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AlexForbes

World's 50 best restaurants list

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Was the Fat Duck ranked before or after it closed due to the food poisoning problem there this winter?


Edited by sethd (log)

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Top Tip: For all the people relatively new to the board can I suggest that you read the following threads You might be able to save yourself some typing by cutting and pasting other members previous posts

2008

2008 (again)

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

Perhaps we should make this thread a sticky so we don't have to bother next year :laugh:


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I'm a Hong Kong based juror and I can assure you, I did eat at the restaurants I voted for within the stipulated 18 months. That included El Bulli - which I've voted for for the past two years - because I ate there in 2006 and 2007. If I'm on the panel for the 2010 list, I won't vote for it again because I didn't eat there in 2008 (and don't have plans to go there this year).

I think that just because a restaurant is old doesn't mean it doesn't still deserve praise, and nor does it mean it isn't still extremely influential.

ETA: I'm not defending the list entirely - there are restaurants on the list that I find extremely puzzing (Zuma Hong Kong, for one). But I'm defending the integrity of most of the jurors.

Actually, I just realised, I voted for EB three times - for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 lists. But all three times were within the stipulated 18 months of eating there.


Edited by aprilmei (log)

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A list to take with a pinch of salt, which is I think what Jay was saying; it is simply a bit of fun. But is it?

The problem with the list is that it reinforces a narrow stereotype. Take Australia as an example. Food journo #1 asks journo #2 where to eat when in Australia: Tetsuyas and Quay. Journo #2 has a short trip to Aus eats in these two plus a couple of others. The cycle goes on. 99% of visitors eat in these two restaurants plus a few other random restaurants, but too random to show up on voting. As Alex mentions this is the same reason for Steirereck's position on the list.

OK it is like the "WH Smiths Top 50 albums you must own" innocuous and a bit of fun (but you would never buy Val Doonicans Greatest Hits). So why am I against it? IMO it is too narrow, it limits experimentation. The Fat Duck is the best restaurant in the UK only because 99% of the panel went there (did it have to be within the voting period?), so 99% of visitors will still try to go there because it is #2 on the list. It is self reinforcing.

How could it be improved. Simple: publish a top 50 for each sub region, or at least a top 20. It would expand the publics perception of good food in a region, and could broaden peoples/journos experience i.e. instead of having two "must try" restaurants on the list for Australia there are 20, a broader sample size for the next survey, and maybe some more interesting, less predictable choices (of course that would depend on the panel members having actually eaten in 50 or 20 restaurants in each region).

What the world's best list does is fosters conversation. Both for who is on the list and who is omitted. Similarly, most of us can state what the best restaurants are in a specific region. Who are the reviewers? How is the list viewed by chefs and restauranteurs? Will Per Se be celebrating today that it is "best in the Americas"(happen to agree with that one)?I have had the opportunity to have eaten at 10 of the restaurants on the 2009 list. Although I have seen michelin plaques and new york times reviews posted in the entrance of many of these restaurants, I can't recall seeing a similar plaque citing the restaurants position on this "worlds best 50 list.

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Who are the reviewers? How is the list viewed by chefs and restauranteurs? Will Per Se be celebrating today that it is "best in the Americas"(happen to agree with that one)?I

sethd, to answer a couple of your questions: the reviewers are, mostly, chefs, restaurant owners and food writers like myself. This year, I think over 800 judges in total. How do chefs view this? Well, if they didn't care, then surely Grant Achatz wouldn't have left his rest. at 3 am to get on a flight a few hours later for London. Ferran went. Arzak went. Alex Atala went. Heck, THEY ALL WENT. The big shots, I mean.

How many awards things do these guys attend? Few. Especially the very hard-working,

non-imperialistic chefs like Achatz.

so it's easy to say the list is bs. But I really think the chefs disagree.

they care A LOT.


Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

Official Website

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Who are the reviewers? How is the list viewed by chefs and restauranteurs? Will Per Se be celebrating today that it is "best in the Americas"(happen to agree with that one)?I

sethd, to answer a couple of your questions: the reviewers are, mostly, chefs, restaurant owners and food writers like myself. This year, I think over 800 judges in total. How do chefs view this? Well, if they didn't care, then surely Grant Achatz wouldn't have left his rest. at 3 am to get on a flight a few hours later for London. Ferran went. Arzak went. Alex Atala went. Heck, THEY ALL WENT. The big shots, I mean.

