Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
AlexForbes

World's 50 best restaurants list

Recommended Posts

None. That's why I declined to judge. Anyway, the last restaurant I dined at outside my city was L'Astrance, which I found WAY overrated. I would have never voted for it anyway, and there it is at #11.

These lists are impossible to get right. Ultimately they serve as great PR for San Pellegrino and Restaurant Magazine, and give already acclaimed restaurants new bragging rights.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

But I assume you did dine in the two you voted for outside your region?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But I assume you did dine in the two you voted for outside your region?

Of course. Had I not dined in several great restaurants outside my region in the past 18 months I'd have declined to participate. But since I had been to Alinea and a bunch of other terrific places during those 18 months I was fine with doing it. It only took 10 minutes and was no skin off my back.


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)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

I've posted about how the voting process has changed over the years on past threads - I was asked to be on the panel from the first year they opened it up to voters from Asia (FWIW, I'm Chinese American). At the time, it was called the "Far East" panel (I guess that means I'm an "oriental"). When the results came out, I found out the the Far East panel consisted of ALL of Asia - Hong Kong, China, Macau, Japan, Korea (north and south), Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia... I can't remember all the countries. There were 30 panelists to cover all of Asia - and at the time, we could pick two restaurants within our region and the other votes were for outside the region. France was its own region - with 30 panellists. Italy was its own region - with 30 panellists. Spain and Portugal were a region - with 30 panellists. And ALL OF ASIA was a region - with 30 panellists. It was completely stupid.

The second year, I was asked to be on the panel again and I said no, that it was outrageous that there were only 30 panellists to cover all of Asia. But I was told that it's now been divided into separate regions: Hong Kong/China/Macau, Japan/Korea, Malaysia/Indonesia/Singapore. So I said yes, and have continued to vote in the past several polls.

As for travelling, of course I travel within Asia. In the past 18 months I've been to China, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam (probably more but that's all I can think of now) - but I haven't been to Japan lately. I've also been to Spain, France, Australia and the UK (Scotland and England).

The voting has changed so we're now voting for three restaurants within our region. When I travel within Asia, I tend to go to very local, very inexpensive places - I deliberately seek those out because I love the food. I don't want to eat French food when I'm in Malaysia, I want to eat Malaysian food. But would I vote for one of those restaurant for the "best of" list? no. The exception to that is when I'm in Japan - then I do seek out the higher-end Japanese places but also eat at cheaper places. But like I said, I haven't been to Japan within the past 18 months so I can't vote for any restaurant from there.

When I travel in Europe, I seek out a mix - simple, everyday food and high-end (including Michelin-starred places). But I don't always go to the same restaurants - of the Michelin-starred places I've been to, I've only eaten at two (El Bulli and Cellar de Can Roca) more than once.


Edited by aprilmei (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How many African countries had each of you visited? African countries are also very much underrepresented on that list.

Having spent time over the last five years trying and failing to find a good meal in a restaurant in Ghana, can't say I'm surprised. Home cooking is great, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No one here has mentioned the OAD list (Troisgros #1 from what I remember) as a point of contrast with this one as it's composed using "experienced" diners' surveys and not critics'. As opposed to debating the relative merits of the list, which we all seem to agree are limited, is there anything we can learn by looking at the differences between the critics list, the diners list, and Michelin (probably the most objective standard)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

At the risk of reviving this thread (pleasingly short this year). My best meals are certainly not all at my favourite or "best" restaurants (although there is some correlation).

e.g. I had a fantastic lunch at Louis XV a couple of years ago, fabulous food. Is it my "best restaurant"? No, is it my "best meal"? Well it might be somewhere near the top. Conversely, my best restaurant might be somewhere like the River Cafe (I'll avoid saying Arbutus for obvious reasons :laugh: ) where the friendly service, nice ambience and decent food always come together for me to make it a fantastic restaurant. While the food is decent it is no way comparable to my best meals. To me Best restaurant does not mean best meal. It's not just about the food.


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're saying best meal is only about food. I'm saying that, for me, best meal includes decor, service and all the other considerations you're saying it doesn't include. Therefore, for me, there is no difference between best meal and best restaurant.


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)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, I get what your saying, hwoever, I think most people though correlate it with best food, hence peoples bemusement at places like St John getting onto the list.


