Chefs create culinary award that goes beyond the kitchen

 books by chefs

A group of the world's top chefs recently announced a new global culinary prize aimed at rewarding cooks who use their skills to make an impact beyond the kitchen. The award, created by the Spanish Basque Culinary Centre, is slated for cooks with "an initiative in the gastronomic area that will be strongly engaged with society."

Top chefs Joan Roca of famed restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, Heston Blumenthal from The Fat Duck, and Peru's Gaston Acurio will be on the jury of the award. While these chefs hail from fine dining establishments, the award won't be limited to chefs from those types of eateries. "The key of the award is that it doesn't necessarily have to be haute cuisine," Roca told AFP.

Celebrity chefs have frequently used their fame and skills for charitable work, like Jamie Oliver who campaigned for healthy school dinners and Gaston Acurio, who has opened a culinary school for underprivileged children in Peru. But until now, there hasn't been an award aimed at such philanthropy. "Every year the prize will go to a chef who demonstrates how gastronomy can translate into a transformative force," said Joxe Mari Aizega, general manager of the Basque Culinary Centre. "It will help to highlight the work that is being done the world over -- projects linked to cultural themes, social responsibility, sustainability or economic development."

To be considered for the prize, chefs must be nominated online by a professional from the gastronomy world. The winner will receive 100,000 euros ($109,000 USD) that he or she will have to reinvest into a project "that demonstrates the wider role of gastronomy in society."

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