Three socially committed chefs, namely Kurt Evans from Philadelphia, Viviana Varese from Milan and Deepanker Khosla from Bangkok are winners of Champions of Change, a brand-new initiative by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
The international award, announced just last week, celebrates unsung individuals — chefs and restaurateurs — of the hospitality sector who have proved over the last 18 months to be a force of positive change in their respective communities.
It’s one of the World 50 Best organisation’s initiatives to help rebuild and remodel the global gastronomic scene yet with a greater focus on inclusivity and long-term sustainability. A donation will be made to each of the winners’ projects, allowing the recipients to continue building their initiatives and supporting long-term progress in the restaurant and food sphere.
Chef Deepanker Khosla of Haoma restaurant in Bangkok is recognised for his public spirit through his restaurant channel.
During the Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand, Khosla, an Indian-born chef turned his cooking atelier, which is staffed largely by migrants, into a soup kitchen for out-of-work Bangkok residents.
He raised funds to make meals with his campaign, No One Hungry, where his staff prepped free meals for the homeless and were able to receive food for themselves and their families as well. Khosla employs people from Myanmar and Nepal who often lack citizenship and was able to retain all of his staff successfully despite the impact of the pandemic.
Haoma also received a three-star certification from the sustainability organisation Food Made Good and is on its way to becoming zero waste by 2022. Khosla will use the Champions of Change donation to create and staff a full-fledged kitchen for the No One Hungry project, providing meals to thousands of people in need.
Just like Khosla, Philadelphia’s chef Kurt Evans offers a powerful lending hand to the community.
Evans has been using food as a medium to mitigate recidivism and fight mass incarceration. He has raised money for bail funds, expungement clinics and charities while fostering conversation around this critical topic. Meanwhile, he helped train formerly incarcerated youth in the culinary arts. During the pandemic, his co-founded mission, Down North Pizza, exclusively employed formerly incarcerated individuals, providing them career opportunities with a fair wage.
Despite being discriminated against in the haute cuisine restaurant sector for being a woman and a lesbian, Italian chef Viviana Varese received her first Michelin star in 2010 for her restaurant Alice in Milan. In 2019, she renamed and refurbished Alice, turning it into Viva. At Viva, an environment where everyone is encouraged to be their unique selves, the staff is respected regardless of gender, race, age or sexuality.
Chef Varese also collaborated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help train and integrate several displaced individuals. She is also seeking to work with suppliers who share the same values. She is to open in autumn this year, a new gelateria in Milan staffed by women who have been victims of domestic violence.
The Champions of Change award is part of the forthcoming The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 programme sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. The ceremony event will be held on Oct 5, in Antwerp, Belgium, with an extensive event programme representing a key milestone in the ongoing revival of the restaurant sector.