How many awards things do these guys attend? Few. Especially the very hard-working,

non-imperialistic chefs like Achatz.

so it's easy to say the list is bs. But I really think the chefs disagree.

they care A LOT.

Thanks for the info. Didn't mean to imply that the list was b.s. and I apologize if my response was taken that way. I guess I can mention the list to Jean Georges tonight. Could you give more info on how the list is chosen. There is alot of variation in style and atmosphere of the restaurants on your list or is the quality of the food the sole criterion for inclusion. For example, Mirazur and Louis XV are both superb restaurants (I ate at both on the same day last year), but completely different in approach, style, atmosphere, level of formality etc.

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I think the fact that the awards are generally congruent to the collective perspective of people who dine at a global level adds somewhat to it's validity. This isn't a situation where the list goes up, and people react with a "wha???", this isn't a situation where the NYT reviewer loves Italian food, so every Italian joint get's at least 2 or 3 stars - in general people know Ramsay is struggling, that Per Se & Alinea are at the top of their game right now, that the Spanish chefs are not a fad, or at least not one that has lost even an ounce of steam etc... Are there exceptions? Of course, but they don't seem criminal in any sense.

As for what a man like JG thinks, I would be interested, cause I would expect the French to care the least about this. Their standards are set to French restaurants, their bellwether the Michelin report. I imagine this means much less to them than to a chef like Achatz, who lacks some of the validation and reaffirmation provided by the likes of Michelin, NYT etc... (for which undoubtedly they would score 3 & 4 stars respectively).

One other thing of interest is the fact that restaurants post Relais & Chateaux and Michelin plaques outside their establishments, but not this Top 50. And I can understand why - look at TFL. One year they are in first, then they slip and slip and slip, and pretty soon you have a plaque validating the opinion of a ranking that has, in essence, given you a pretty serious slap in the face by ranking you behind your little brother and a former apprentice. There is no real large divide like there is between being 3 stars and 2 stars Michelin, it's far more volatile, real time, and perhaps even accurate in some sense. Short of being El Bulli, and who knows in 5 years, I'd be a bit worried about having this out front.

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I speak with JG whenever I am at the restaurant and will ask him how he views this list. I really don't think Achatz needs any validation of his restaurant. He is a great chef with an even more impressive and remarkable biography. Remember, in the most recent Gourmet list of the best in the USA, he received top prize.

I agree that they are very few shocks on the list. Yes, El Bulli is the best in the world, has been for years, and will remain so as long as Adria runs that ship. However, how do you compare restaurants with such different focus as Momofuko and Per Se, Louis XV and Mirazur, Les Ambassadeurs and L'astrance? The food is superb in all of them, but isn't the overall dining experience different sitting at a table at Per Se and eating at the counter in Momofuko?

Also, there is universal knowledge of the significance of the Michelin Guide or what membership in relais and chateaux means to the lay public. How many people really know about this World's Best List other than top toques and people who spend way too much time on boards like this one.

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Who are the reviewers?

I'm pretty sure I was one of them this year. A long time ago I got an email from some food-world big-shot asking me to vote in the S. Pellegrino awards thing. I didn't even realize that was the same thing as the old Restaurant Magazine awards. I guess it got rebranded at some point? Anyway, I was assigned to a region, in my case something like "US: East." I then went to a web interface where I was able to select the 5 best meals I'd had in the past 18 months, 3 from my region and 2 from outside my region. This are the instructions I was given, if you're curious:

The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, first published in 2002 and now in its eighth year, has become an eagerly anticipated, internationally influential indicator of the best places to eat on earth. The list is compiled by collating the votes cast by The Nespresso World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy.

The Nespresso World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy has been created by dividing the world into regions with a chairperson in each region selected for their knowledge of their part of the restaurant world, as well as knowing the right people to ask to vote, ie you. Thank you for casting your vote.

Voting is simple, please click below to cast your vote. We ask you to vote for your five best restaurants in order of preference for The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list 2009.

