Tuesday, 7 May 2013

World's 50 Best 2013 - Style over Substance?

As with any restaurant list, the World’s 50 Best has its fair share of critics but aside from the Michelin results, it is one of our industry’s most eagerly anticipated awards.

Unfortunately, this year I found the list slightly surreal. Whilst I believe that El Cellar Can Roca is a worthy title holder which has rightfully earned its place, there are many others which seem to have come from nowhere. 

As a chef, proud to have spent years training in some of the UK’s top kitchens I actually find it quite insulting that the likes of Restaurant Sat Bains, The Square, Hibiscus and L’Enclume don’t make the list. 

In my book, the powerhouse of great cuisine has always been Europe. It concerns me that in a bid to open up in new markets, The World’s 50 Best list is neglecting our culinary heritage which was about provenance, quality and skill rather than wizardry, strangely named dishes and surprise. 

I don’t doubt that there are fabulous restaurants in Brazil, Mexico and China but I’d like to know which criteria are used for restaurants in these countries to earn a place on the list.  As emerging markets, their culinary culture is less well known and as such is likely to have the ‘excitement’ factor.  However, it isn’t realistic to expect Restaurant Magazine readers to travel to Brazil just to dine at the sixth best restaurant in the world. 

I’m lucky to have dined in top restaurants in many countries but one of the most  memorable meals I’ve enjoyed recently was at L’Enclume. Quite frankly I’m stunned that it doesn’t get a mention. Does the fact that one of our most impressive, innovative restaurants isn’t considered worthy of the list mean that the UK is once again falling behind?  Or is Cumbria not exotic enough a destination for the judges?

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