The 2021 Basque Culinary World Prize (BCWP) has gone to Spanish chef Xanty Elías. The winner is chosen by a panel of the world’s most important and influential chefs, including big fish like Joan Roca, Elena Arzak, Massimo Bottura, Dan Barber, Yoshihiro Narisawa, Dominique Crenn, and Enrique Olvera. The BCWP aims to recognize “the transformative power of gastronomy by sharing inspiring stories of chefs who are spearheading social change beyond the kitchen.”
Elías was recognized for his commitment to childhood nutrition and his initiative “Los Niños Se Comen El Futuro.” Through the latter, he works with institutions and companies in Andalusia to offer cultural education, which convers topics like Andalusian recipes, healthy and sustainable eating, and how math and chemistry apply to cooking. Chefs also visit schools and offer masterclasses.
Elías told Food and Wines from Spain, “We’re thrilled and honored to have won this award. I believe it’s extremely important that these awards allow us to shine a light on food-related problems. We talk about the positive aspects of gastronomy but it’s also important to remember that there are also problems that need to be resolved. [Our initiative] is focused on a problem that will have to deal with in the future and we need to teach our children today.” At the moment this initiative is based in southern Spain but Elías hopes for it to extend throughout the rest of the country in the future. During the 2019/20 academic year alone, his program reached more than 15,000 students in over 100 schools. In addition to this initiative, the chef’s former restaurant, Acánthum, in Huelva, was the first in the province to receive a Michelin star. He has a current restaurant in the works called Finca Alfoliz, which will focus on sustainability.