We do have a few rules please take a read before you proceed. Votes that do not adhere to these rules cannot be submitted, and you will be asked to vote again.

Voting rules- The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list:

    * Panellists must vote for 5 restaurants, no more and no less than 5 restaurants.

    * Panellists may only vote for up to 3 restaurants within their own region. The remaining 2 votes must be for restaurants located outside the panellists region (you will be reminded of your region and the countries that includes when you proceed to vote). Please note it is not obligatory to vote for any restaurants in your own region if you wish not to.

    * Panellists must vote for their chosen restaurants in preferential order.

    * You may only nominate a restaurant once.

    * Panellists, where they work for / own restaurants cannot vote for their own restaurant's.

    * Votes must be cast for the Restaurant not for the Restaurateur or the chef.

    * Panellists must have eaten in the restaurants they are nominating in the past 18 months. (Please note- You will be asked to give the month of your visit).

Please also note:

    * All votes are confidential and will not be disclosed or published without voter's written consent.

    * The results will not be disclosed until the awards event - April 20, 2009

To view past 50 Best lists click here

Click here to vote for your 5 Best Restaurants 2009


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think the fact that the awards are generally congruent to the collective perspective of people who dine at a global level adds somewhat to it's validity.

I would say that is its weakness - I am not certain I trust jetset diners more than well grounded locals (there are notable exceptions).

From my understanding of how the voting works a panel member uses two out of five of their votes for restaurants out of their home region. Some will know the relative standing of these two restaurants quite well, whilst others may only have sampled one or two within that region. As a result up to 40% of the votes have the potential to be far less accurate than the 60% for their home territory (their area of deep expertise).

OK it creates a discussion and some fun in the debate, but it is sad that some really great restaurants miss out to some pretty average ones - or maybe that is just London...!

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The questions we always need to ask in such exercises involving rank-ordering are (1.) Is the exercise rigorous?; (2) Does it purport to measure the subject at hand (this is, after all, a quantitative exercise) with accuracy and validity? (3), Do the participants (all 800) report or judge on an equal basis and are they subjected to the same and entire phenomenon under analysis? (4) Do all the participants work from the same set of data? (5). Do the participants have full empirical knowledge of what it is they have been asked to judge? I strongly suspect the answer to all of these is no.

That the establishment at the top of the list (four years in a row, no less) is one that almost no restaurant goer can gain entry to, let alone 800 of them each-year, is the best indicator of how fraudulent and intellectually useless this “50 Best” exercise is. In reality, it is nothing more than a circle jerk comprised of people whose notion of “best” is limited to restaurants that innately provide the most fodder for the media mills and who desire to create an artificial buzz with an awards dinner thrown in.. I would even go so far to say that it is counter-productive to the notion of the acquisition of gastronomic connoisseurship. How many of these restaurants tie your hands at the moment of ordering, avoid the necessity of cooking whole smaller fish and animals, “mechanize” their kitchens and reduce numbers of staff, and all of whose cooking never transcends the restaurant and the chef’s ego themselves. . Ironically, Ferran Adria has just about christened a simple fish restaurant in his town (Resaurant Rafa in Rosas) as among his very favorite (if not his number one favorite). Yet, such restaurants i.e. those that offer uncomplicated, down-to-earth and time-tested preparations using products of such impeccable quality and pristineness that are rarely encountered in these “50 Greatest” establishments, despite the fact that any truly experienced and open-minded gastronome will count such restaurants as represented by seafood restaurants on the French and Italian coasts, lobster pounds in Maine, Piemontese restaurants offering truffles in the fall, and meals taken in some riyokan in Japan as being among his most memorable meals in a culinary life.

People criticize other “Best” compilations and awards such as the Oscars or the National Book Awards for some of the same reasons some of you criticize this one. However, with a book or a film, those that judge these competitions at least deal with manifestations that are identical and fixed; not restaurants, which are constantly changing in personnel, dishes, consistency and economic or financial tinkering in the drive for profits and, especially now, survival. (Books and movies don’t have good days and not-so-good days). In both this 50 Greatest Restaurants and the James Beard Foundation awards, you can almost hear the organizers jimmying the system. “It’s about time we gave an award to this chef or this restaurant”. “Let’s add in some restaurants of other countries” “Why haven’t we ever including XYZ; isn’t it time?” In other words, let the restaurant industry—its chefs, restaurateurs, PR and journalistic shills—have its annual plaything regardless of whether some or all take it seriously, while those of us in search of culinary truth give it nothing more than the quick glance it deserves. (I won’t count the hour or two it has taken me to post this).