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are also plenty of people who will take the position that food is the only consideration when judging a restaurant, or is the 99% consideration. This is, for example, why the New York Times has awarded three stars (out of four) to several limited-service, limited-decor restaurants. For those people, best meal (defined, incorrectly I think, as best food) and best restaurant are also synonymous.


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)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You're saying best meal is only about food. I'm saying that, for me, best meal includes decor, service and all the other considerations you're saying it doesn't include. Therefore, for me, there is no difference between best meal and best restaurant.

Ohhh... After the first two years it's quite nice to feel neutral and removed as regards the annual 50 Best debate (which as noted is pleasingly muted this year).

But much as I promised not to get sucked in I must just put my two-pennoth in here. I think the debate above is one of terminology - best meal/restaurant/food.

I agree that the first two are inextricably linked - they involve the food, service, ambience, the whole package. I would argue though that best "meal" is a more personal experience than best "restaurant" as my best meal would also be linked to my mood at the time, the company, whether I was tired as the kids had kept me up the night before etc etc. Put simply if I had an argument with my girlfriend during dinner it wouldn't be my best meal, though I may still rate it my best restaurant (based on the evidence of said dinner or especially based on multiple dining there).

Food is slightly simpler. We all know what good food means (though even there some people will argue their way along the sliding scale of simple/authentic to refined/sophisticated). As clearly stated ad infinitum these awards, whatever their strengths and weaknesses, are about restaurants NOT just food. If there were, hypothetically, only two restaurants in the world and these were rated on an equally hypothetically infallible scoring system with the Restaurant A scoring a 9, a 10 and and a 10 (out of ten) for food service and atmosphere and Restaurant B scoring a respective 10, 1 and 1 then which is the best "restaurant" in the world?

Not the one with the "best" food. A contrived and extreme example but just trying to make the point clear (such as it is and such as I see it).

Oh, and the whole "how do you compare such different offerings" thing? This question is the bane of awards organisers lives, but strangely enough you often hear it from judges at the start of the process but seldom at the end.

You will never truly be comparing like with like in any awards - if you look in enough detail. I know people who will complain about judging a pub award ("How do you compare a big-chef dining pub with a community local?") but then think how hard it is judging a Best Hospitality Business award that cuts across pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels? Or a Best small business award that includes all of the above plus shops, gyms, printers, undertakers, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers? How about International awards that compared all those and more everywhere from downtown Kyoto to Stoke?

Again I'm picking extreme and hypothetical situations but I believe the underlying point is true. People who know enough about a given business or a given industry will always argue that a group of entries to be judged is difficult to compare and could be further sub-split (and split, and split, and split). In theory the more defined categories the better but ultimately this is self-limiting due to the number of entries per category, the amount of effort needed in terms of administrating the awards and the judging process, and the number of available category sponsors to foot the bill!

I would also say that I have been involved in judging on a lot of different hospitality awards, and what I always find is that in spite of strong personalities and differences of opinions amongst the judges you nearly always come out feeling confident and happy that "you picked the right winner". When you start or from the outside it often seems like a set of entries is wildly contrasting and differing and it's impossible to get your head around them, but ultimately when you drill down and focus on the criteria and the specifics of each then one (or maybe a couple) tend to stand out as excelling within their field, head and shoulders above the rest.

It is pretty easy to judge differing types of entries. After all people generally manage to pick a best film at the Oscars every year (documentary weepie, animation, action?), a car of the year (luxury supercar, middle-ranking saloon, tiny little run-around) as well as selecting single over-all winners in wildly disparate fields such as art, poetry, literature which are at least as subjective as restaurants.

No awards or system of judging in a non-empirical field is going to be "perfect", and as such the results will always create debate and argument. I can accept awards methodology or structure not being perfect, as long as said awards offer a sensible and logical structure to the judging and are always striving to improve and evolve.

Whether 50 Best are doing so? That's a question back to the floor, and let's face it, that's all part of the fun.

Cheers

Thom


Edited by thom (log)

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I would argue though that best "meal" is a more personal experience than best "restaurant" as my best meal would also be linked to my mood at the time, the company, whether I was tired as the kids had kept me up the night before etc etc. Put simply if I had an argument with my girlfriend during dinner it wouldn't be my best meal, though I may still rate it my best restaurant (based on the evidence of said dinner or especially based on multiple dining there).

