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Ebru Baybara Demir Receives the Basque Culinary World Prize 2023

16 November 2023

On November 16 (6:30 p.m.), the Prisma de Tabakalera in Donostia-San Sebastián will host the ceremony awarding the Basque Culinary World Prize 2023 to Turkish chef Ebru Baybara Demir. For over two decades, she has played a pivotal role in various initiatives, addressing pressing issues such as the migratory crisis in the area, the regeneration of local crops in response to climate change, cultural integration in Mardin, near the Syrian border, and her leadership in humanitarian efforts following devastating events like the February 2023 earthquake in Turkey.


The Basque Culinary World Prize is a unique global prize awarded by the Basque Government, as part of the framework of the comprehensive Euskadi-Basque Country strategy and the Basque Culinary Center, a leading academic institution in gastronomy. The award recognizes the work of chefs leading transformative initiatives in areas of innovation, technology, education, environment, health, food industry, and social and economic development, among others.


In the presence of officials and prominent personalities from the Basque food sector, the Minister of Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment of the Basque Government Arantxa Tapia will present the award to Ebru Baybara valued at 100,000 euros. In the run-up to the award ceremony, Joan Roca, as president of the Basque Culinary World Prize Jury, will also speak, in addition to Vicente Atxa, President of the Basque Culinary Center Board of Trustees.


Empowering Communities through Food


Chef Baybara Demir has joined initiatives promoting and consolidating spaces for multicultural integration and job placements, especially for refugees and displaced people, assuming a transversal commitment to nurturing understanding and coexistence in a troubled region.


The tragic earthquake that shook Syria and Turkey in early February caught the world's attention: nine months later, help of all kinds is still urgent. For Ebru Baybara Demir, getting involved in humanitarian aid by providing hot meals to thousands affected by the disaster, in the form of an initiative called “Gönül Mutfağı”, has been a continuation of her ongoing work. For over twenty years, the chef has been diverse in her methods of generating impact around her, working with international organisations, local governments, public-private entities and local cooperatives. In the city of Mardin, a tourist hotspot with few restaurants, she began to link cooking with tourism and development, encouraging local women to open their own kitchens in historic houses to feed foreigners, thus generating employment opportunities and enhancing the tourist experience.


She later played a major role in culinary training programs promoted by organizations such as UNHCR and FAO, which focused on opening up job opportunities to refugees. She currently supports the agricultural development cooperative From Soil to Plate, where volunteers in the Mardin region work to improve the production and consumption of local and ancestral grains, such as sorgül. In addition to eating, these grains are used to make soaps, jams and crafts and marketed online. She also contributes to the management of biodegradable waste for the Diyarbakır farmers markets, which aims to use discarded fruits and vegetables to produce agricultural fertilizers.


The financial award of 100 thousand euros from the Basque Culinary World Prize will serve to support the chef's initiatives that benefit people, the environment and society. In the words of the winner, Ebru Baybara Demir:

“Winning the 2023 Basque Culinary World Prize, the Nobel Prize of gastronomy, is an indescribable honor. Being recognized as a “culinary force of nature” by leading experts in gastronomy is incredibly meaningful. It signifies over two decades of heartfelt dedication to a profession I deeply cherish. Receiving this award, not only as a chef but also as a Turkish woman  following the path paved by Ataturk, on the 100th anniversary of our Republic, holds deep significance for me and my country.  Kitchen surpasses physical walls and the importance of acknowledging everyone involved in the journey of food from soil to plate. I clarified this approach when I encountered the Basque Culinary World Prize in 2017. I dedicate this award; to the women who changed their own lives by accompanying me in this journey, to the gastronomes of the future in Turkey to inspire them that the geography is the most beautiful destiny, to my family and to all my companions who share the same philosophy".


Ebru Baybara Demir has been chosen as the winner by a jury made up of some of the world’s most influential chefs, and representatives of the International Committee of the Basque Culinary Center. Chaired by chef Joan Roca (Spain -El Celler de Can Roca), it has also included other renowned chefs such as Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), Michel Bras (France), Gastón Acurio (Peru), Manu Buffara (Brazil), Dominique Crenn (USA), Trine Hahnemann (Denmark), Elena Reygadas (Mexico), Pia León (Peru), Josh Niland (Australia), Narda Lepes (Argentina) and ThiTid Tassanakajohn (Ton) (Thailand).


A transformative initiative


The Basque Culinary World Prize was launched in 2016 to highlight and celebrate the ways in which gastronomy can become a transformative force, highlighting the work of entrepreneurial individuals striving for excellence, of innovative and creative people who are tenacious and above all, committed to their society.


More than 1,200 nominations and almost 800 nominees from 42 countries have formed the criteria for the award nicknamed by the press the “Nobel of Gastronomy”, which is supported by academics and experts of international prestige, including some of the best chefs of our time.


For more than a month, industry professionals and institutions nominated chefs from all over the globe who demonstrate that gastronomy can be used as an engine of change in areas such as social integration, sustainability and education. others. For its part, the Basque Culinary Center formed a team that carried out an exhaustive process of searching and verifying these profiles.


On June 7, the Basque Culinary World Prize announced Ebru Baybara Demir as the winner of the Basque Culinary World Prize 2023, and also made two special mentions, reaffirming its interest in increasing the visibility of current challenges and identifying entrepreneurial chefs who demonstrate excellence, innovation, creativity and tenacity, who are committed to their community and set an example of action as inspiring as it is contagious that is gastronomy.


For this reason, in addition to Ebru Baybara Demir, the jury has recognized the work of two other chefs, awarding special mentions to Nicole Pisani (United Kingdom), for revolutionising the way children are fed in schools, where she is reforming the catering service in primary schools to feed the body and mind of children, and to Heidi Bjerkan (Norway), for implementing multiple restaurant models based on the circular economy and a gastronomy committed to social reality that integrates small producers, social entrepreneurs and educators.


In each edition, the Basque Culinary World Prize, through its winner and the special mentions, takes the opportunity to send a message and to highlight for the international community the different means through which a chef can add value to society. In this year’s edition, it has done so by drawing attention to the theme of food education, in addition to themes of social integration linked to immigration and the diversification of talent.

Desarrollado por:: GureMedia