Happy World's 50 Best Restaurants announcement day, everyone. Soon enough, the gang at Restaurant Magazine will announce their picks in London for the top 50 restaurants in the world. Do check out last year's list and follow along at home.
But first, want to do some rumormongering? The big news this year — as every year — is whether or not the returning number one restaurant can retain its position. Last year Girona, Spain's El Celler de Can Roca hit number one for the first time, knocking longtime frontrunner Noma out of the spot. This year, Noma's head chef Dan Giusti has had some time to settle into the position he had newly acquired when last year's list was announced, so they have a shot at reclaiming the title. And don't sleep on number three, Massimo Bottura's Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. There are more rumors to monger where those came from:
How Important Is the World's 50 Best List?
While there is a ton of hype around the list, do the rankings actually make an impact? Anecdotally, chef Albert Adrià — of the former number one restaurant, elBulli — says yes. "The 50 best has done a lot of damage to Michelin," Adrià told the Guardian. "I've been to restaurants that have three Michelin stars and they're not full. But the 20 first of the '50 best' are completely full." The Sunday Times agrees: "The awards were launched only in 2002 but they have already eclipsed the Michelin guides."
Similarly, check out this Google Trends chart Big Hospitality ran:
Online interest in both Noma and El Celler de Can Roca massively spiked when each restaurant was named number one on the 50 Best list.
Richard Vines, Bloomberg critic and chair of the UK/Ireland panel for the 50 Best List, sees the flaws in the system, though. "The term "best restaurant" doesn't mean a lot, and when you look at the rankings, they are confusing. You might go a long way to find anyone who thought in 2013 that Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was the seventh-best in the world when the Fat Duck placed at 33."
Although the list will be announced at 6:00AM on the East Coast of Australia — ouch — there's still plenty of chatter about the list Down Under. Gourmet Traveller's Pat Nourse "made an impromptu poll of his fellow regional chairpeople" and came to the following conclusion:
Of the 30 panelists we've just spoken to, 15 are tipping Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, which was named number one in 2013, to hold onto the top spot. The next most widely tipped restaurant was Italy's Osteria Francescana, with the few remaining dissenters suggesting that either a re-entry from previous winner Noma, or an upset from New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park was on the cards.
Meanwhile, John Lethlean at the Australian hears about the local chefs from an anonymous insider. Apparently it will be "a disappointing year" for team Australia, with only ex-pats like David Thompson (Nahm, Bangkok) and Brett Graham (The Ledbury, London) making the list. There will be "one exception," though, writes Lethlean. "No prizes for guessing who."
The Wall Street Journal talked to current chefs on the list and asked for their picks for restaurants they'd like to see on the list. Several (Grant Achatz, René Redzepi, Eric Ripert) picked Japanese restaurants, either in Tokyo or abroad. A good number of chefs (Andoni Luis Aduriz, Andreas Caminada ) would like to see Michel Bras's Laguiole, France restaurant make the list as well.
Finally, Xanthe Clay at the Telegraph notes that while most contenders for World's 50 Best top slots had one representative at the pre-announcement press conference, New York City's Eleven Madison Park had both chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara present. "Yes, that's right," writes Clay. "Two representatives from the Manhattan palace restaurant, where the others earned just one place at the microphone. If I had a beard, I'd be stroking it thoughtfully."
All will be revealed later this afternoon. Stay tuned.
· The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 preview [GT]
· Best restaurant awards go off the eaten track [The Australian]
· 'World's best restaurant': is there really such a thing? [Guardian]
· Will el Celler de Can Roca retain top spot? [Big Hospitality]
· Top Chefs' Top Restaurants [WSJ]
· Picking the World's Best Restaurants and Whether It Matters [Bloomberg]
· Michelin is deflated by upstart rival [Sunday Times]
· World's 50 Best Restaurants: which restaurant will be the 2014 winner? [Telegraph]
· All World's 50 Best Coverage on Eater [-E-]