My assumption is that the survey participants, who have been chosen for some degree of sophistication about restaurants, are able to separate the two and would not reduce a restaurant's ranking on account of personal troubles during a meal. That would be the case, for me at least, whether the question had been phrased in terms of "restaurant" or of "meal." In addition, the distinction between "meal" and "restaurant" is mostly going to be relevant when you've been to a restaurant 20 times and have one bad meal experience. But when we're talking about places like Alinea and El Bulli, chances are most people ranking these places have been there a maximum of once in the relevant time period. So in those cases there is complete or near-complete convergence between "restaurant" and "meal." In any event, there is no evidence that would lead me to believe that any of the weirdness in outcomes of this survey process have to do with widespread misunderstanding of whether the question is "restaurant" or "meal." At least for me, the answers, especially in this context, would be the same.


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)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My assumption is that the survey participants, who have been chosen for some degree of sophistication about restaurants, are able to separate the two and would not reduce a restaurant's ranking on account of personal troubles during a meal. That would be the case, for me at least, whether the question had been phrased in terms of "restaurant" or of "meal." In addition, the distinction between "meal" and "restaurant" is mostly going to be relevant when you've been to a restaurant 20 times and have one bad meal experience. But when we're talking about places like Alinea and El Bulli, chances are most people ranking these places have been there a maximum of once in the relevant time period. So in those cases there is complete or near-complete convergence between "restaurant" and "meal." In any event, there is no evidence that would lead me to believe that any of the weirdness in outcomes of this survey process have to do with widespread misunderstanding of whether the question is "restaurant" or "meal." At least for me, the answers, especially in this context, would be the same.

A valid response to a small point. The more significant confusion I see on here (commented on up thread) and elsewhere is whether awards, such as these, are truly judging best "food" or best "restaurant".

My intended focus probably doesn't come through too well in my post but that'll teach me to try and jam too many peripheral points in as the mood takes me. I shall stick to the core issues and do a proper final edit pre-posting in future!

But hey-ho, it couldn't be helped. It's a Friday, I've eaten too many honey-buns and I've gone a bit pre-show giddy.

Cheers

Thom


Edited by thom (log)

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all let me clarify: I went to Steirereck recently because I happened to be in Vienna for the Relais & chateaux meeting - same for many other judges - but I WAS NOT wined or dined or comped.

Secondly, no I have not been to Asia - but that's why I am not on the Asia panel! I am Brazilian, and I am on the South American panel. Trust me, there is no lack of judges who travel extensively to Asia in the 50 best Academy, including many who live in Asia - but I sure ain't one of them.

And now, on a lighter note, who ever knew Jay Rayner was so funny and young and tall and looked so much like Marco Pierre White? I sure didn't! I had imagined a much older guy with a pot belly, but alas, I was wrong! :)

There is an excellent video of him at the 50 best restaurants awards ceremony here. The video really give s an insider's look at the whole thing.


Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

Official Website

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can see now that the distribution of names on the list (indeed the entire exercise itself) is predicated on the vagaries of each participant’s restaurant-going for the past 12 months( or is it really 18 months?). It is at its core a random walk through Gastroplanet that has no rhyme, reason or rigor. Rank-ordering or codifying restaurants of the world flys directly in the face of the axioms “There is no accounting for taste” or “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”. As I’ve stated before, each person needs to evolve into his own best gastronomic critic, and having mumbo-jumbo like this from so many people who are shilling, sucking up and on the take contributes nothing to this end.


Edited by robert brown (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know enough enough about all the restaurants referenced to answer this question, but would it be correct to say that Per Se is the top restaurant on the list that does not follow the style of food preparation commonly (desirably or not) described as "molecular gastronomy"? Or perhaps the top restaurant on the list whose Chef de Cuisine is philosophically opposed to the movement as a whole? In fact, would it be the only one in the entire top 10?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know enough enough about all the restaurants referenced to answer this question, but would it be correct to say that Per Se is the top restaurant on the list that does not follow the style of food preparation commonly (desirably or not) described as "molecular gastronomy"?  Or perhaps the top restaurant on the list whose Chef de Cuisine is philosophically opposed to the movement as a whole?  In fact, would it be the only one in the entire top 10?

