The world's top chefs and restaurateurs gathered in Singapore today for the reveal of the World's 50 Best Restaurants List 2019. Celebrating its 18th year, the awards were always going to be a particularly interesting watch this year given two big changes to the voting system.
To start with they'd made an effort to ensure the voting panel was gender balanced to promote inclusivity. But the biggest change was right at the top. All of the restaurants that had previously secured the coveted top spot on the list have been moved into a Best of the Best category and were no longer eligible for the main list. That freed up a lot of space at the top of the list, allowing for plenty of high new entries.
Of course, there can be only one winner, and this year the No 1 position went to Mirazur in France. Chef Mauro Colagreco summed up one of the recurring themes of the night when he touched on his position as an immigrant. "Today we're celebrating France and its values which we all share, liberty, egality and fraternity...[France] has allowed me to express myself and it's the country where both my children were born."
But he also touched upon his roots in Argentina and Brazil where he met his wife Julia and on Italy, where half his team come from. He ended by saying "We need to love one another and share and go further than borders and barriers."
That sentiment was echoed by chef Daniela Sotto-Innes who not only picked up a gong for World's Best Female Chef, but who also saw her restaurant Cosme in New York on the list at No 23. "As a Mexican woman leading a diverse team," she told the crowd, "I believe with every day and every meal and every guest we can fight against the ignorance and prejudice which tells us that our voices are not heard, that our happiness and dreams do not matter." She also made a point of saying that, "The most important thing is always to have joy in the kitchen."
For London, there was good news for both Lyle's and The Clove Club. The former moved from 38 to 33 on the list, while The Clove Club edged even closer to the top quarter of the list, moving from 33 last year to 27 this year. It does mean that they were the only UK restaurants in the top 50 - and they're both in Shoreditch too.
If you're looking for a restaurant to try this year before it hits the real heights of the list and becomes impossible to book, then try the recipient of this year's One to Watch Award which was Lido 84 on the Gardone Riviera in Italy and currently 78 on the long list. The menu there is currently 80 euros which seems like a relative bargain compared to others.
One of the most popular awards of the night was the America Express Icon Award which was presented to chef José Andrés who has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Andres said the award wasn't just for him for the 60,000 volunteers he encountered whilst working in Haiti. "every single day they do their best to create a better world."
He also paid tribute to his great friend Anthony Bourdain who, he said, "showed we shouldn't be afraid of those who are not like us, whether that's the same religion or colour of the skin - we believe the world can be a great place again, sharing one plate of food at a time."
No, we're fine, we've just got something in our eye...
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