• Spain's news in English
Chocolate activist wins first 'Nobel Prize for chefs'
Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe. Photo: Basque Culinary World Prize.

Chocolate activist wins first 'Nobel Prize for chefs'

Emma Anderson · 12 Jul 2016, 06:59

Published: 12 Jul 2016 06:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Jul 2016 06:59 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Venezuelan chef Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe became the first winner of the new Basque Culinary World Prize on Monday for her work helping poor women... through chocolate.

Di Giacobbe, founder of the La Paninoteka restaurant in Caracas, has organized such projects as a ‘bean to bar’ movement, which works with local producers in improving their crops and exporting to international chocolatiers.

She has especially focused on how to get women more involved in the trade through educational programmes and has been able to train 8,500 people.

And under the creation of a programme for cacao industry management at the Simón Bolivar University, some 1,500 people have graduated, 94 percent of whom were women.

"In the midst of the complicated political situation in Venezuela, she insists above all on providing opportunities to economically vulnerable women, who are trained and become micro-entrepreneurs of chocolate," the announcement of the prize states.

The award and €100,000 prize money was created by the Basque government and Basque Culinary Center to honour chefs from around the world who make good food, as well as good impacts on the world.

The award is aimed as celebrating a chef who "demonstrates how gastronomy can be a powerful force for change: those men or women whose impact can be felt ‘beyond the kitchen'."

The BBC likened the award to the "Nobel prize for chefs".

"Now our work will take on a new dimension. We will bring the transforming power of our trade to more female chocolate entrepreneurs," Di Giacobbe said in a statement.

"This will bring us closer to our goals and will open up new horizons to connect us with the world.  For this, and for the confidence that the Basque World Prize gives us, we are tremendously grateful in Venezuela."

The final award decision was made by a jury made up of some of the “most important chefs in the world”, according to the prize announcement, as well as specialists in nutrition.

Among the chefs on the jury were Joan Roca from the Girona restaurant Celler de Can Roca, which was crowned the world’s best restaurant in 2015, as well as Spanish celebrity chef Ferran Adrià.

Story continues below…

San Francisco-based Dominique Crenn, British chef Heston Blumenthal and Mexican author of the novel Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel, were also on the jury.

Di Giacobbe beat out some 110 candidates from 30 different countries.

"This is an inspiring example that reflects how powerful gastronomy can be, regardless of how complicated the context," said selection jury leader Joan Roca.

"Chefs can indeed make a difference."

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Emma Anderson (emma.anderson@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Man attacked by racist thug in UK street for talking Spanish

Tomas Gil, 27, from Valencia in eastern Spain was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

Malaga: Police probe bizarre 'sex death' of homeless Brit
The man was found near Malaga airport. Photo: Dennis Howlett / Flickr

A British homeless man was found dead tied to a bench near Malaga airport with his trousers down and his genitals in a can of tuna.

Clock ticking as Spain races to avoid third elections
Third elections could now be avoided. Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists voted on Sunday to allow the conservatives to take power, likely averting a third election for Spaniards tired of going to the polls.

Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain's Socialists lift veto on Rajoy to break deadlock
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available