The History of the Basque Culinary World Prize (#WorldWineTravel)

For the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of covering the Basque Culinary World Prize in my column for Forbes. While this isn’t directly a wine-related competition, it was wine that drew me to learn more about the background of the award.

I’ve long been interested in visiting Basque Country, an autonomous community with a traditional culture and language. In line with this, there is also a rich food and wine tradition in the region, and this had captured my imagination many years ago.

In fact, the Basque culture is so closely tied to what people eat and drink, that the prize originated to recognize chefs from around the world that use “power of gastronomy” to better the world. It makes sense: when one feeds another person, there is connection. When one sits across the table to share a glass or plate, distance is removed. When one considers the implications of how food is produced and consumed, there is empathy. Food (and wine IS food) is a measure of our most basic human need as well as a reflection of our ability to experience pleasure and joy. Is there anything more evocative of the human spirit than eating?

“A generation of international chefs have now expanded their role in society and redefined their profession by reaching a broader sphere of influence beyond the kitchen. All over the world, chefs have come to understand that they can use their knowledge, leadership, entrepreneurship and creativity to be part of the transformation of society.”

~ The Basque Culinary World Prize

Promoted since 2016 by the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) and the Basque Government, the prize is in its 6th year, with nominees being considered as of the writing of this article. A council of international chefs will participate in the selection of the winner. The International Council includes: Massimo Bottura (Italy), Joan Roca (Spain), Dan Barber (United States), Gastón Acurio (Peru), Ferran Adrià (Spain), Alex Atala (Brazil), Heston Blumenthal (United Kingdom), Michel Bras (France), Enrique Olvera (Mexico), Rene Redzepi (Denmark), Dominique Crenn (France/United States), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), Trine Hahnemann (Denmark) and Mauro Colagreco (France).

From one of my pieces in Forbes: I spoke to Asier Alea, a member of the group that developed the BCWP and general manager of trade promotion and tourism for the Government of Biscay, about the origination of the prize. He likened it to the Nobel Prize or the Pritzker Architecture Prize. While the award is by nature highly competitive, it is meant to be more than an accolade but rather a vehicle for further contribution and a demonstration of what the winner has “achieved and given to society.”

Past winners are José Andrés (2020), Anthony Myint (2019), Jock Zonfrillo (2018), Leonor Espinosa (2017), and Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe. (Read bios here.)

Stay tuned for more coverage as the winner is announced in July 2021!

Additional Reading

The Transformative Power Of Gastronomy: The Basque Culinary World Prize

Winner Of Basque Culinary World Prize: ‘Give Back More Than You Take’

2019 Basque Culinary World Prize Winner Anthony Myint Uses Cooking For Climate Solutions

World Wine Travel

Interested in more Basque food, wine, and travel culutre? Don’t miss our Twitter chat Saturday, June 26th at 8:00 am PT, 17:00 CET using hashtag #WorldWineTravel.

Here’s a preview of the articles you’ll enjoy and the authors that will be online this Saturday morning:

Basque Country Means Pintxos and Txakolina by Jeff at Food Wine Click

Fish Friday in the USA with a Spanish Txakolina Rosé by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm

Two Versions of Txakoli, Perfect Summer Wines from Susannah at Avvinare

Pintxos and Txakoli – a celebration of Basque Country from Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles 

Almejas en Salsa Verde (Clams in Green Sauce) + 2019 Zudugarai “Amats” Getariako Txakolina from Cam at Culinary Adventures with Camilla 

Basque Country Wines for Beginners and Great Food Pairings from Teri at Our Good Life

Recalling Spain: Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis and Shrimp from Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Tasty Txakolina from Basque Country calls for fish by Linda at My Full Wine Glass

Basque’s Effervescent Txakolina #WorldWineTravel from Gwendolyn at Wine Predator

The History of the Basque Culinary World Prize by Jill on L’Occasion

First Photo by Olya Kobruseva

Second Photo by Jaymantri

5 thoughts on “The History of the Basque Culinary World Prize (#WorldWineTravel)

  1. What a fabulous competition that looks at a larger view, more than food, contribution to the world. Thank you for guiding us on this exploration of the beautiful Basque Country this month!


  2. This sounds like such an amazing award and both the panel and the recipients are incredibly impressive. Can’t wait to learn more and see who wins this year!


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