A gala was held on 3 December in Munich to honour the recipients of this year’s Eckart Witzigmann Prize. The “Chef of the Century” has awarded the Eckart 2013 to his colleagues Joël Robuchon, Alex Atala, Kevin Fehling, as well as German actress Martina Gedeck. 

The event took place at the BMW World in Munich, where 240 guests were treated to a gala dinner consisting of seven courses after the prizes were presented. The prize, launched in 2004, is one of the most important culinary awards and recognises outstanding achievement in cooking and food culture.

The newly created award for “creative responsibility and enjoyment” went to Alex Atala, who has committed himself to the rediscovery and the processes of produce in the Amazon region. Asked what he is planning to use the prize money of €10,000 for, Atala said: “We want to use it to make a difference, therefore we will invest it in a non-profit-initiative called Associação Instituto Atá which was founded in April 2013 in Brazil. I am a founding member of this institute and it has so far been run by volunteers. Its purpose is to look into the relationship of people and food.” 

In practice Atala explained that the initiative strives to find out more about the whole chain of nature, the production and distribution of food, right through to cooking and eating. “It’s about strengthening the regional diversity – organic, agricultural and social – to give good food to all people, which also helps the environment. The Atá-institute sets out to find out more about the current nutritional models, which are not based on a sense of guilt, but stimulate an appetite for a different kind of nutrition.” 

The prize for the “high art of cooking” went to Joël Robuchon, who is one of the most prominent and influential representatives of the international gourmet cuisine. The 68-year-old Frenchman, who has been awarded the same title of “Chef of the Century” as Witzigmann himself by the Gault Millau guide, is one of the most successful Michelin star chefs with numerous restaurants anywhere between New York and Tokyo. 

The prize for “innovation” went to Kevin Fehling. The 36-year-old German is one of the youngest three-star Michelin chefs. His restaurant in Hotel Columbia in Travemünde, Northern Germany, has become his hub of creativity, where he uses local and international produce to composes his creations.

The actress Martina Gedeck was awarded the prize for “pleasure and lifestyle”. Asked about the connection between cooking and acting she said: “If the clear, pure and simple succeed, true mastery is revealed.”