JR, bottom left, at the Basque Culinary World Prize

What was JR doing at these Basque Food Awards?

The artist joined a skinny Italian chef and Phaidon's other world-class talents at the Basque Culinary World Prize

The Basque Culinary World Prize might be named after that distinct cultural region of northern Spain and southern France, but it isn’t limited to that area.

Instead, the prize, which is backed by the Basque Government, celebrates a chef of any nationality, “who demonstrates how gastronomy can have a positive impact in fields such as culinary innovation, health, nutrition, education, the environment, the food industry, social or economic development, among others.”

This year, the prize’s jury, which includes Phaidon chefs Enrique Olvera, Gastón Acurio, Andoni Luis Aduriz, as well as the Danish interior designer Ilse Crawford and the US food writer Ruth Reichl, met in Modena, home town of fellow jury member Massimo Bottura.



Bottura and his wife Lara invited fellow Phaidon author JR  along. The French artist didn’t attend in an official capacity, but he certainly does know a bit about how shared ideas – be they artistic or culinary - can change the world.



Among the contenders for this year’s prize was Virgilio Martinez for his 60-seat restaurant and accompanying food lab, Mil, situated beside the ancient, stepped Inca ruin of Moray, in Peru, seeks to research and revive pre-Colombian culinary techniques.

Unfortunately, Martinez lost out this year to Jock Zonfrillo, a Scottish chef working in Australia, who has spent the last 17 years discovering and defending aboriginal cuisine and culture.

That culinary project is about as far removed from the Basque country as you can get, though it certainly sounds like, thanks to this prize, Jock’s discoveries will travel far.

For more on JR’s outlook art and Philosophy, get JR: Can Art Change the World?; for more on  Virgilio order a copy of Central; and for more on Massimo’s ambitious philanthropic projects (and some very tasty recipes too) get Bread is Gold