The group that administers the awards collects millions of dollars annually in sponsorships from global food and drink brands including San Pellegrino and Veuve Clicquot, and from national governments including those of Peru and Singapore.
I always assumed The World’s 50 Best Restaurant was administered by San Pellegrino but it turns out it’s not. S.Pellegrino is just one of the biggest sponsors. The list is an independent organization that spun out from a magazine. From Eater:
In a 2002 edition of Restaurant Magazine; the guide is now run independently of that publication.
The 2015 list was announced on June 1st and it is bizarre at best.
I find it odd how France and Japan are largely dismissed. There are only two from Japan in the Top 50, one of which is Japanese-French in the Top 10 (Narisawa). Ryugin is #29 and thank goodness they included kaiseki Japanese haute-cuisine but everyone knows Kyoto has the best kaiseki. So weird.
I also find it strange this org takes sponsorship dollars from governments. Peru and Singapore are the only two listed by The Times but I wouldn’t be surprised if Thailand was also a sponsor, as there are several random restaurants from Bangkok. And as much as I adore London, I just don’t see how several UK establishments can top the list over gems in France and even Italy. That said, at least San Sebastián is highlighted?
It also looks as though the judges and voting process is arbitrary, which alongside the relaxed sponsorship funds makes this list an unreliable resource. Perhaps only fit for those refining their palates eating through Michelin guides just to boast. Not for me.
Conversely, I wish someone does an investigative piece on the sponsors. I’m so curious as to who the official sponsors are, how much they contributed and especially which governments are involved to cross check with the number of restaurants that appears on the list.
I googled but couldn’t find a list of the official sponsors so I did the next best thing: emailed.
Will keep you updated if I do hear back.