Three Basque rising stars, among the top names in global gastronomy
What do a cellar making Basque cider and a project for food preservation have in common? In both cases, they are led by young Basque entrepreneurs under the age of 35 who have been included among the 50 top names in global gastronomy. In both projects, research and innovation feature heavily. For the first time in 2021, the acclaimed list of The World's 50 Best Restaurants has named 50 young people who are destined to change the rules of the game and revolutionise global gastronomy. Among the 50 Next, which is the name of the initiative, there are three young Basque people: Maitane Alonso and siblings Ion and Mikel Zapiain. The prestigious The World's Best 50 Restaurants, famous for publishing the list of the world's best restaurants, has named the 50 young people under 35 destined to revolutionise the future of gastronomy. This year the list is published under the title 50 Next, presenting the top 50 names that are changing the world of gastronomy in unique and interesting ways. This award, which grants equal recognition to all those chosen, is divided into seven categories. Maitane Alonso has been nominated in the category of Scientific Innovators, which includes biologists, engineers and inventors who develop unique solutions for the world of cuisine. On the other hand, the Zapiain brothers, from the cider house bearing their name, have been acknowledged among the producers who are changing the rules of the game. PRESERVATION OF FOOD Alonso is a young researcher and medical student who has developed a revolutionary machine to preserve and extend the shelf life of food. It is estimated that a third of all food produced worldwide goes to waste ‒ approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year. Faced with this problem, Maitane Alonso founded her own company, Innovating Alimentary Machines, aged just 18. It develops domestic and industrial prototypes of her invention, which extends the shelf life of food. Maitane built the first prototype of her revolutionary food preserving machine using items including part of a broken window shutter, a computer fan and two plastic containers, and started running tests. She soon found that her method, called “packaging with treated air”, greatly reduced odour-producing microorganisms present inside. The benefits of her invention are threefold, as the machine reduces food waste, is fully sustainable and helps families to save money. The project has already won several international awards. INNOVATIVE CIDER Cider is experiencing a real revolution around the world. It is one of the alcoholic beverages seeing the fastest growth, and is trending in the coolest establishments in the US. Cider is experiencing an international boom. The Zapiain family has been linked to cider-making since at least the 16th century. But innovation and research are in the DNA of this Basque cider house. Since the 1960s, this cider house located in Astigarraga has strived to achieve excellence in the products it makes, and that effort has been rewarded again by the 50 Next list. This list highlights the work carried out by these young brothers within the Basque cider industry, diversifying a product with deeps roots and a long tradition. According to Ion Zapiain, “in our cider house we try to promote innovation without renouncing tradition. That's why in recent years we’ve put a lot of effort into the improvement and diversification of the product”. Specifically, the 50 Next list refers to one of Zapiain's newest products, its “Bizi-Goxo” ice cider made with the autochthonous Errezil apple variety. It’s a sweet cider produced in a similar manner to late harvest wines. But this is not the only innovation that Zapiain has recently launched to the market. In addition to its star product, which is traditional natural cider, this cider house has just launched “Joanes de Zapiain”, a single-orchard cider that is a tribute to the first of the family's ancestors known to be associated with cider, back in the 16th century. Among the challenges facing the Zapiain cider house is its clear commitment to the Euskal Sagardoa Designation of Origin, in addition to its organically-grown products such as its ecological cider. Cider is a product that in recent years is experiencing a significant expansion all over the world. According to 50 Next, the Zapiain brothers “are uncovering the true potential of a drink that has traditionally been associated with old customs and local traditions”.