The Vilcek Prizes epitomize the mission of the Vilcek Foundation, which was formed by Jan and Marica Vilcek to honor the contributions of foreign-born individuals in the United States. “Immigration is central to the spirit of our country and has played a major role in securing America’s leadership position in the world,” said Dr. Jan T. Vilcek, President of the Foundation. “Our prizewinners are excellent examples of how immigrants continue to fuel innovation and enrich our society.”
Deemed a “food philosopher” by NPR and dubbed “Mr. Spain” by the culinary vanguard, Chef Andrés’s emphasis on the link between culture and cuisine reflects the Vilcek Foundation’s values of enriching American society through the infusion of immigrant culture and talent. Chef Andrés is the founder of ThinkFoodGroup, which operates groundbreaking restaurants such as Jaleo and minibar by josé andrés in Washington D.C., and The Bazaar in Los Angeles. As the Host and Producer of Made in Spain, the PBS food and travel series, Chef Andrés brought the various regions of his beloved homeland to American culture. Chef Andrés has also championed the role of chefs in the national discussion on hunger and nutrition issues. Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine magazine, will present his award.
The prizewinners were selected by panels of experts after months of research and deliberation. The culinary arts jury is comprised of prominent culinary experts including Ruth Reichl, former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine; Dan Barber, Executive Chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns; and Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation.
The Foundation also recognizes the accomplishments of younger immigrants who have achieved notable success with the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise. The Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in the Arts is awarded to Laos-born pastry-chef Varin Keokitvon; a Chef Instructor for the Seattle-based FareStart, he trains homeless and struggling individuals for careers in the culinary arts. In addition, four finalists from each category will be honored.
Last night Jose and Varin were honored at the Ambassador of Spain, Jorge Dezcallar's, home.
The Foundation’s fifth annual awards presentation dinner will be held at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City on Wednesday, April 7, 2010.
The Vilcek Foundation aims to raise public awareness of the contributions of immigrants to the sciences, arts, and culture in the United States. The Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the Foundation was inspired by the couple’s respective careers in biomedical science and art history, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation for the opportunities offered them as newcomers to the United States. In addition to awarding annual prizes in the biomedical sciences and the arts, the Vilcek Foundation showcases the work of immigrant artists, filmmakers, and others, at its headquarters at 167 East 73rd Street, New York City.