Skip to navigationSkip to content
Reuters/Yuya Shino
Food for thought.
CULINARY CHANGEMAKERS

One of the best culinary schools in the world is about to award the Nobel Prize of food

By Chase Purdy

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:

North America

  • 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.

South America

Europe

  • 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.

Africa

  • Margot Janse (South Africa) — For the program Feeding Hungry Minds, which feeds underfed schoolchildren.