In recent years, several high-profile chefs have sought to use their craft and stature to improve the world around them. José Andrés and Tom Colicchio have done advocacy work for hunger relief. Alice Waters has morphed her farm-to-table movement into a campaign to improve the health and sustainability of lunch programs in US schools.
Now there’s an award out there for people like them—a sort of Nobel peace prize for chefs with a flare for activism that goes beyond their bustling kitchens.
The winner of the Basque Culinary World Prize is set to be announced July 11, and it will go to one of 20 finalists hailing from four different continents. The winner will be selected by member of the international council of the Basque Culinary Center, a culinary school in San Sebastián, Spain.
The prize includes €100,000 (about $111,000) for a project chosen by the winner. Here are the finalists and some of the creative things they’ve been doing:
- Joshna Maharaj (Canada) — Rethinking and redesigning her local food supply chain.
- Gabriel Garza (Mexico) — Runs a project that trains the blind how to cook for themselves.
- Alicia Gironella (Mexico) — Has a program to preserve threatened native Mexican ingredients.
- José Andrés (US) — Set up smart school kitchens to train people how to cook and then use their skills.
- Daniel Boulud (US) — Co-director of New York City hunger charity CityMeals on Wheels.
- Ann Cooper (US) — Contributions to work in infant obesity and malnutrition in America.
- Jessamyn Rodriguez (US) — Teaches low-income, minority, and immigrant women how to bake.
- David Hertz (Brazil) — Trains socially vulnerable people how to cook and how to train others.
- Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari (Bolivia) — Their Melting Pot Project trains vulnerable young people.
- Leonor Espinosa (Colombia) — Works with afro-descendent, indigenous people to promote food traditions.
- Manoela Buffara (Brazil) — Is fighting to preserve regional ingredients and farming methods.
- Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe (Venezuela) — Runs a program introducing women to chocolate production.
- Rodolfo Guzman (Chile) — Looks for creative ways to change food habits throughout Chile.
- Teresa Corção (Brazil) — Founded Instituto Maniva to nurture organic farmers.
- Alberto Crisci (UK) — For his work in prisoner rehabilitation through culinary training.
- Ángel León (Spain) — For his campaigning to treat the resources of the ocean fairly.
- Carlos Zamora (Spain) — Runs a project that trains and employs young people with learning disabilities.
- Massimiliano Alajmo (Italy) — Funds research into children’s neoplastic diseases.
- Nani Moré (Spain) — Directs documentaries highlighting the need to feed healthy food to children.
- Margot Janse (South Africa) — For the program Feeding Hungry Minds, which feeds underfed schoolchildren.