Basque Culinary World Prize 2022: Fatmata Binta wins to spread nomadic culinary Fulani culture

Basque Culinary World Prize 2022: The winner is Fatmata Binta

The award, conceived by one of the most important and influential gastronomic training centers in the world, reaches its seventh edition, Basque Culinary Center of San Sebastian, which – together with the Basque government – rewards with 100,000 euros the people who through food create positive change in society. In different ways and areas: culinary innovation, health, nutrition, education, environment, food industry, social or economic development. Whether it is the fight against waste or social regeneration, economic growth or food education, the fight against poverty or obesity among children: Every year, the award continues its tireless search for individuals who can embody the capacity of gastronomy to transform society. “Now, more than ever, we need inspiring stories and examples of how social influence can begin in the kitchen; These” explains Joxe Mari Aizega, Director-General of the Basque Culinary Center “I am three chefs with stimulating stories and experiences that create social impact from the kitchen, chefs who have utilized their entrepreneurial mission, their knowledge and their creativity to influence sustainability, gastronomic education and social integration through various projects and initiatives.

Food and cooking can therefore really create a change in people’s lives, not only in the industrialized West, but around the world, as demonstrated by BCWP 2022, awarded to an African chef: Fatmata Binta. “Award of the year“Comments Joan Roca, chairman of the jury “Focuses on Africa and on the possibility of growing through cooking, circular economy, culinary knowledge and the preservation of traditions in a society where traditions are fundamental. By doing this, Binta sends the message to the world that sustainability, based on shared knowledge, must be the norm and not the exception, strengthening women’s liberation and the matriarchal basis for these communities ”.

Fatmata Binta, Dine on a Mat and Fulani Kitchen Foundation

Originally from Sierra Leone, Fatmata Binta is a reference point for the Fulani communities, one of the largest nomadic tribes in Africa, with over 20 million people in constant motion, preserving a heritage of knowledge and traditions at risk. to be lost. Chef Binta has been able to raise awareness of this gastronomic culture through a pop-up kitchen initiative with the emblematic name Eat on a mat, that is: eat on a rug, a traveling project aimed at spreading nomadic cuisine, a sharing cuisine based on grains and spices, but also on meeting, dialogue, storytelling as well as on sustainable practice, archaic techniques and consumption rituals originals. A culture (not just gastronomic) with deep roots, which is still unknown in the world and which is worth preserving.

Furthermore, Binta finances through Dine on a Mat Fulani Kitchen Foundation which helps women from all Fulani regions with social, educational and societal projects also thanks to a phonio transformation project, an ancient cereal typical of rural Africa which can be a source of nourishment for these communities but also for income and economic and social autonomy. Currently, more than 300 families from 12 communities and 4 regions in Ghana are benefiting from the initiative. Not only that: in the future, the construction of a center is planned to meet the social, educational and societal needs of women, who will also be able to find a safe haven here where they can work and pack different types of products. The fund began working on four hectares of agricultural land with the aim of expanding to 500 in the near future: to be able to export at least 200 tonnes of fonio to various African countries and abroad.


“Kokken Binta” commented Narda Lepes, among the new members of the jury Proposes a self-sufficient approach whose profits are reinvested in society and form the seed for a project that can grow on its own. Which does not depend on good will, but on work. Binta is a person born and returned to Africa who left and returned with financially sustainable solutions. She lives there and it changes everything. “

“It’s a true honor” said Binta, thanking for the award “Not only for me, but for all women who will be empowered and inspired to reach their maximum potential. It will help to highlight the challenges that women face and, above all, to find solutions.“. Because her commitment to her Fulani community goes through liberation and the full expression of the female potential, which – she says – we can no longer afford to ignore. In this context, education, training, work and social integration are the cornerstones of a rebirth that starts with women: “The world must make full use of women’s talent and wisdom. Whether it’s food security, economic recovery or peace, women’s participation is now more necessary than ever.”. Especially if within a development project based on native resources, such as phonio, at the bottom of a “Social and economic management with a strong identity bond” points out Pia León, another new member of the jury: “its mission is to create a resource-based enterprise like fonio that women can produce locally to enhance what is original while strengthening their economy. His kitchen creates virtual bridges for diners to appreciate and connect with the earth and people. “

The special mention of the Basque Culinary World Prize 2022

The BCWP jury also awarded two special mentions to two personalities from the world of gastronomy.