You mean the chef who wrote a book on cooking sous vide, that modern, scientifically based cooking technique? :wink:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know enough enough about all the restaurants referenced to answer this question, but would it be correct to say that Per Se is the top restaurant on the list that does not follow the style of food preparation commonly (desirably or not) described as "molecular gastronomy"?  Or perhaps the top restaurant on the list whose Chef de Cuisine is philosophically opposed to the movement as a whole?  In fact, would it be the only one in the entire top 10?

You mean the chef who wrote a book on cooking sous vide, that modern, scientifically based cooking technique? :wink:

Ha - all kidding aside, sous vide is 30+ years old at the very least, not sure it has anything to do with "molecular gastronomy". They do use a lot of meat glue in that book though, I will give you that.

I was referring to this interview

There’s this whole molecular gastronomy movement. I object to the manipulation of food that’s been developing over the past couple of years. Even to take a carrot from the green market and juice it and then add chemicals to it to make beads or whatever—why use high-quality ingredients and corrupt them with chemistry?

I'm just surprised that 9/10 of the top restaurants in the world (still need confirmation on that fact) are now "molecular gastronomy" joints. Seems a big deal to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The top 50 list somehow translates ...

The world's best restaurant serving Chinese cuisine is in London (Hakkasan),

The world's best restaurant serving Japanese cuisine is in New York (Masa) - Narisawa's food tends to be French I think - previous years Nobu London serves the top Japanese food according to the guide

??? Unbelievable

Cannot help it :raz:


Edited by Bu Pun Su (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The top 50 list somehow translates ...

The world's best restaurant serving Chinese cuisine is in London (Hakkasan),

The world's best restaurant serving Japanese cuisine is in New York (Masa) - Narisawa's food tends to be French I think - previous years Nobu London serves the top Japanese food according to the guide

??? Unbelievable

Cannot help it  :raz:

...yes, what a joke...I have just got back from Tokyo, fantastic food and had absolutley no problem getting into top restaurants...Greatly impressed by the Japanese, their respect and courtesy both to each other and foreigners..

I can imagine a western food critic with there...'look-at-me-I'm-the-big-critic-man'

attitude would be not very well received and would have great difficulty in obtaining a table...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know enough enough about all the restaurants referenced to answer this question, but would it be correct to say that Per Se is the top restaurant on the list that does not follow the style of food preparation commonly (desirably or not) described as "molecular gastronomy"?  Or perhaps the top restaurant on the list whose Chef de Cuisine is philosophically opposed to the movement as a whole?  In fact, would it be the only one in the entire top 10?

You mean the chef who wrote a book on cooking sous vide, that modern, scientifically based cooking technique? :wink:

Ha - all kidding aside, sous vide is 30+ years old at the very least, not sure it has anything to do with "molecular gastronomy". They do use a lot of meat glue in that book though, I will give you that.

I was referring to this interview

There’s this whole molecular gastronomy movement. I object to the manipulation of food that’s been developing over the past couple of years. Even to take a carrot from the green market and juice it and then add chemicals to it to make beads or whatever—why use high-quality ingredients and corrupt them with chemistry?

I'm just surprised that 9/10 of the top restaurants in the world (still need confirmation on that fact) are now "molecular gastronomy" joints. Seems a big deal to me.

Thanks for following through on your statement. I'm not surprised about a statement like this coming from a Francophile chef, as they are, with a few exceptions, loathe to admit the usefulness of some of these techniques not developed by the French. I think the reason sous vide is so widely accepted by them is because it was developed by them. Using something like xantham gum is no different than using flour except that it allows the qualities of those pristine ingredients to shine through clearly - hardly a corruption. All cooking involves chemistry, which is why the term "molecular gastronomy" is in such disfavor by the very people who are supposed to be doing it. There is a reason why so many of the top-rated restaurants are of the same ilk. That is because when well used, these modern creative techniques are incredibly powerful tools and the best make incredible use of them. Like all such tools, however, they are only as good as the people using them and are subject to misuse and abuse.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.theworlds50best.com/awards/1-50-winners

Nice to see little Attica, the only one I've been to so far (altho' come twelve months from now and I'll have been to another half dozen, mind), jump a fair few spots (~20).


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...