Champions of Change 2024

Champions of Change 2024

João Diamante; Caroline Caporossi and Jessica Rosval

Helping to rewrite people’s future through food

The Champions of Change Award recognises and celebrates unsung heroes of the hospitality sector who are driving positive action in their communities and creating blueprints for a more inclusive society.

Part of The World's 50 Best Restaurants programme, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, Champions of Change was introduced in 2021 in response to the hospitality sector rebuilding in the aftermath of the pandemic. The award serves to support the efforts of individuals bringing about significant changes for the better. The winners' causes will receive a donation, enabling them to continue their work and contribute to long-term progress in the food space.

Meet the Champions of Change 2024:

João Diamante, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazilian chef João Diamante founded Diamantes na Cozinha (Diamonds in the Kitchen) in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Since then, he has helped thousands of people from vulnerable backgrounds to learn culinary and business skills that help them to overcome poverty and embark on a career in gastronomy. Losing countless friends to drugs-related violence in the Rio de Janeiro favela where he lived until the age of 24, Diamante uses food to prevent others from taking the same path.

Born João Augusto Santos Batista, the chef was given the nickname ‘Diamond’ by a friend when they were children. Diamante gained interest in food during compulsory military service at the age of 17, where he worked as an admiral’s cook in the Brazilian Navy. After winning a scholarship to study gastronomy at university, he went to Paris for a stage at legendary chef Alain Ducasse’s Le Jules Verne. While he was offered the opportunity to stay in France, he felt compelled to return to Rio and give back to his community.

Diamante’s project consists of a month-long culinary and entrepreneurship course where he teaches students cooking, pastry, hospitality, food security, sustainability, marketing, sales and inclusion. Students are selected based on economic and psychological vulnerability and factors such as race, LGBTQ+ identity and single-parent status. Given food and a stipend, students can focus fully on the course, which in turn leads to employment.

In 2024, the chef opened his first restaurant, Diamante Gastrobar, staffed primarily by graduates of Diamantes na Cozinha. By equipping vulnerable people with the tools and means to escape poverty and gain meaningful employment, Diamante has proven himself as a true Champion of Change.

Caroline Caporossi and Jessica Rosval, Modena, Italy

Roots, a social enterprise restaurant with a paid Culinary Training Programme for migrant women who are passionate about food, was created by the dynamic duo of US-born Caroline Caporossi and Canadian-born Jessica Rosval. Founded in Modena, Italy, Roots is a hugely inspiring project helping to support and launch the careers of the city’s newest chefs.

Everything started when Caporossi met Ella, a Nigerian refugee. After hearing about her dream to become the first woman in her family to work, Caporossi helped secure Ella her first hospitality job at Food for Soul, the non-profit founded by Massimo Bottura. Caporossi realised it was important not only to help women find jobs, but that they would need the support of a training programme to provide them with the experience, self-confidence and qualifications to launch long-term careers. She met Rosval, an established chef based in Modena, and the pair became instant friends.

The duo launched the Association for the Integration of Women (AIW) in 2020 to provide resources for women to establish roots and flourish. The project comprises volunteer members from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds and trains 12 women each year in a four-month cycle.

From there, in 2022, Maria Assunta Ioele joined Caporossi and Rosval as a co-founder to open Roots. This self-sustaining social impact model is a co-working space during the day and a restaurant at night. The seasonal menu features dishes blending the cultures and diverse backgrounds of the women working on the pass. The project has become a space where migrant women living in Modena can learn, work and build self-confidence as they take their first steps towards a career in hospitality. Through their work, Caporossi and Rosval are attempting to eliminate prejudice in the Italian city while helping women to rewrite their own stories.

The Champions of Change awards are among a number of special accolades that have been announced as part of the lead-up to the 22nd edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, which will be announced on 5th June 2024 in Las Vegas. Tune in to the livestream of the awards ceremony on YouTube or Facebook.

To stay up to date with the latest news and announcements ahead of the ceremony, browse the website, join the community on Instagram, find us on Facebook, visit us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.