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I understand your rant - there is nothing necessarily less memorable about eating a bucket of seasoned boiled crabs, muscles, clams, corn, sausage etc... with a loaf of fresh baked sourdough bread, butter packets, cold beer and a bib off of a communal wooden table overlooking some dock somewhere in the Northwest of the US than there is from enjoying a sublime extended tasting menu from Per Se. Your examples are just as agreeable.

I do have several reactions though:

To compare the two as RESTAURANTS is IMO sheer folly, and I'll do my best not to completely butcher this argument on behalf of places and people with 1000x my grey matter in this area. First, I'd say there are any number of kitchens that can prepare the type of meals you personally cherish the most as guardian of "gastronomic connoisseurship" - in fact I've eaten at a number of "best ever" lobster shacks in the N.E. over the years, and found them - under ideal romanticized conditions as you've laid out - to be just as memorable as you state. But note that you fail to identify single establishments, and rather just lay out broad regions and types of joints, implying correctly that some number of them will do the trick - what they do is (purposefully) not rocket science, even if it's capable of being quite memorable.

By way of contrast, the restaurant experience of El Bulli is simply not at this level, there is only one such place on this planet, and it takes a particular man, in a particular place, willing to sacrifice a certain amount of profit, able to draw a certain amount of young talent, to be able to provide it. It is a far and away more complicated dining experience that simply cannot be duplicated to the same extent by any other restaurateur. But it also goes beyond the uniqueness of the experience at many restaurants on that list.

Speaking in defense of a place I know better than El Bulli, Per Se (by way of example) has managed to tap into so many different memorable experiences in the course of a single meal, let alone over several visits, that when you compare it to the more... singular experience of the restaurant types you describe your argument just doesn't hold up. Take those truffles away from those Piedmontese restaurants you love so much, and I'm guessing you lose something memorable. Ask that seafood joint to make you steak and chicken instead. Take the lobster away from the shack. What are you left with? At Per Se, the answer is still a memorable meal cause it's simply staffed with some of the most talented cooks in the world, it's simply one of the worlds finest restaurants. Heck, I've seen an entire 9 course+ gluten free meal at Per Se and DAMN it made me drool. Bruni handed them 4 stars on the strength of a totally vegetarian meal. Their entire menu changes at every single table for every single service, all according to who is dining, and even potentially to what it is you want to eat that night. THAT is an amazing world class restaurant that is worthy of being the #6 restaurant on the list, and I don't see how you can equate a restaurant with the operational capabilities to deliver experiences of this nature to the ones that you outlined in your post.

On a separate note, the other thing I personally didn't find agreeable was this:

In reality, it is nothing more than a circle jerk comprised of people whose notion of “best” is limited to restaurants that innately provide the most fodder for the media mills and who desire to create an artificial buzz with an awards dinner thrown in.. I would even go so far to say that it is counter-productive to the notion of the acquisition of gastronomic connoisseurship.

Not sure if this was your intent, or if I'm off the mark, but you come off as incredibly condescending and for some reason even angry towards a whole group of people that I'm sure you would otherwise consider your peers if you met them in due course at said lobster shacks over a beer. It's barely worth noting were you not the sage of a place like eG.

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. . . with a book or a film, those that judge these competitions at least deal with manifestations that are identical and fixed; not restaurants, which are constantly changing in personnel, dishes, consistency and economic or financial tinkering in the drive for profits and, especially now, survival.

Precisely. The food we eat is as ephemeral as the air we breathe. As whole economies collapse before our eyes, such detailed, carved-in-stone certifications of excellence are as arbitrary and unproductive as oxygen counts in industrial cities. By the time next year's mutual grope comes around, how many of these establishments will still be solvent?
In reality, it is nothing more than a circle jerk comprised of people whose notion of “best” is limited to restaurants that innately provide the most fodder for the media mills and who desire to create an artificial buzz with an awards dinner thrown in.. I would even go so far to say that it is counter-productive to the notion of the acquisition of gastronomic connoisseurship.

