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Heston Blumenthal joins Basque Culinary World Prize judging team

31 March 2016 by

Chef and TV presenter Heston Blumenthal is calling for innovative chefs with a social conscience to enter the inaugural Basque Culinary World Prize.

The competition, which aims to celebrate chefs who are improving society through gastronomy, will be judged by a host of leading culinary experts, including Blumenthal.

The prize will be awarded by the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) gastronomic university in San Sebastian, Spain, in July.

The competition is looking for contestants who can demonstrate that their work is making a positive impact both in the kitchen and in wider society, through methods such as culinary innovation, social responsibility, involvement in health or environmental campaigns, or works that benefit society through their positive impact on the food industry.

Nominations must be made by professionals working in the gastronomic world and must be received by 30 April this year. The judging panel will then choose the 20 strongest contenders by 26 May, with the winning candidate announced on 11 July 2016. The prize includes a €100,000 donation to an institution or project chosen by the winner that demonstrates the wider role of gastronomy in society.

Judges will include Elena Arzak, head chef at Michelin-starred Ametsa in London, Massimo Bottura, chef patron of the three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, Michel Bras, chef patron of three-Michelin-starred hotel restaurant Bras, in Aubrac in France; Dan Barber, chef and founder of the Michelin-starred Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan; and Enrique Olvera, head chef of Mexico's leading restaurant, Pujol.

Blumenthal, who has a track record for campaigning on social issues, including drug and alcohol abuse in the hospitality industry, said: "These awards are important as they identify men and women in gastronomy making a difference ‘beyond the kitchen' to create a change through innovation and creativity.

"Innovation and creativity is what I've always based my work on and I'm very passionate about it. I'm looking forward to celebrating chefs who are striving to improve society through gastronomy."

Joxe Mari Aizega, head of the Basque Culinary Centre, said: "We believe the world of gastronomy can have a positive influence on society when chefs take on the responsibilities that come with having a public voice. Our aim is to uncover examples of great work that has made a difference from chefs around the world, whether they are known or unknown."

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