World’s 50 Best: Conclusion 

What a douchebag — who does this blogger guy think he is? The above photo was found on Christian Bau’s Facebook (thanks AJ, for sending!). Christian Bau is a Michelin three star chef and restaurant owner from Germany. Apparently some self important guy who writes a Metro blog sent a name dropping email with absurd requests. Good for Chef Bau for posting this to the public.

Separately, NYT’s Julia Moskin’s responded to my inquiry (see below image)

I still haven’t figured out how and why:

  • only chefs seem to place so much weight on it Ex: Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Massimo Bottura, Eric Ripert, René Redzepi, et al., inundated Instagram with photos from the venue. Joël Robuchon had an online meltdown and David Chang, who is present at almost all major food events was missing. (Momofuku Ko dropped from the top 50 in 2015 btw)
  • why weren’t food industry veterans and heavy weights like Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl, Alice Waters, Dana Cowin, Andrew Rapoport, Dorothy Cann Hamilton… even Tyler Brûlé who is based in London not present? And why don’t they talk about this list?
  • Paris and Tokyo that dominate Michelin are largely overlooked. There are 516 Michelin 1-3 star restaurants in Japan, 594 in France. Yet the list noticeably includes an imbalanced number of establishments from Spain and “partner countries”: Peru, Mexico, Singapore. I wonder if Thailand is a “partner country” along with some of the Nordic / Western European countries (Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium. Austria, etc.) are too (or lobbied by the sponsors, that are mainly European companies)

Why is it, that the only Japanese restaurant in the top 10 serves French food and the only kaiseki comes in at #29 — and located in Tokyo, when everyone who knows food, knows Kyoto is the king of kaiseki. There also isn’t a single restaurant from France in the top 10.

Along with the list’s obvious problems (arbitrary, subjective, etc., even a jury member of the list is quoted as saying so) it boggles the mind how they invite Internet famous bloggers and “foodies” with close to zero credibility except massive online audiences to participate in voting. Just that alone makes it so strange how this list is so credible.

But, for the life of me, I just cannot understand how this organization is able to receive sponsorship dollars from tourism budgets of random countries without disclosing to the public. How many partner countries are there and what are the exact dollar amounts they are receiving? Why don’t more people involved in the food industry openly question this or am I the only one wondering? Why do certain chefs empower this organization? How and why did this list get to be so powerful? How much advertising dollars are they spending to woo the masses? How much of the ad spend is carried by the sponsors and partner countries? What is the return on investments? Does tourism really increase because of this list? If so, what are the %s?

On and on the questions continue; everything about this list is weird.

Conclusion: to quote my friend AJ who sent the above image, “W50 List is just like F1. People pay to play.” …which makes this list another Yelp: silly and useless but there is a place in the world for it.


Update: 50 Best Restaurant List

The 50 Best Restaurant people got back to me — how kind. Points below ↓


Sadly, they did not disclose what I really want to know — who their government sponsors are. So I did the next, next best thing: email the author of the NYT piece:


I am unsure why government sponsorship bothers me this much but having spent time in extremely corrupt third world nations (mostly South East Asia) and exposed to some of the back channel workings of extremely corrupt governments in Africa. Add the FIFA bribery scandal, my trust in these organizations are extremely weary and frankly, a bit tired of being dicked around by people benefitting from the public who doesn’t know any better…

…aaaaand it’s official: I either have too much time on my hands or outright looney.

World’s 50 Best Restaurants

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.

via NYT

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.

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