Not sure if this was your intent, or if I'm off the mark, but you come off as incredibly condescending and for some reason even angry towards a whole group of people that I'm sure you would otherwise consider your peers if you met them in due course at said lobster shacks over a beer. It's barely worth noting were you not the sage of a place like eG.

Context is all. If Robert were to meet any of these judges in a fine restaurant, I'm sure that he would greet them respectfully; if he were to spot them coming out of a brothel, he would probably look the other way. :biggrin:
Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Who are the reviewers?

I'm pretty sure I was one of them this year. A long time ago I got an email from some food-world big-shot asking me to vote in the S. Pellegrino awards thing. I didn't even realize that was the same thing as the old Restaurant Magazine awards. I guess it got rebranded at some point? Anyway, I was assigned to a region, in my case something like "US: East." I then went to a web interface where I was able to select the 5 best meals I'd had in the past 18 months, 3 from my region and 2 from outside my region. This are the instructions I was given, if you're curious:

The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, first published in 2002 and now in its eighth year, has become an eagerly anticipated, internationally influential indicator of the best places to eat on earth. The list is compiled by collating the votes cast by The Nespresso World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy.

The Nespresso World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy has been created by dividing the world into regions with a chairperson in each region selected for their knowledge of their part of the restaurant world, as well as knowing the right people to ask to vote, ie you. Thank you for casting your vote.

Voting is simple, please click below to cast your vote. We ask you to vote for your five best restaurants in order of preference for The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list 2009.

We do have a few rules please take a read before you proceed. Votes that do not adhere to these rules cannot be submitted, and you will be asked to vote again.

Voting rules- The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list:

    * Panellists must vote for 5 restaurants, no more and no less than 5 restaurants.

    * Panellists may only vote for up to 3 restaurants within their own region. The remaining 2 votes must be for restaurants located outside the panellists region (you will be reminded of your region and the countries that includes when you proceed to vote). Please note it is not obligatory to vote for any restaurants in your own region if you wish not to.

    * Panellists must vote for their chosen restaurants in preferential order.

    * You may only nominate a restaurant once.

    * Panellists, where they work for / own restaurants cannot vote for their own restaurant's.

    * Votes must be cast for the Restaurant not for the Restaurateur or the chef.

    * Panellists must have eaten in the restaurants they are nominating in the past 18 months. (Please note- You will be asked to give the month of your visit).

Please also note:

    * All votes are confidential and will not be disclosed or published without voter's written consent.

    * The results will not be disclosed until the awards event - April 20, 2009

To view past 50 Best lists click here

Click here to vote for your 5 Best Restaurants 2009

I think its important to note, and I've said this before in previous years. You aren't asked to vote on your best meal at all. Re read it. You are asked to vote on the "best restaurant". This could encompass a whole load of different criteria including food, service, ambience, decor etc. etc. Surely this is how we end up with such an eclectic and diverse list?


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I think what's interesting about a list like this is that it exposes non-foodies to names they wouldn't otherwise hear. I had never heard of el Bulli until the list got quite a lot of mainstream media attention a few years ago. Ditto French Laundry and many others. Even people who have very little interest in food for 364 days of the year have mentioned this list to me. In those early years it certainly helped to open my eyes to the diversity of restaurants on the planet, it led me in a roundabout way to eGullet, and it helped to foster in me a still-growing appreciation of fine dining.

Certainly for those in the business of ticking boxes (and I'm occasionally guilty of this myself) the list takes on a significance all of its own. This is not always a good thing, obviously, as lots of good places aren't recognised on the list and lots of less worthy establishments are boosted by their inclusion. El Bulli is harder to get into than ever, and I firmly believe that its well-publicised "World's Best Restaurant" status is the major factor here. Whether that accolade is deserved or not is a separate issue (and for the record I think it probably is) but it's definitely going to have an effect outside our food-fanatical circles.

