Basque Culinary World Prize

Basque Culinary World Prize

Other 19th June 2024
Basque Culinary World Prize


Lima, Peru- June 19, 2024.

Spanish chef and former war reporter Andres Torres has been named winner of the Basque Culinary World Prize 2024 for the impact of his two interconnected projects, NGO Global Humanitaria and restaurant Casa Nova, that combine cooking, sustainability, and humanitarian efforts.

As founder and president of the NGO Global Humanitaria, Torres defends food security, education and children's rights across ten countries–Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, India, Cambodia, Ivory Coast, Guatemala, Jordan, Syria, and Ukraine– and operates in over 200 school canteens providing emergency relief in areas afflicted by armed conflict and natural disasters, facilitating survivors’ access to food, water, sanitation, shelter, and education.

Torres is also the owner and head chef of the sustainable restaurant, Casa Nova, based in Penedés (Barcelona), which donates a portion of its profit to fund Global Humanitaria. Casa Nova’s genuine sustainability and self-sufficiency have earned Torres a Michelin Green Star (2023). The restaurant also incorporates cooking practices and recipes based on know-how acquired from the communities Global Humanitaria has engaged with.

The Basque Culinary World Prize (BCWP), now in its ninth year, is a unique and pioneering prize awarded by the Basque Government, and the Basque Culinary Center, a leading academic institution in gastronomy, within the framework of the comprehensive Euskadi-Basque Country strategy. The award recognises chefs who are using their knowledge, talent, creativity and influence to create the changes needed in our society. The winner receives a prize of €100,000, which must be allocated to a project nominated by the winner.

In this context, in addition to Andres Torres, the jury has recognised the work of two other chefs by awarding special mentions to Gisela Medina (Argentina) for highlighting the long-undervalued ancestral cuisine of her region, the town of Mburucuyá, in the province of Corrientes (Argentina), and her approach to using gastronomy to drive economic development and employment in the area; and Ángel León (Spain) for shedding light on the unexplored potential of the ocean for sustainable food development and gastronomical innovation.

This announcement was made at T'impuy, an event held in Lima, which brought together leading international figures in the gastronomy sector. During the event, the new version of the 'Letter to the Chefs of Today and Tomorrow,' written by the International Council of the Basque Culinary Center, made up of some of the most influential chefs in the world, was also presented.

After receiving the award, Chef Andres Torres said:

I am deeply honoured and thrilled to have received the Basque Culinary World Prize. This recognition not only celebrates my work but also acknowledges the efforts of many dedicated individuals. It is particularly meaningful to join the ranks of professionals I admire who have received this prestigious award in recent years.

After over 25 years of undertaking solidarity projects, being awarded what many consider the 'Nobel of Gastronomy' reaffirms my belief that persistence and collaboration can indeed drive change. I am convinced that merging culinary expertise with solidarity can significantly impact lives, whether by promoting healthy habits or combating issues like child malnutrition. This award provides a crucial boost to the projects I lead, highlighting the power of our collective efforts.

I also hope that such awards inspire more professionals to become actively involved in making a positive difference.

Andres Torres has been chosen as the winner by a jury made up of representatives of the International Committee of the Basque Culinary Center and some of the most influential chefs in the world. Chaired by chef Joan Roca (Spain -El Celler de Can Roca), it includes other renowned chefs, such as Gastón Acurio (Peru), Pía León (Peru), Dominique Crenn (France/USA), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), Manu Buffara (Brazil), Elena Reygadas (Mexico), Trine Hahnemann (Denmark), Thitid Tassanakajohn (Thailand), Josh Niland (Australia), Narda Lepes (Argentina), and Mauro Colagreco (Argentina/France).

After the winner’s announcement, Joan Roca, President of the Jury of the Basque Culinary World Prize, said:
The winner of the BCWP 2024, Andrés Torres, is a chef who was formerly a war reporter and now undertakes solidarity campaigns, in addition to running his restaurant, Casa Nova, which is renowned for its extraordinary sustainability principles. The jury has recognised his significant contributions from a solidarity perspective, as well as his dedication to a cuisine rooted in tradition and essence, making him a deserving recipient of this year's award.

