Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe awarded the First Basque Culinary World Prize

The  Staff Canteen

Yesterday (Thursday, September 08, 2016) the first Basque Culinary World Prize was awarded to Venezuelan chef Maria Fernanda Di  Giacobbe at a special celebration gala held at the San Telmo Museum in San Sebastian.

Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe

Director of Economic Development for the Basque Government, Arantza Tapia, officially presented Venezuelan chef Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe with the prize.

During the ceremony Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe said: “This award will allow us to fast forward the establishment of the Cacao de Origen Emprendedores School in Caracas.  The prize is a tribute to the energy of thousands of women who have created a countrywide network of education and have been given back our dignity, identity, and culture by means of the chocolate trade. We continue to be inspired, happy and thankful.”

Maria will also be given 100 thousand euros to be donated to a project that reflects the power of gastronomy to transform lives.

The prize award also included a tribute to 40 years of new Basque cuisine, celebrating the work of the movement’s pioneers including Juan Mari Arzak, Pedro Subijana, Karlos Arguiñano, José Juan Castillo, Fombellida, Ramón Roteta and Patxiku Quintana.

A judging panel, led by Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca (Spain) and made up of some of the most important chefs in the world, chose Di Giacobbe from amongst 20 finalists because of the network of education, training, entrepreneurship, research, and development that she has developed around the cocoa bean in Venezuela. She has transformed it into a source of identity, culture, and financial stability, giving opportunities to women in economically vulnerable positions by empowering and training them, turning them into chocolate micro-entrepreneurs.

>>> Read more about the Basque Culinary World Prize here


The winner was decided by the Chefs of the Basque Culinary Center's International Council, including Ferran Adrià (Spain), Dominique Crenn (United States), Heston Blumenthal (United Kingdom), Massimo Bottura (Italy), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), and Enrique Olvera (Mexico). Other judges included the American researcher Harold McGee, the food history specialist Massimo Montanari, the Mexican writer Laura Esquivel, and Cristina Franchini – an expert in international law and humanitarian aid and part of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 

Joxe Mari Aizega, Director of the Basque Culinary Center, said: “Since the birth of new Basque cuisine forty years ago, this country has not stopped raising the bar and inspiring. Today, once again, the bar is being raised with the Basque Culinary World Prize.” 

The Basque Culinary World Prize was launched in February 2016 to celebrate the positive impact that gastronomy can have on society through the work of entrepreneurial and tenacious men and women.

The prize is promoted by the Basque Culinary Center and the Basque Government under the framework of the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th September 2016

Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe awarded the First Basque Culinary World Prize