This past summer, the World Restaurant Awards announced its entry into the small cadre of international restaurant awards and ranking organizations. At the time, creative director Joe Warwick and judging panel chair Andrea Petrini didn’t know exactly what the new awards would look like — but they did know that they wanted them to be better than what’s already out there, promising to be “the annual event recognizing and celebrating the diversity of the international restaurant scene.” Today, they’ve filled in many of the missing details with the announcement of a 100-person judging panel and a long list of nominees for 18 awards categories.
When Warwick and Petrini first announced the new restaurant awards, owned and produced by IMG, they said that they would be fairer than others because of a gender-balanced judging panel and a variety of categories that represented the full scope of dining in the world. They wanted to honor forward-thinking, fine dining destinations alongside beloved classic restaurants.
The categories are divided into two sections: “Big Plates” and “Small Plates.” The former includes 12 awards categories, including “Enduring Classic,” “Original Thinking,” and “Off-Map Destination.” (Of the nominees in the U.S., NYC’s Russ and Daughters and Peter Luger’s and New Orleans’s Dooky Chase are nominated in the Enduring Classic category.) The Small Plates awards are more granular and meant to acknowledge “contemporary cultural nuances,“ according to the World Restaurant Awards website. The group includes awards for “Red Wine-Serving Restaurant,” “Tweezer-Free Kitchen,” and “Tattoo-Free Chef” (the nominees include 15 men and just three women). Oddly, this section also includes the award for longform journalism.
Another stated goal was to highlight restaurants and chefs that haven’t been at the center of restaurant awards for the past decade. Still, a number of nominees have received their fair share of media attention. Vespertine is nominated for three awards — “Original Thinking,” “Atmosphere,” and “Collaboration of the Year” — along with the Vespertine soundtrack composers This Will Destroy You. The “Arrival of the Year” long list features Oakland restaurant Nyum Bai, from Eater award winner Nite Yun, along with David Chang’s LA debut, Majordomo.
And it seems the awards committee thinks longtime awards darling Noma could use some more awards: It appears in the “Atmosphere,” “Ethical Thinking,” “Original Thinking,” and “Forward Drinking” categories, while Noma chef René Redzepi is nominated for “Tattoo-Free Chef” and “Instagram Account.”
There’s no set number of nominees for each category in the long list. The “Arrival of the Year” award has 25 nominees, while the “Collaboration of the Year” category has 18. The awards will also change, as decided each year by the 100-person judging panel, which this year includes chefs and journalists from 36 different countries. Apparently, judging panelists are also eligible for awards: Both Redzepi and Chang are on the list.
See how this particular awards mix plays out — the World Restaurant Awards will be televised — on February 18, and check out the full list of categories and long list of nominees below.
• The World Restaurant Awards [Official]