Vilcek Foundation to award $50,000 for immigrant culinary arts professionals

The 2017 Vilcek Awards // Photo courtesy the Vilcek Foundation

The 2016 Vilcek Awards // Photo courtesy The Vilcek Foundation

The Vilcek Foundation is awarding $50,000 to three immigrant culinary arts professionals for 2019’s Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise.

Since 2009, the nonprofit has awarded Prizes for Creative Promise to encourage and support emerging immigrants who have demonstrated exceptional achievements. Awarded annually in biomedical science and in one rotating category of the arts, it was announced that the 2019 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise will recognize accomplishments in the field of the culinary arts.

“The culinary arts are a medium through which culture is preserved, elevated, merged, and enriched,” says Marica Vilcek, co-founder and vice chairman of the Vilcek Foundation. “For years, immigrants have been at the vanguard of culinary innovation, and we are pleased to recognize this rich body of contributions through the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise.”

The Vilcek Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the foundation, to honor the contributions of immigrants to the United States and to foster appreciation of the arts and sciences, was inspired by the couple’s respective careers in biomedical science and art history, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation of the opportunities they received as newcomers to this country.

Laos-born pastry-chef Varin Keokitvon; a Chef Instructor for the Seattle-based FareStart, received a $25,000 reward as a part of the 2010 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in the Arts. He trains homeless and struggling individuals for careers in the culinary arts // Photo courtesy The Vilcek Foundation

Laos-born pastry-chef Varin Keokitvon won the 2010 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in the Arts while working at Seattle-based FareStart. He is now a chef at Seattle’s Heartwood Provisions // Photo courtesy The Vilcek Foundation

Since launching the prizes, the foundation has awarded approximately $4 million in cash prizes to 105 individuals from 48 different countries, including Guatemala, Iran, Romania, China, and Russia.

Applications are now open for the 2019 Creative Promise Prizes in Culinary Arts. Applicants must have been born outside of the U.S., must be 38 years of age or younger, and have five years of professional practice under their foodie belts, who also demonstrate extraordinary talent, commitment, and potential to advance the culinary arts field.

Eligible applicants are immigrant professionals working in the following capacities:

  • Chefs and food preparers — Chefs, sous chefs, pastry chefs, caterers, test kitchen
    chefs, bakers, and prepared food makers (craft jams, chocolates, cheeses, charcuterie,
  • Beverage professionals — Vintners, distillers, brewers, beverage program managers,
    bartenders, and coffee roasters
  • Food writers — Food writers, critics, publishers, and cookbook authors

Applications will be accepted from now until June 11, 2018, with the prizewinners announced in February 2019.