Simply put, this list matters. Irrespective of whatever misgivings any of us might have, and irrespective of the assurances that it's all just a bit of fun, it matters. For places like Alinea, which may be famous among certain circles but nothing resembling a well-known name in this part of the world, this is surely an important listing. I can well understand why Mr. Achatz would make the journey.

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I think its important to note, and I've said this before in previous years. You aren't asked to vote on your best meal at all. Re read it. You are asked to vote on the "best restaurant". This could encompass a whole load of different criteria including food, service, ambience, decor etc. etc.

That distinction doesn't make sense to me. The quality of a "meal" also includes "food, service, ambience, decor etc. etc." How do I determine "best restaurant" other than by asking where I've had my "best meals"? How do I designate something as "best restaurant" if I've had anything other than my "best meals" there?

On the general issue of the validity of the list, of course all such lists are flawed in various ways. This one, overall, is probably better than most. It relies on a relatively knowledgeable group of people, which is a better approach than Zagat's random selection. And the system of three restaurants in the region, two restaurants outside the region of each respondent provided a mathematically somewhat valid means of comparing across regions. This system doesn't require 8,000 people to dine at El Bulli. It requires a handful to eat there and rank El Bulli ahead of other restaurants. Then when all the numbers are crunched El Bulli comes out on top. Still, as with any group effort of this kind, the outcome represents a lowest common denominator for the group.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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On the basis that elBulli takes 50% of its' tables for diners who've eaten there previously, it's not preposterous to think that a significant number of those judges have managed to go on a semi-regular basis.

Surely the list, like the Michelin guide and every other list that's published, should be judged with a pinch of salt. It's entertaining. I think the main thing from it is noma's improvement in the rankings. Now it'll be bloody impossible to get a table there too......

Adam

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On the basis that elBulli takes 50% of its' tables for diners who've eaten there previously, it's not preposterous to think that a significant number of those judges have managed to go on a semi-regular basis.

Surely the list, like the Michelin guide and every other list that's published, should be judged with a pinch of salt. It's entertaining. I think the main thing from it is noma's improvement in the rankings. Now it'll be bloody impossible to get a table there too......

Adam

I quite agree.

I do take issue with the fact that some countries are miss-represented as I stated earlier in the thread, but I think that people worry far too much about the method of something which is clearly nothing more than a list of people's opinions.

The questions we always need to ask in such exercises involving rank-ordering are (1.) Is the exercise rigorous?; (2) Does it purport to measure the subject at hand (this is, after all, a quantitative exercise) with accuracy and validity? (3), Do the participants (all 800) report or judge on an equal basis and are they subjected to the same and entire phenomenon under analysis? (4) Do all the participants work from the same set of data? (5). Do the participants have full empirical knowledge of what it is they have been asked to judge? I strongly suspect the answer to all of these is no.

That the establishment at the top of the list (four years in a row, no less) is one that almost no restaurant goer can gain entry to, let alone 800 of them each-year, is the best indicator of how fraudulent and intellectually useless this “50 Best” exercise is. In reality, it is nothing more than a circle jerk comprised of people whose notion of “best” is limited to restaurants that innately provide the most fodder for the media mills and who desire to create an artificial buzz with an awards dinner thrown in.. I would even go so far to say that it is counter-productive to the notion of the acquisition of gastronomic connoisseurship. How many of these restaurants tie your hands at the moment of ordering, avoid the necessity of cooking whole smaller fish and animals, “mechanize” their kitchens and reduce numbers of staff, and all of whose cooking never transcends the restaurant and the chef’s ego themselves. . Ironically, Ferran Adria has just about christened a simple fish restaurant in his town (Resaurant Rafa in Rosas) as among his very favorite (if not his number one favorite). Yet, such restaurants i.e. those that offer uncomplicated, down-to-earth and time-tested preparations using products of such impeccable quality and pristineness that are rarely encountered in these “50 Greatest” establishments, despite the fact that any truly experienced and open-minded gastronome will count such restaurants as represented by seafood restaurants on the French and Italian coasts, lobster pounds in Maine, Piemontese restaurants offering truffles in the fall, and meals taken in some riyokan in Japan as being among his most memorable meals in a culinary life.

