The first Basque Culinary World Prize was awarded to Venezuelan chef Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe by Arantza Tapia (Director of Economic Development for the Basque Government) at the San Telmo Museum in San Sebastian. The prize, which was created to recognize chefs who transform society through gastronomy, is promoted by the Basque Culinary Center and the Basque Government under the framework of the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy.
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.
The winning chef was also given 100 thousand euros to be donated to a project that reflects the power of gastronomy to transform lives.