50 Best unveils three winners of a brand-new initiative, Champions of Change, presented in partnership with S.Pellegrino, recognising and celebrating unsung heroes of the hospitality sector, who have used the pandemic as a springboard to drive meaningful action. They are:
– Kurt Evans – US chef-activist rallying the community to end mass incarceration
– Viviana Varese – Italian chef breaking down barriers around LGBTQ+ and inclusivity
– Deepanker Khosla – Indian chef-restaurateur supporting migrants in Thailand
Champions of Change forms a key pillar in the organisation’s evolving ’50 Best for Recovery’ initiative. A substantial donation will be made to each of the winners’ causes from the 50 Best for Recovery Fund, allowing the recipients to continue building their projects.
The first of this year’s winners is Kurt Evans, co-founder of Down North Pizza in Philadelphia, US, which exclusively employs formerly incarcerated individuals while providing culinary career opportunities with a fair wage. Evans is the activist behind the successful ‘End Mass Incarceration’ dinner series and is also the co-founder of Everybody Eats Philly, a team of Black chefs leading the fight against food insecurity.
Viviana Varese, an LGBTQ+ and diversity campaigner, recently reopened Michelin-starred Viva in Milan and new restaurant W Villadorata in Sicily with a strong focus on inclusivity for staff and suppliers alike. In autumn 2021, Varese intends to open a gelateria in Milan and is specifically recruiting and training domestic abuse survivors to run the operation.
When the pandemic hit Thailand, Indian chef Deepanker Khosla turned his Bangkok restaurant, Haoma – which is staffed largely by migrants from Myanmar and Nepal – into a soup kitchen for out-of-work Bangkok residents. He raised funds for his campaign, No One Hungry, where staff prep free meals for the homeless, and are also able to receive food for themselves and their families.
William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, says: “We are thrilled to recognise Kurt, Viviana and Deepanker with the first Champions of Change awards and we can’t wait to see how they will use these donations to further their outstanding projects.”
Champions of Change is one of several special awards to be announced in the lead up to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 awards ceremony, which will be hosted in Antwerp, Flanders on Tuesday, 5th October.