Five young Spaniards in top 50 of new culinary generation

by Lorraine Williamson
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MADRID – The 50 Best organisation pays annual tribute to the world’s best bars and restaurants. But now, for the first time, it has announced the 50 Next list. This includes 50 young people who will shape the future of world gastronomy. Among the list is five young Spaniards.

Five young Spaniards, scientists Maitane Alonso and Marc Coloma and producers Clara Díez, Ion and Mikel Zapiain are on the 50 Next list as leaders of the next culinary generation. Their names may not ring a bell, but they are creating a furore in culinary circles and will become leaders.

Worldwide

This first edition featured 24 women, 19 men and 7 groups from 34 countries across the five continents. Unlike the other lists published by the organisation, this 50 Next list is not a ranking. It looks at seven categories related to gastronomy, such as production, technology, education, creative industries, science, hospitality and activism.

Diversity

The finalists were selected from around 700 candidates with the help of the Basque Culinary Centre. Selection was based on ‘their overall contribution to gastronomy and their potential to bring about positive changes in the sector’. In addition to the Spaniards, finalists include Australian chef Josh Niland, an expert in fish maturing who won at the last Madrid Fusion. Also, Philippine Cherrie Atilano, champion of progressive agriculture led by women. Additionally, Ghanaian technological innovator Isaac Sesi and Mexican Claudia Albertina Ruiz, a pioneer in preserving the culinary traditions of Chiapas.

Interest from NASA

The youngest on the list is Basque medical student Maitane Alonso Monasterio. Futhermore, at the age of 20 has even attracted the attention of NASA with her revolutionary system for preserving food. She has been placed in the ‘innovative scientists’ category. As has the Catalan Marc Coloma, founder of the start-up Heura, which develops meat on a vegetable basis.

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Three Spanish names appear in the category of ‘producers who are changing the scenery’. Clara Díez from Madrid, whose Formaje cheese factory aims to restore the honour of the craftsmanship of small producers and cattle breeders. And Ion and Mikel Zapiain from Guipuzcoa, the youngest generation of a ‘cider fairy tale’ going back to the 16th century. Because of their accumulated knowledge and experience, could be among the most innovative promises in the sector.

Consequences of the pandemic

Because of the pandemic, the organisation decided to publish only this new list of young talents this year. As the international jury cannot travel and many haute cuisinense restaurants are closed, the list of 50 best restaurants for 2020, and probably also for 2021, will be dropped. Since French restaurant Mirazur was crowned the world’s No. 1 in 2019, the industry has gone through a tumultuous time. Many establishments have been forced to close or switch to more informal formats. This means that quite a few changes in the rankings are to be expected.

Gala includes  five young Spaniards

‘As the culinary world struggles to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, it is more important than ever that we support and recognise those who are fighting for a better future for gastronomy,’ said director of 50 Best William Drew. Although the 50 Next list was presented online, it is planned that the winners will meet in early 2022 in Bizkaia at a live ceremony, which will be the successor to the 50 Best gala held in Bilbao in 2018.

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