Malaysian-born Siew-Chinn Chin is among 10 finalists vying for the €100,000 (RM471,600) Basque Culinary World Prize 2019, which celebrates trailblazing chefs whose work have had an impact beyond the kitchen.
A total of 230 nominations from 42 countries were submitted over three months earlier this year by gastronomic professionals and institutions, naming chefs who use gastronomy as a transformational force in areas such as technology, education, environment, health, food production or for social or economic development.
Chin, whose father taught her how to farm, harvest, and sell produce at markets in Kuala Lumpur, is recognised for educating the next generation about the importance of healthy eating through cooking. She believes children should be taught how to source organic, nutritious food at a young age.
The other finalists are Selassie Atadika (Ghana), Mario Castrellón (Panama), Giovanni Cuocci (Italy), Xanty Elías (Spain), Virgilio Martínez (Peru), Cristina Martínez (New Mexico), Douglas McMaster (the UK), Anthony Myint (the US) and Lars Williams (the US-Denmark).
The culinary prize, in its fourth edition this year, is organised and promoted by the Basque government under the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy and the Basque Culinary Centre (BCC), a leading gastronomic research and teaching institution. The winner will be chosen by majority vote at a meeting of the BCC’s international council in July and the award ceremony will be held in Basque Country in autumn.
Chin is advocating organic and healthy eating habits in the US through initiatives such as The Charlie Cart Project, which integrates an educational programme that connects food and cooking with lessons in Maths, English Language, Arts, Science and Social Studies. She has trained more than 500 educators from 10 US states, using a fully equipped mobile kitchen and dozens of recipes to illustrate the link between cooking, health and the environment.
“Today, youths grow up surrounded by processed food sold by large, for-profit corporations without any awareness about our health or our future. I hope we can influence the eating habits of young people, as small as that influence may be, and transform the future generation. It’s like a race between the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise can win if it is persistent,” Chin says.