World’s 50 Best Restaurants Rules Out the “Best”

Once at the top, #1 restaurants see themselves removed from the competition. But at that level, where do they go from there?

2019-06-25 23:37:03 2019-06-25 23:51:39

The hex symbol, better known under its millennial alias – hashtag, has taken a whole new form and meaning in the last 5 years, especially with the strengthening force of social media. Many now read ‘#1’ (number one) as “hashtag one”; sometimes I must confess that I’m unsure when it should be called which. Well, let that thought simmer for a bit. On to the big news.

If you haven’t yet heard, the World’s 50 Best committee has announced earlier this year that a new rule has been implemented: previous “World’s #1 Restaurant” titleholders won’t be able to compete in subsequent installments of the most prestigious culinary award ceremony. The question many of us have asked is: Where do you go after attaining #1 restaurant IN THE WORLD?

William Drew, Group Editor of World’s 50 Best, has the answer. They’ve inaugurated a new programme this year. A Hall of Fame equivalent in the annals of World’s 50 Best’s history: “Best of the Best”. And previous #1 restaurants through the 17-year run of the award have been shown the door (to it).

For better or for worse, the effects are yet to be seen.

Image courtesy of Honeycombers.

The event is known to already have some controversies, and this new regulation is just another ingredient in the wok of issues surrounding it. Received with mixed feelings by many of the industry’s top chefs among others, the issue seems to lie with the intention and implications of the action, rather than the action itself, for both World’s 50 Best and chefs alongside their respective restaurants.

However, it is not without good reason that they have decided to go ahead with this change. And it’s not the only change the committee has made this year either. Group Editor of 50 Best William Drew explains the rationale behind some of their changes, summing it up simply in three words: “relevance, opportunity and diversity”.

A beaming Daniel Humm receiving his award for World’s Best Restaurant in 2017 for his restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. Image courtesy of Eater.

The aforementioned ascension into the “Best of the Best” is meant to do two things: to open up the list for a larger variety of restaurants to win the title and what Drew seems to suggest as a means to an end for competition amongst the top restaurants. Of course, there are two camps to this notion. Amongst the proponents of this move is Daniel Humm, chef and co-owner of Eleven Madison Park. Crowned #1 in World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017, Humm remarks: “We’ll see a broader field of restaurants and chefs step onto the international stage and it’s humbling to be able to contribute to that transformation. However, René Redzepi, chef and owner of Noma, seems sceptical about the change, wondering how this will impact the influence of World’s 50 Best.

It is really debatable what will happen because anything can happen. One thing is for sure, World’s 50 Best is not going anywhere, and they have plans for progression in the future.

Back to the thought above. In the relentless rampage of technological advancement, social media and online sources have become a behemoth in the information exchange industry. It’s much easier to type out “World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019” and hit search than to buy tickets and attend the events. And you get quick results too. You could even do it while on the way to the events. I will leave you with some food for thought, because after all, we’re a food magazine:

Is there more to such events than simply competing for the title of World’s Best? The aftereffects are rife in this atmosphere of competition and a lot more are at stake than just the title. Will being immortalised as all-time greats in a Hall of Fame be sufficient for the restaurants who have won the title? I believe the question still remains – where could they go from there?

Observant and mostly impartial, Joshua has an uncanny predilection for an appreciation of things. This English student yearns to see the coffee story told to people, more than just pretty cafes and tulips. His favourite quote: “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…”