He is joined by Gisela from Argentina, who does outstanding work, and Ángel León, a chef well known for his remarkable efforts in showcasing the marine pantry and raising awareness about the importance of preserving our planet's resources.

Pía León, a member of the jury and one of the event hosts, highlighted the winner's work and said:

We are thrilled about the decisions we have made regarding the selection of the winner and the special mentions of the BCWP 2024. They represent the values and transformative power we seek to promote through the Basque Culinary World Prize; we hope they will serve as a reference and example for many others. We are very excited and wish that this can generate not only small changes in specific places but also foster a positive change in society.

Arantxa Tapia, Minister of Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment in the Basque Government, added:

Over the last few years, the Basque Culinary World Prize has become an increasingly important initiative, not only to share the stories of inspirational people, but also to show the world the values that are essential to the spirit of Euskadi. The Basque Government and the Basque Culinary Center established this project in 2016, and we are delighted with what has been achieved so far, and with the legacy we are creating and sharing with the world through those taking part, not only the winners, but all those who make it possible.

BCWP is part of the comprehensive strategy of the Euskadi Basque Country, which aims to promote our values and culture that celebrate hard work, determination, achievement and, of course, equality between men and women. In that sense, we believe that BCWP can also contribute to achieving a more just and sustainable world.

For his part, Joxe Mari Aizega, General Director of the Basque Culinary Center, said:

Gastronomy is a dynamic force that evolves and adapts to new contexts and changing needs. In today's world, more than ever, we need individuals who, through their talent, work, and above all, their actions, demonstrate how gastronomy can be a powerful tool for social transformation. BCWP, in its 9th edition, continues to shine a light on exemplary cases of positive change and societal impact. Andres Torres, the winner of this year's prize, has used his creativity and passion to fight for food security and children's rights, changing the lives of many people through gastronomy. Additionally, his work also prioritises sustainability and gastronomic restoration.

We also extend our warmest congratulations to Gisela Medina and Ángel León, our special mentions, who have joined the BCWP community of individuals whose work inspires widespread change.


Gisela Medina

From Mburucuyá, a small town located in the Argentine province of Corrientes that serves as a point of entry into the vast and remote Iberá Wetlands, Gisela Wadiana Medina launched the Iberá Chefs Network in 2017. This initiative has provided training and guidance to 80 cooks from the region, the majority of whom are women, empowering them to start their own businesses and earn an income by offering traditional cuisine from Corrientes to tourists.

Medina has been recognised for her innovative use of gastronomy to drive social development in a community with a low literacy rate and economic resources. Medina has revitalised the long-undervalued ancestral cuisine of her region, reinstating her community’s pride in their culture, and turning it into a catalyst for regional development, employment and tourism through her initiative Cocineros del Iberá, Iberá Chefs Network, the first network of its kind in the country.

Ángel León

Nestled in the Bay of Cádiz, Spain, 3 Michelin-starred restaurant Aponiente is where Ángel León dives deep into ocean research and development, showcasing the unexplored potential of marine foods. Against the backdrop of Santa María's decaying port, León also champions the restoration and conservation of polluted marshes and estuaries, viewing them as treasures of natural life and potential drivers of social and economic development.

Collaborating with universities and research groups, Aponiente's team focuses on uncovering new marine foods' potential, fueling innovative dishes on their menu and resulting in projects and conferences that showcase this potential, from flavour enhancers like marine plankton, honey, and sugars, to marine "cereals" such as Zostera, grown in the vicinity of Aponiente.

The selection process

With more than 1,250 nominations and nearly 850 nominees from 42 countries from the inception of BCWP, this prize, often dubbed the 'Nobel of Gastronomy' by the press, has drawn the attention of academics and internationally renowned experts, including some of the finest chefs of our time."

For two months, professionals and institutions from the industry nominated chefs from around the world who demonstrate that cooking can be a driver of change in areas such as social integration, sustainability and education, among others. For its part, the Basque Culinary Center team carried out an extensive process of researching and verifying nominees.

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