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Basque Culinary Center welcomes new International Board members: Pia Leˇn, Narda Lepes, Josh Niland and Elena Reygadas

18 May 2022

Pia León (Peru), Narda Lepes (Argentina), Josh Niland (Australia) and Elena Reygadas (Mexico) – notable members of a new generation of chefs – are joining the Basque Culinary Center International Board. This group already boasts some of the world’s most influential and acclaimed chefs and these new additions will strengthen its holistic view, while also providing fresh perspectives on gastronomy grounded in their experiences and visions.


The gastronomy industry of the future must incorporate talent with new values, priorities, and demands. For this reason, the Board advises Basque Culinary Center and provides it with a strategic vision that is inclusive and attuned to the present context. The council also serves to accelerate gastronomy’s impact on society. Thus, Basque Culinary Center has decided to recognize and include multidisciplinary figures in its think tank: these industry leaders who wield their distinctive visions to continue making connections across realities around the globe.


The members of the Basque Culinary Center International Board bring an international perspective to the table, with their wealth of experience as the cornerstone. Chaired by Joan Roca, the active council members are: Gastón Acurio, Massimo Bottura, Enrique Olvera, Trine Hahnemann, Dominique Crenn and Yoshihiro Narisawa. The Board’s founding members were Ferrán Adrià, Michel Bras, René Redzepi, Heston Blumenthal, Alex Atala, and Dan Barber.


The International Board lays its groundwork at its annual meeting. Held in a different city every year, renowned chefs and experts from a range of disciplines gather to identify challenges, stimulate conversation, and dive deep into the question of how to promote the gastronomy industry from a 360º perspective. The gastronomy summit planned for June 2022 in Girona will be the first event for these four new council members. They will attend the council meeting, form part of the jury tasked with selecting the winner of the Basque Culinary World Prize, and actively engage in the reflection day (June 21st) which is open to the public.


In the face of the announcement of the new members of the International Board, Joxe Mari Aizega, General Director of Basque Culinary Center, has recognized that “composed of a group of renowned and visionary chefs, the International Board has accompanied us since Basque Culinary Center's beginning with reflections, ideas and lines of work that have allowed us to stay in the avantgarde of gastronomy. Our Council is further proof that our institution is an active entity in constant transformation, that listens and adapts to society’s necessities. In this sense, it is essential to continue innovating and adding new voices, such as those we announce today, to help us promote various ways of understanding gastronomy and moving towards a future in which gastronomy strengthens its role as a strategic sector.”


“As President of the Basque Culinary Center’s International Board, it is a great honor and joy to welcome the four new additions,” said Joan Roca, “gastronomy sums, and it is a multidisciplinary humanistic phenomenon that is constantly growing with new visions, voices and reflections. Pia, Josh, Narda and Elena bring a new look that will enhance the enriching vision of the International Board. We await you in Girona to start a shared path that will increase the positive impact of gastronomy as a global phenomenon" he added.

Welcoming Food – Girona 2022


After two years without an in-person council meeting, this world-class summit will address the industry’s challenges and opportunities based on a creative and interdisciplinary approach. And this year the Basque Culinary Center’s International Board will finally gather in person as part of the gastronomy summit “Welcoming Food” in Girona June 19th – 21st.


During this event, the new council members will join forces with other socially engaged chefs, who are committed to improving the industry and society as a whole, to take part in a forum for debating and exchanging knowledge.  


From Peru, Pia León, chef and owner of Kjolle, will demonstrate how to diversify culinary discourse and formats through new team and talent management models. Meanwhile, the multi-talented Argentine Narda Lepes will discuss how "food" has become an undecipherable concept. She will also address how industry players like chefs can use their voices to reach audiences far beyond their restaurants to educate them about what it actually means to put something in their mouths, and how to cook and learn more about the realities behind the dining table. Elena Reygadas will travel from Mexico to Girona to share lessons she has learned while developing her very personal brand, not only within her business, but also in relation to her region. She will answer the question: how can an entrepreneur achieve something truly grand in gastronomy in such a complex environment? And finally, Josh Niland, from Australia, who specializes in marine products and has built an entire language around them, will explain how he understands innovation today and how such a vision connects with the present-day world.


