
Must nominated chefs have certain qualifications?
No, the candidates do not require any formal qualifications or academic certifications to be nominated. However, he or she must have a professional background as a chef.
How is the information provided about nominees verified?
The BCWP Secretariat validates the information included in the nominations. It investigates and prepares a detailed report with all the necessary information for the individual evaluation of each candidate.
Can members of the Board and International Council of BCC or the Technical Committee and Jury of BCWP nominate candidates?
How will the winner be evaluated and selected? Do some criteria have more weight than others, for example, culinary excellence or social responsibility?
The winner has to demonstrate through concrete action the transforming power of gastronomy either through specific projects or a sustained impact throughout his or her career. The Prize Jury will deliberate to decide which finalist best represents this values of the BCWP. There is no formal weighting of the criteria – it is up to the Jury to decide.
Can members of the Board and International Council of BCC or the Technical Committee and the Jury of BCWP be nominated?
No. All of them are excluded for being part of the prize.
Is the number of nominations received by a candidate taken into account when the finalists are selected by the Technical Committee?
No, the purpose of the nomination process is to compile a list of potential winners. Whether a person is nominated once or receives dozens of nominations, the candidature is evaluated in the same way.
About the Jury
Who are the members of the Jury in 2021?
The Jury consists of the members of the BCC International Council, along with interdisciplinary experts as featured guests, all of whom come together to select the winner.
How does the Jury make their decision?
During a closed meeting, the Jury will deliberate over the finalists until choosing, by majority, the new winner of the Basque Culinary World Prize. Candidates will be assessed from an interdisciplinary perspective. Their profiles will be evaluated based upon their projects context, relevancy, and impact.
What qualifies the chefs on the Jury to choose the winner of this prize?
The members of International Council of the Basque Culinary Center are prime examples of how gastronomy can be a transformative force. The Council members exemplify the mission of this award, having promoted new approaches to and perspectives on cuisine. Thus, the chefs and experts from other fields that comprise the Jury are qualified to make this decision based on an interdisciplinary approach.
If a member of the Jury have a personal or a professional relationship with one of the ten finalists, could this situation affect the Jury’s decision?
If a Jury member works with or is associated with any of the candidates, the Jury member will not take part of the evaluation of this candidate.
How does the BCWP encourage nominations of chefs and countries that are less known for their culinary expertise?
Anyone directly involved in the culinary world can nominate candidates from anywhere in the world via the Basque Culinary World Prize website. We also invite academic institutions to submit nominations. Through these networks, we hope to identify lesser-known chefs.
About the prize
Who can win this prize?
Chefs who are transforming society through gastronomy and making an impact “beyond the kitchen”. Men and women who use their kitchens to influence society, by working in fields such as culinary innovation, health, nutrition, education, environment, social development or, in general, through actions that have a positive impact on the food industry, regardless of his or her degree of public recognition or country of origin. In order to be considered, candidates must have a professional culinary career and be involved in concrete actions. Their work will be assessed, as well as the relevance, context and the impact generated.
Can there be a draw?
What does the winner receive?
The winner receives 100,000 Euros that he or she must donate to a transformative project of his or her preference. The designated project must comply with the criteria established by the Basque Culinary World Prize.
How does the BCWP ensure that the prize money is used appropriately and not for commercial purposes?
After the winner is notified that he or she has been awarded with the Basque Culinary World Prize, the winner’s chosen project is reviewed to determine if it makes a valuable contribution in terms of transforming society through gastronomy. The winning chef may be involved with the chosen project, but the chef cannot receive any commercial profit directly from it. Subsequent use of the prize money must be fully documented. The prize promoters ensure proper use of the award money.