Chef Anthony Myint originally gained notoriety for his role as a co-founder of Mission Street Food with wife and partner Karen Leibowitz, eventually opening Mission Chinese Food and the Perennial. He has also been hard at work on something that’s become increasingly urgent: combatting climate change, and the role of restaurants in that fight. Now he’s won the Basque Culinary World Prize, a prestigious award with a 100,000 Euro purse (about $112,000 USD).
Myint started ZeroFoodPrint with Peter Freed (a renewable energy manager at Facebook) and Chris Ying (former editor-in-chief of Lucky Peach) after a study published in Lucky Peach in 2013 revealed that the carbon emissions from dining out were shockingly similar to that of cooking at home. ZeroFoodPrint was founded to help chefs and restaurants lower their carbon impact, with an understanding of the challenges the industry faces.
Along with the other project he and Leibowitz launched recently, The Perennial Farming Initiative, Myint advises restaurants on how to reduce their carbon footprint, some with the goal of going carbon neutral. A large group of SF restaurants are already on board, including Benu, Lord Stanley, Cala, and State Bird Provisions, with a growing number of restaurants around the world joining suit.
Healthy soil and farming can help reverse climate change, and at scale, could help to eventually solve global warming, says Myint, who considers it the biggest story in food right now, and the biggest opportunity for chefs to create a cultural shift.
Myint accepted the award in front of a group of well-known chefs and a culinary luminiaries from around the world at a ceremony in San Francisco today. The Basque Culinary Prize is awarded to a chef that “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.”
The winner is chosen by a jury of chefs, academics, and other experts in those fields; this year’s jury included local chefs Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn), Kyle and Katina Connaughton (Single Thread) and culinary gardener Tucker Taylor.
Matthew Kang contributed reporting to this article.