The debates have started, the controversies have appeared and the arguments will go on for the best part of the year. Yes, the annual ‘Wold’s 50 Best Restaurants’ list was revealed during a glittering ceremony at the Guildhall last night. Two London restaurants made it to the list: The Ledbury moved up a place to number 13, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal rose two places to number 7. The number one spot went to Girona’s El Celler De Can Roca, and second place was claimed by Copenhagen’s Noma — last year’s winner.
The ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ was launched in 2002 by Restaurant magazine as a publicity stunt. Since then, the awards have grown in stature and are widely anticipated each year. The list is compiled by over 900 well-travelled restaurant experts around the world, including food writers, chefs and restaurateurs. Organised by William Reed media, the awards are not really meant to be definitive, but rather “an annual snapshot” and “an honourable survey of current tastes”.
This is how they work: the entire world is divided up into 26 regions that represent the international dining scene. Each region comprises a panel of 36 judges, including a regional chair, and every member has 7 votes – at least 3 of which must be given to restaurants outside their region. The panel changes a little bit each year. UK and Ireland has several well-known London judges, though they wish to remain anonymous.
Voting is strictly confidential, and the judges must have eaten in the restaurant in the last 18 months. They must not have any association with the venues they’re voting for. There’s no set criteria: it doesn’t matter whether the restaurant is famous or obscure, small or large, family-run or Michelin-starred, as long as the food is delicious and exciting.
Brett Graham, head chef at The Ledbury, said after the ceremony that the award means a lot to him: “It’s a great recognition for the team, especially as it’s such a young team, and also for the two fabulous business partners.” When asked what makes the Ledbury quintessentially ‘London’, the young Australian chef said it was a combination of “the Notting Hill location, the English countryside décor and the use of English ingredients.”
Several other London venues made it onto the 50 to 100 list (which is published alongside the 50 Best list): Pollen Street Social came in at number 84, St John at 71, Hedone at 70, and Viajante at 59 – all of which are widely acclaimed and must-visit foodie destinations. For a single city to have so many restaurants on the ‘world’s best’ list is truly astonishing. As talk turned at the after-party about which is the best city in the world to dine out in, it was clear that London has a lot to celebrate.
What do you think of the ‘World’s 50 Best’ awards? Which are YOUR best London restaurants? Have they made it onto the list? Which restaurants would you like to see on next year’s list? Tell us in the comment box below.
By Sejal Sukhadwala