Page 26 - foodservice magazine August 2019
P. 26

Anthony Huckstep is the national restaurant critic for delicious. and a food writer for The Australian, GQ Australia and QANTAS Magazine.
Imight be grumpier than a grey, old grizzly bear, but
I find the whole 50 World’s
Best Restaurants all a bit yawn-worthy.
It’s wonderful recognition for those in it, sure, and it brings attention to restaurants you might want to visit, but the circus and media frenzy that surrounds it is as nauseating as viewing back-to-back episodes of My Kitchen Rules (ok, I’ve never done that). It’s hard to escape the results if you’re one to scroll through the never-ending dissatisfaction of social media.
I’ll concede the awards
have a good intention. It aims to celebrate the restaurants across the globe that break new boundaries and set an agenda.
But are they really? You could name 50 restaurants in Japan alone that could put every restaurant on the list on notice.
Firstly, the award is male dominated. Full stop. Despite this year’s new rule of gender equality in the judging (over 1000 industry experts travel the world and vote on the winners), it seems even a 50/50 gender split can’t shake the boys’ club atmosphere.
Secondly, it’s very predictable – though they’re attempting to alter this perception.
One of the many controversial
issues it’s faced is the lack
of anonymity. Within the group of chefs, food writers and gourmands that head the judging panel, there is very much a ‘look after our own’ feeling hovering over the process.
Currently there is no rule
that stops lobbying for votes, and those voting are not required to pay for their meal. The notion
of a free lunch leaves a bad taste in your mouth – especially if you consider #couscousforcomment that critic John Lethlean has been driving to expose ‘influencers’ who ask for a free meal in return for a post on Instagram.
What’s become more controversial is the new rule that says previous winners cannot be named again.
This defies the logic of the awards themselves. If you run the best restaurant in the world, but can’t be named by default, then are they giving out trophies to second best?
The truth is, no matter how they judge it, it will be smeared with controversies – all lists and awards always are – because there’s no hard and fast method to get it 100 per cent right. And we all have differing views of what constitutes the best restaurant.
What annoys me though is the toying of perceptions by media and
gourmands alike. If a restaurant on the list moves back down to a lower ranking, the public reacts as if they’ve got leprosy.
Any chef would give an arm and a leg to simply be on the list – as the light shines so brightly on them.
Attica, for instance, moved from 20 to 84 this year. Mind you, the judges essentially vote on places they’ve been to in the last 12 months – paid for or not.
Making the top 100 in the world is incredible, no matter how it’s judged or where you land on the list. I’d bet Attica is as good as, if not better than, it’s ever been.
How many of those globetrotting judges made it to Attica, do you think? Or to our other wonderful restaurants, Brae, Orana, Firedoor and so on.
I understand the intention of the list is good. Those chosen to vote know their stuff better than most, but the ‘out of favour’ and ‘in vogue’ weight the media and the industry place on the results really gets my goat.
For a list that embarks
on celebrating diversity of excellence the world over, it’s often relegated to mud-slinging on those who didn’t garner enough votes. Odd, considering the realistic chances of making it on there in the first place.

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