The finalists for the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize 2018 have been announced and a Scottish chef has made the final shortlist.

Glasgow born  Jock Zonfrillo was chosen by the judges for his passion and dedication towards safeguarding the culinary tradition of the first Australians.

He will now go up against Chefs from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Peru, Spain, Turkey and the US for the award, which celebrates trailblazing chefs whose work has had a transformative impact “beyond the kitchen”.

If Zonfrillo wins, he will be awarded €100,000 to devote to a project or institution of his choice that expresses the ethos of the prize: to transform society through gastronomy.

Now in its third year, the award is organised and promoted by the Basque Government under the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC), a world leading academic institution in gastronomy.

With over 140 chefs nominated from over 42 countries, this year the prize received the largest pool of applicants to date.

To be considered for the award, chefs had to be nominated by another professional currently working in the world of gastronomy – for instance, another chef, food writer or food supplier, or an institution.

Last year, chef Leonor Espinosa took home the prize for her Funleo project, a foundation that promotes “Gastronomy for development”.

Picture: Jacqui Way

This year, Scottish chef Zonfrillo has been chosen as finalist due to his work setting up the Orana Foundation, practicing the philosophy of “giving back more than you receive”.

His objectives range from supporting indigenous communities in the production and fair marketing of their products to the documentation of more than 10,000 native ingredients and the investigation of new uses.

The chef has dedicated the last 17 years to discovering and defending the ancient culture, which is largely excluded from the national culinary identity.

During this time, he has visited hundreds of remote communities and captured the gastronomic riches that their inhabitants have shared with him. He has included these riches on the menu of his prestigious Orana restaurant and presented them on his television programmes.

Born in Glasgow, Jock, 41, grew up in Ayr and landed his first job in the kitchens at Turnberry before working with top chefs in London to earn his spurs.

Aged 18, he took a trip to Australia to work for a year before falling in love with the country, later returning to become one of the country’s most celebrated chefs.

He has dedicated the last 17 years to discovering and defending this ancient culture, which is largely excluded from the national culinary identity. During this time, he has visited hundreds of remote communities and captured the gastronomic riches that their inhabitants have shared with him.

The final winner of the award, who will be chosen by an international jury comprised of the world’s most acclaimed chefs and experts in different aspects of food culture, will be announced on July 24th during the eighth annual meeting of the Basque Culinary Center International Council in Modena, Italy.

Joxe Mari Aizega, head of the Basque Culinary Centre, said: “We are delighted about the diversity of the profiles in areas such as innovation, education, environment,
social and economic development and health.

“They all reflect – in their own way and context – the chefs’ commitment to society and give gastronomy an interdisciplinary dimension. They are inspirational stories for the industry and we are extremely excited to share them.”

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things whisky-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over six years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink.

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