The Venezuelan chef, Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe, has been chosen as the winner of the first edition of the Basque Culinary World Prize, a major international award promoted by the Basque Culinary Center and the Basque Government to distinguish chefs with transformative initiatives.
After selecting 20 finalists, a panel of judges chaired by Joan Roca and composed of Ferran Adrià, Dominique Crenn, Heston Blumenthal, Massimo Bottura, Yoshihiro Narisawa, Enrique Olvera, Harold McGee, Massimo Montanari, Cristina Franchini, and Laura Esquivel, decided to reward Di Giacobbe, promoter of Venezuelan chocolate and alma mater of projects like Kakao and certified cocoa. Thanks to both initiatives, the chef has managed to assemble a network of education, training, entrepreneurship, and research and development around criollo cocoa as a source of identity, culture, and economic wealth. In particular, it is worth applauding the opportunities she is providing women in precarious situations, who she trains and they go on to become chocolate microentrepreneurs. All in the midst of the complex political situation in Venezuela.
Thanks to this recognition, Di Giacobbe will receive 100,000 euros which have to be donated to a project of her choosing that expresses the transforming power of cuisine.