The reflection day, which is open to the public, will explore the opportunities that arise around a dining table and how cooking can serve as a catalyst when new sources of inspirations are necessary, when new languages ​​and formats for integrating the environmental, economic and socio-cultural transformations of our time are taking over our reality. This gathering brings together a range of heavy hitters from the gastronomy ecosystem (chefs, media, and experts) to share their visions and thoughts with the goal of promoting gastronomy as a strategic industry and offering creative perspectives. For more information on the gastronomy summit in Girona and to register for the reflection day visit:





Pia Leon (Kjolle - Peru)


After finishing high school she went on to study at Cordon Bleu in Lima. She spent time working a variety of restaurants to get hands-on training and completed internships at the Ritz Hotel in New York, Gastón Acurio’s Astrid & Gastón, and Astrid Gutsche.


In 2008 she began working at Central, located in the Barranco district of Lima and owned by chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz, who fuses research with indigenous Peruvian ingredients. She was the first woman to join this restaurant’s team. By 2010 she had joined forces with Virgilio as partners and co-owners of the establishment.


In 2018 she opened her own fine-dining restaurant, Kjolle, where she expresses herself through cuisine that is open, creative, free-spirited, Peruvian, fresh and modern all at the same time. That same year she was also named the Best Chef in Latin America by Latin America’s 50 Best of the World's 50 Best Restaurants. In 2021, she was named by the World’s Best Chef by the prestigious World's 50 Best Restaurants, dedicated to identifying the best in global gastronomy.


Narda Lepes (Narda Comedor - Argentina)


Narda is one of the most famous chefs in Argentina; she is communicator, entrepreneur and an influential international figure. Her debut on El Gourmet channel launched a successful television and radio career. She is also the author of several books: Comer y Pasarla Bien (Eat and Have a Good Time), Ñam ñam: Manual para alimentar a un pequeño omnívoro (Yum yum: Manual for feeding a small omnivore), and 201 Tips para no comer como el or** (201 Tips to not eat like sh**). In 2017 she opened her restaurant Narda Comedor, which debuted on Latin America's 50 Best Restaurant list in 2020. She has played a key role in creating associations and projects such as A.C.E.L.G.A., M.I.G.A. and the Masticar Fair. Through all of these initiatives, she promotes moving towards more plant-forward eating habits.  She also works with the Union of Land Workers (la Unión de Trabajadores de la Tierra , UTT) to boost their direct sales capacity.


In November 2020 The World's 50 Best Restaurants awarded her the prestigious title of the Best Female Chef in Latin America.


Josh Niland (Fish Butchery- Australia)


He began crafting his unique cooking philosophy in prestigious restaurants around Sydney at the tender age of 17. Today, he plays the role of prophet for the new radical gospel of marine products.


Owner and chef of the restaurant Saint Peter and Fish Butchery, a retail space that has become Australia's first sustainable fishmonger offering a wide range of unusual marine products, Niland has revolutionized how fish is viewed and used as a product. This Australian chef has managed to reinvent fish and shellfish around the world and transform people belief’s about traditional seafood dishes through his new and innovative preparation and cooking techniques that make the most of every last part of the fish and utilize hi-tech storage methods.


What’s more, in 2019 the chef published his own cookbook “The Whole Fish Cookbook: New Ways to Cook, Eat and Think”, a unique collection exhibiting his ground-breaking techniques and expertise through innovative recipes and dishes, along with fresh insights and flavors.



Elena Reygadas (Rosetta - Mexico)


Extremely talented and creative, Elena Reygadas is a key player on the Mexican gastronomy scene and a true icon in Latin America. She is the chef and owner of a group of popular restaurants and bakeries: Rosetta, la Panadería de Rosetta (Rosetta’s Bakery), Lardo and Café Nin. 


In addition, as a chef Elena is deeply committed to advocating for local Mexican ingredients and social causes related to healthy and sustainable eating.  Her first book, Rosetta, was published by Sexto Piso in 2019. She has received numerous awards and honors, including the Veuve Clicquot Award for best female chef in Latin America (2014), which recognizes her outstanding work, as well as the innovation and creativity she places at the service of diners in her restaurants.

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