douglas McMster

Douglas McMaster (UK)

Sustainability and zero waste: work with Douglas McMaster focuses on the obligation to reduce waste. Starting with his Silo restaurant in Brighton, which opened in 2014 and now moved to Hackney, London, the UK’s first zero-waste restaurant – a country where 6.7 million tonnes of food is wasted annually with a loss of around £ 10.2 billion – and the leader of a common commitment that has the strength of a movement. At the bottom of everything is the idea of ​​using ingredients that are usually discarded and turning them into gourmet dishes: not as a reserve, but as products “luxurious, delicious, elegant and beautiful”. Be it whey, a by-product of the cheese-making process, or weeds. The unused food waste is then placed in a composting machine, which converts 60 kg of organic waste into compost every 24 hours. But this approach is not just about food – empty wine bottles are painted and turned into plates. In Silo, therefore, there are no waste bins. To raise awareness and motivate a new generation of chefs, McMaster founded Zero Waste Cooking School online platform where he publishes weekly videos to teach cooking in a more sustainable way.

Edson Leite

Edson Leite (Brazil)

Raised in Jardim São Luiz, a suburb of São Paulo, a place of strong social pressure, Edson Leite he worked in Portugal and Spain, where he explored Mediterranean cuisine before returning to Brazil with the intention of changing the lives of the favelas, where poverty, crime and marginalization stifle talent and hope. Also by those who want to look for a way out and improve their lives. Leite, together with psychologist Adélia Rodríguez, created a social training center for that purpose “to transform life through food and defend social inclusion as a universal right“. A traveling cooking school, Peripheral gastronomy, which offers courses, psychological support and support in job placement that provide the opportunity to get out of violent contexts and go new ways. The training courses are held in different peripheral areas: after identifying a kitchen where they can work collectively, Leite and his team examine the context and characteristics of the territory in order to propose programs that meet the real needs of the people for whom it exists. addressed .. He thus explains that in addition to creating opportunities to improve the economic situation, a closed cycle of marginalization and lack of prospects is undermined. More than 2000 people have benefited from its free courses; 440 people graduated in 2021, and 118 students secured a job thanks to his school.

the jury for the Basque Culinary World Prize

The jury for the Basque Culinary World Prize

The award, supported by academics and international experts, strengthens the work of some chefs and more generally the role gastronomy can play in society, which he reiterated. Bittor Oroz, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy of the Basque Government “One must understand that gastronomy is an extra link in the food chain and a engine of change that can provide a different view of conventional schemes and that can help in the search for solutions to social problems that affect us all.That is why – he explains – the Basque Country continues to want to be the international reference point for gastronomy. Also through initiatives such as the BCWP, “Thank you for contributing to the definition of a new social model, more equitable and sustainable, for the benefit of the people”

This year, there were more than 1,000 nominations and 700 candidates for what is now universally recognized as the Nobel Prize in Gastronomy. These names, presented by professionals and institutions in the industry and food sector, are verified and analyzed by a group of people coordinated by the Basque Culinary Center before being examined by the jury, which includes some of the most important names in the world. catering, led from Joan Roca (El Cellar de Can Roca), a compound of names such as Gastón Acurio (Acurio Restaurants), Manu Buffara (Manu), Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn), Enrique Olvera (Pujol), Trine Hahnemann (Hahnemann’s Kitchen) Michel Bras, Mauro Colagreco (Mirazur), Pia Leon (Dress), Josh Niland (Saint Peter), Elena Reygadas (Rosetta), Narda Lepes (Narda Comedor).


The Basque Culinary World Award over the years

BCWP this year talks about protecting food culture and development through food, after awarding, last year, Xanty Elías for his efforts against childhood obesity, was the year before recognized for the work which José Andrés to address the food emergency due to the pandemic with its World Central Kitchen project. Before him, Anthony Myint for its fight against climate change and the Scots Jock Zonfrillo (awarded in Modena during the eighth meeting of the Board of the Basque Culinary Center) for his commitment to preserving the food memory of indigenous Australians, Leonor Espinosa won the award in 2017 for regaining the knowledge of the ancestors of the Colombian people through its organization Funleo. In its opening year (2016), the Venezuelan chef was awarded Maria Fernanda of Jacob for its initiative, which revolves around cocoa as a source of identity, culture and economic wealth in Venezuela.

curated by Antonella De Santis

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