Suggestions for the Future Beginning with BCWP.
Expectations for Japan and Global Co-creation Through Food.

Transforming the World Through Food. Basque Culinary World Prize (BCWP) Report.

The BCWP was established in 2016 by the Basque government in Spain and the Basque Culinary Center (BCC), and is known as the Nobel prize of the gastronomy world. The prize is awarded to individuals whose work in gastronomy has been proven to benefit society. The award is open to chefs across the world whose work has had a positive impact on a wide range of fields, be it education, health, research, sustainability, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, or the protection of regional cultures, for example. In FY2023, the 13th BCWP and International Council of the Basque Culinary Center was held in Japan. In this session we examine the worldviews and objectives of chefs active across the world, their expectations for Japan’s traditions, expertise, and culinary vision, and the course of action for global co-creation through food cultures.

Japan Has Had a Major Impact on Modern Gastronomy
—Together We Can Find Inspiration Through Discussions on Challenges and Opportunities

 In early summer 2023, the International Council of the Basque Culinary Center and the BCWP was held for the first time in Asia in Tokyo. Here we delve into the significance of the event being hosted in Japan. Prior to the event, Yoshiki Tsuji, co-chairperson of the Cool Japan Public-Private Partnership Platform (CJPF), had a conversation with Joxe Mari Aizega, director of the BCC. Aizega said the following: “Japan has had a major impact on modern gastronomy. Bringing together experts from various fields and different communities and talking together about challenges and opportunities can be a huge source of inspiration for all involved. Doing so in Japan would be incredibly significant.” What is happening in the world of gastronomy in Japan? How have and how will traditions evolve? How can the new generation pave the way forward? Tsuji had high hopes that participating in this event with others would inspire new ideas about the future of Japanese food culture.
 All that was left was to host the event, which began with a message from Yoshihiro Narisawa, an individual closely connected to the BCC since its establishment and chef-owner of a two-Michelin star restaurant in Minami- Aoyama, Tokyo. Narisawa said, “My hope is that we can communicate some ideas on how people in the food industry can help to tackle social challenges in their respective regions. These ideas must be communicated throughout Japan, Asia, and the rest of the world.” Next to speak was Aizega: “The BCC was set up as a single ecosystem to promote research, education, innovation, entrepreneurial support, event organization, and gastronomy.” Bittor Oroz, vice-minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food Policy at the Basque government, as well as one of the founding members of the BCC, went on to say, “Japan has thousands of years of history, and is an example for us all in how it values in cultures and traditions.” Oroz continued, “Gastronomy is a common element that links various cultures. Our aim is to generate reform in society through gastronomy.”
 Following these messages, it was time to announce the 2023 BCWP winner. This year was the first time that the judging committee had made a unanimous decision, awarding the prize to chef Ebru Baybara Demir of Turkey. Baybara Demir received wide acclaim for her efforts to cater to refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war, as well as her launch of a program which saw local women open up their homes to provide local cuisine to visiting tourists.

The Environment, Conflict, Poverty, Disparity, DX.
How Can Food Cultures and Chefs Respond to Challenges and Changes in the Global Environment?

 The next part of the program featured a discussion among some of the world’s leading chefs.

■Session Theme 1: The Times They Are A-Changin’
 Globally influential chef Joan Roca began by saying, “In an era of rapid change, it is important to take a step back and think. Local roots, cultures, and other elements of diversity are paramount.” Meanwhile, Peruvian chef and ambassador of Peruvian cuisine Gaston Acurio said “A new era has begun. In Peru, gastronomy is based on sharing and solidarity.” Finally, former head of Dom Perignon Richard Geoffroy, an individual who became fascinated with the world of sake and developed a new sake of his own, spoke about his own vision for the future: “Sake has more cultural significance than any other alcohol in the world. I hope to contribute to the world of sake with love, respect, and friendliness.”

■Session Theme 2: Prints of a New Generation
 On his first visit to Japan, Australian chef Josh Niland said, “It’s important that we share a range of information on the food industry to the youth who will take over from us in the next generation.” Manoella Buffara, who was voted Best Female Chef in Latin America 2022, was also on her first visit to Japan. She said, “I would like the new generation to experience new technologies. This will no doubt help them moving forward.” Elsewhere, Elena Reygadas, a key player in Mexico’s gastronomy scene, expressed her hopes for the future: “Rather than what they want to have, I would like the youth to think about what they would like to become. It would be great if I could help the youth change.”

■Session Theme 3: Living Ecosystems
 “The most important thing is to go out into the field, visit markets, meet small-scale producers, and speak to as many people as possible,” said famous chef and TV presenter Narda Lepes. Pia Leon, whose restaurant has been voted among the top 10 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for five consecutive years, emphasized the following: “Each individual must communicate a message. Ultimately, small individual action can inspire major reform.”

■Session Theme 4: Countdown to the Future
 Trine Hahnemann is a Danish chef and food writer who has published numerous books. She said, “The world of gastronomy needs young talent. It’s of course important that women also take part in the gastronomy journey. We all have a special talent.” Meanwhile, Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn, a young, up-and-coming chef who has developed Thai cuisine to be among the world’s best, commented, “Thai gastronomy is undergoing great change. It is now becoming one of the world’s fusion cuisines.” Dominique Crenn is owner of Atelier Crenn, the first restaurant in the US with a female head chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. She said, “Life is about change. Life is a journey. There is no need to copy what others are doing. Each person must strive to communicate their own story.”

An Era with Increasing Possibilities for Gastronomy.
Co-creating the Future with Food.

■Session Summary: The Future Role of Chefs
 The 13th BCWP and International Council of the Basque Culinary Center brought together numerous famous and influential chefs from across the world. During the event, the chefs were asked what must evolve and what must not be compromised when thinking about the future of gastronomy. Acurio said, “Familiar cuisine and cuisine that has been shared among families will be essential.” Lepes thinks that “food to serve people will become important,” while Geoffroy said, “People’s mindsets will shift from a power game to harmony and connection.”
 The session was wrapped up with a message from Narisawa, a chef who was received wide acclaim and numerous awards for the value he places on organic ingredients, as well as his initiatives to promote sustainability and nature protection. “To eat means to connect life. Cultures cannot be created without humanity. As food professionals, chefs must work to go beyond simple ‘gastronomy’ and strike the perfect balance between gastronomy and culture. More delicious. More beautiful. More enjoyable. This is the future vision for gastronomy.”
 CJPF Co-Chairman Yoshiki Tsuji gained a lot of inspiration from the whole of the BCWP event. The concept for CJPF is “Future Food Design of Japan.” This makes it even more significant that Japan is having a major impact on global gastronomy. Moving forward, CJPF initiatives and communications can facilitate global co-creation and play a key role in reforming society. Together we are slowly progressing toward this future.
Text: Takahiro Miura
BCWP website:

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