Dishing Up Change: Xanty Elías on future of gastronomy in schools

Basque Culinary World Prize

Basque Culinary World Prize

Other 14th December 2021
Basque Culinary World Prize

Dishing Up Change: Xanty Elías on future of gastronomy in schools

Xanty Elías received the Basque Culinary World Prize 2021 for using gastronomy to educate the next generation on healthy eating. He sat down with us to discuss how the prize has impacted “Los Niños se Comen El Futuro” and his plans to take the initiative global. 

1. How does winning the BCWP affect your plans for Los Niños se Comen El Futuro? What does it mean to you personally? 
It gives us a boost to expand our social impact, which is our primary aim. We will now be able to recruit more innovative schools, who can cover material and teaching costs, with their students generating in turn a greater number of scholarships to reach more disadvantaged schools. From this I hope we will have a greater chain of shared values between families, schools, Ampas, sponsors, public entities, etc. 
We will also produce new educational content, having now acquired more visibility, meaning we can align ourselves with new partners that share our goal of better education in childhood nutrition and also opening opportunities for collaborations with foundations in other countries, bringing our model overseas. 
Personally: Being the first chef with an award-winning Spanish project is an absolute dream come true, which gives us visibility and reinforces our goal. And it is in this goal that we are going to invest the entire prize, in increasing the number of children trained in cultural awareness and gastronomy, we could not be happier. We hope that society understands that gastronomy is born in each one of us from a young age, generating a multiplying value in society. 

2. What is your end goal for Los Niños se Comen El Futuro? 
To change education policy, so that we promote not only compulsory physical education in schools, but the other side of the coin, learning to eat, because food is essential for a healthy life. Schools have a duty, not only to feed their students well, but also to give them the tools to understand cooking and nutrition. 
The vocation of a teacher is to empower children in all areas of their lives, which is why gastronomic education is vital. We provide the complementary subject "Cultura Gastronómica Solidaria" that teaches the criteria of a balanced and healthy diet through games and experimentation. 

3. Covid-19 has hit the gastronomy and hospitality sectors hard. How did it impact this initiative? 
Covid-19 severely affected the entire third sector, and NGOs have responded with principle and action to this crisis, as the helping hand that never fails society.
We transformed our 20-seat Michelin star restaurant into a World Central Kitchen headquarters, an international entity chaired by former BCWP-winning chef José Andrés, to provide 1,000 meals a day to those most in need in Huelva during confinement. Gastronomy can and must transform society in every way.
Regarding the educational project, we had to adapt quickly to the digital world to get our content out. It was a very enriching experience. Now we’re happy that we can return to the classrooms to smell and taste ingredients, and receive visits from the volunteer Chefs of Eurotoques (European association of chefs, gastronomic partners of the project) who the children idolise. 

4. Do you have plans to expand your initiative outside of Spain? If so, where
We received calls from other European and Latin American countries from foundations that want to be ambassadors of "Los Niños se Comen El Futuro" in their country, where we are open to adapting the model and carrying out pilots to expand our social impact internationally. Becoming conscious consumers is a shared purpose and benefits everyone. 

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