A list like this is always going to be completely subjective. We can't fairly compare the fat duck to Ramsay at RHR, there are far too many factors which blow objectivity out of the window. We only have our memories of the experience and a few notes to compare against, and no matter what you do it's never going to be "fair". You might be able to improve the method of the whole excercise somewhat, but at the end of the day it's still just going to be a list.

With regards to the uncomplicated vs. complicated, for starters there's St. John right up there, and I'd imagine there's some others in there that are fairly represented too.

Personally I'll just take this list on board as I do michelin, AA, Zagat and all the others - I'll use it as a rough guide to chosing restaurants to visit, but it certainly won't be gospel. Some might seek to dine in every restaurant on the list over the course of the year, others might just try and do the top 10 - good luck to them I say, because getting into a handful of them a year is enough for me!

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I would like to draw the forum's attention to one aspect that seems to be overlooked so far. My suspicion is that implicitly the Restaurant Magazine's list wants to be some kind of alternative draft to the Michelin 3 star system.

Currently I believe there are 72 three-star restaurants around the globe. Although some of them are better than others, and some of them perhaps no longer deserve this title, overall they seem to be a far more reliable selection than the 50-list, at least based on my experience.

I know one can be critical of Ramsay and his business empire but compared to St John, Nobu and Hakkasan, Royal Hospital Road is clearly the better restaurant.

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May I ask how many judges participate, and where they are from (or where they reside)

Asia is sorely underrepresented, and I'm inclined to think it's because most of the judges aren't from Asia or even of Asian ethnicities (but I won't even make accusations of racism, which others seem to do so easily).

Anyone got an answer to my question? Surely those of you who were on the voting panel must have some idea. Or would the answer merely support my assumption that the sole reason so few restaurants in Asia are on the list is because there are so few reviewers in Asia and so few of the reviewers actually visit Asia?

Let's look at the reviewers who participate on eG, and just for the sake of argument, I'd like to include Lesley C although she no longer takes part in the judging.

aprilmei

Fat Guy

Alex Forbes

Lesley C

In the 18 months prior to the vote (or the last time you voted, in the case of Lesley C), how many Asian countries had you visited? IIRC, aprilmei lives in HK, but did you visit any other Asian countries? If so, which ones?

How many African countries had each of you visited? African countries are also very much underrepresented on that list.

How many European countries had you visited, and which ones?

How many North American countries had you visited, and which ones?

South American countries?

Just wondering. . .

ETA, I just noticed Alex Forbes had already answered the question about which countries she visited.


Edited by prasantrin (log)

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How do chefs view this? Well, if they didn't care, then surely Grant Achatz wouldn't have left his rest. at 3 am to get on a flight a few hours later for London. Ferran went. Arzak went. Alex Atala went. Heck, THEY ALL WENT. The big shots, I mean.

How many awards things do these guys attend? Few. Especially the very hard-working, non-imperialistic chefs like Achatz.

so it's easy to say the list is bs. But I really think the chefs disagree.

they care A LOT.

Who paid for their tickets (and hotels), and do their restaurants serve S. Pellegrino products?

And for that matter, are voters directed only to vote for meals that are not comped? It seems to me the Steirereck placement would be quite unfair if most of their votes came as a result of their wining and dining of chefs and food journos, as you somewhat implied earlier. (FWIW, I've been to Steirereck and I enjoyed my meal there very much.)


Edited by prasantrin (log)

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In the 18 months prior to the vote (or the last time you voted, in the case of Lesley C), how many Asian countries had you visited? 

None. I'm a judge/respondent/whatever for the US:East region. The point is that I'm supposed to have dined well within that region. They also ask me to include two restaurants from outside my region -- this helps establish some basis for comparison, as a statistical matter. But to say the respondents for region X haven't been to region Y is beside the point.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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May I ask how many judges participate, and where they are from (or where they reside)

Anyone got an answer to my question? Surely those of you who were on the voting panel must have some idea.

It's not really a "panel." They just send out survey invitations to a whole lot of people -- how they're chosen I have no idea, maybe one of the press releases says how -- and those people log on to a web interface where they complete a survey in about 10 minutes. Those of us who do it aren't given a ton of information. I think I've pasted, above, all the information I was given.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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