This year’s award ceremony took place on the 19th of June in Bilbao, Spain. While the two top spots, in my opinion, were predictable, there were some real surprises down the list of 50, and even more in 51-100.
So, who gets to decide what restaurant goes into which spot? And what exactly does it mean “the best”? Not to dwell too much on the voting process, especially since my insights are gained from the pages of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, I will summarise the key points. You can find out more directly on their website.
There are 26 regions in total, each with 40 voters. Each voter picks 10 restaurants, in their order of preference, with at least 4 of those located outside of their region. They must have eaten in the restaurants they rank in the last 18 months. And obviously, there cannot be any conflict of interest, financially or otherwise.
Since there are no set criteria that the restaurant must meet (unlike with Michelin), it is really all down to the quality of cooking and the tastes and motivations of those who are lucky enough to participate in the voting process.
Here’s where I think the process is a bit skewed. Say, I am the academy member based in Austria, Switzerland, Hungary & Slovenia. I would probably want to make sure that the restaurants from the region are reasonably represented and as high up in the list as possible. Probably a much simpler task here than if you happen to be in the Spain & Portugal region. Here you have 13 entrants in Top 100 versus 3 from the other four countries. And just like that, the likes of Enigma, which in my view is far superior in quality, creativity and ambience to Steirereck (no offence), ends up in the bottom of the list. Sad.
Now that I got that out of my system, there were some positives this year too. White Rabbit jumped from 23rd to the 15th place. Good news for the Brits too: there are 7 UK restaurants on the Top 100 list this year. Here they are:
- The Clove Club (#33)
- Lyle’s (#38)
- The Ledbury (#42)
- Dinner (#45)
- The Fat Duck (#74)
- Hedone (#82)
- St John (#84).
There is also the highest new entry, Disfrutar at number 18. It looks like our trips to Barcelona will need to be extended yet again.