Relevance, opportunity and diversity: why we are changing The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

William Drew - 16/01/2019

William Drew, Group Editor of 50 Best, outlines why the organisation has instigated fresh initiatives for the voting panel, the voting process and the range of restaurants championed.

Innovation. Discovery. Creativity. Brilliant memories. These are just some of the elements that experience-hungry diners crave. Across the world, many are fortunate enough to indulge their combined passions for travel and gastronomy and they frequently use The World’s 50 Best Restaurants as a trusted guide to the ultimate global dining destinations.

To ensure The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and awards retain their relevance and excitement, we must evolve. Just as with the restaurants themselves, stagnation is the enemy. In 2019 and beyond, the 50 Best organisation needs not only to champion excellence, but also to promote humanity, inclusivity and opportunity.

So we are making some changes. First, the Academy of experts that makes up our voting panel – 1,040 individuals spread across the globe, whose choices ultimately shape the annual list – is now evenly balanced in gender terms. That means we have over 500 female voters, and 50 Best is committed to a policy of gender parity through its activities. Voters are also encouraged to look beyond the list itself in their travels, and will once again be asked to take issues of representation and reputation into consideration in their choices.

Second, we are refreshing our voting rules with the creation a new programme called ‘Best of the Best’. All restaurants that have topped the annual poll of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, over its 17-year history will now ascend into this group. They will be feted as all-time greats, and it also means that they will no longer be eligible for the annual ranking.

“As the world of food and restaurants continues to progress, it’s exciting to see 50 Best evolve along with it,” says Daniel Humm, chef and co-owner of Eleven Madison Park, which was crowned No.1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017. “With these changes, 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. Food is all about community and expanding that will only strengthen our impact.”

The restaurants that will be promoted to the Best of the Best group from June 2019 include the now-closed el Bulli, The French Laundry, The Fat Duck, El Celler de Can Roca, Eleven Madison Park, current No.1 Osteria Francescana and the original Noma. The new incarnation of Noma, opened in February 2018 with a new concept, location and structure, will this year be eligible for the first time.

Third, 50 Best will launch a new platform later in 2019, mapping the world with the best dining and drinking destinations that have been nominated by the 50 Best voters, inspiring and shaping gourmets’ and cocktail aficionados’ travels and discoveries. More details on this initiative will follow in the coming months.

Ultimately, we believe these changes offer more brilliant restaurants, and the talent behind them, the chance to step on to the global gastronomic stage. We believe this will result in a more diverse and inclusive list in the long-term. At the same time, the Best of the Best initiative creates a platform for the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world to share their incredible knowledge and passion, and use their status for positive change.

Joan Roca, head chef and co-owner of the legendary El Celler de Can Roca in Spain, which was named The World’s Best Restaurant in 2013 and 2015, says: “With this new formula, a larger number of restaurants will be able to live the dream that we achieved. And this dream is not over. The ‘Best of the Best’ is a new paradigm that strengthens and reflects the nature of our profession, which is characterised by generosity, community and humanity. A human revolution is here, aided by this 50 Best initiative.”

We are excited to see what the future holds for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2019 and beyond.

Ahead of the next edition of The World's 50 Best Restaurants in Singapore, catch up on the highlights from the 2018 festivities in the Basque Country:

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