It never stops. The tremors generated by the sacred and the dismissals of the Michelin Guide in 2019, barely dimmed, the planet’s “food” continues to run at full speed… and especially on herself. It is the very media ” show cooking “Top Chef,” of which the tenth edition, sold by M6 as one of excellence, has just started on the chain and moved the Wednesday in prime time. Or the sixth season of the documentary series Netflix Chef’s Table, which is announced on the 22nd February, with a lot of portraits of chefs from around the world, also formidably products that gently hagiographic.

“We want to make it a cultural appointment, a celebration, something glamorous with a real show”

Cecile Rebbot, director of the event

It is also, to 2019, yet another burst of rankings and lists of all kinds. With the entrance in the dance of the last-born: the World Restaurant Awards. Small but strong, because this top of the world is organized by IMG, the multinational company operating in more than thirty countries in the fields of sport and event management industry in particular. Monday, February 18, the district of Bourse in Paris will become the time of evening, the epicenter of this “foodosphère” rough. And the Palais Brongniart will be its most beautiful finery for a ceremony with great pomp, hosted by Antoine de Caunes. In terms of communication, we look at clearly on the side of the cinema and the choice of the presenter, several times Monsieur Loyal of Caesar on Canal +, of course, is not trivial. “We want to make it a cultural appointment, a celebration, something glamorous with a real show,” says Cecile Rebbot, director of the event.

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both journalists, writers and figures of the world recognized gastronomy, Joe Warwick, creative director, and Andrea Petrini, chairman of the jury, have devised a series of rewards, which has the merit of out of the ordinary. Among the eighteen projected price, in addition to a few must-sees such as the opening of the year, some play the blink of an untrained eye. The category of “timeless classic” will honor a legendary establishment open for over fifty years. Among the five named, the iconic restaurant fire Paul Bocuse in Lyon and… an authentic steakhouse in Brooklyn, Peter Luger. The French Alain Ducasse, the English Clare Smyth and the Australian David Thompson is fighting them, the title of “best chef non-tattooed”, a roundabout way to reward those chefs who do not follow the modes.

• Back to the future

But behind this undeniable wind of freshness, the new event is already grinding a few teeth. Is accused Joe Warwick, and Andrea Petrini, two alumni of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, ranking of the top 50 restaurants in the world sponsored by the brand San Pellegrino, replace the cover with a certain cynicism. “I have nothing more to do with the 50 Best since 2007,” said Joe Warwick. We are not in competition with them. And we’re trying to do something different.” “In the beginning, there was a spontaneous side, adds Andrea Petrini. But over the years, the 50 Best has become more structured and, today, it is a machine of war-promotional, even if it has positive sides.” The fact remains that the World Restaurant Awards are also, in large part, thanks to the sponsorship of private businesses, but also tourist offices, such as the Singapore Tourism Board, this year. “They promote their destination through our event, I see no problem,” replied Warwick. They will make demonstrations of leaders to show that the country is worth gastronomically, which is the case. […] And if, in the future, the leaders of Singapore are rewarded, this is because our panel of voters (50 men and 50 women, journalists, gastronomic influencers and professionals of the catering, editor’s NOTE) will be considered a good idea. It’s as simple as that.”

• * * * All roads lead to Singapore

where the story gets tasty is that the editing 2019 of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants will rightly place, on the 25th of June… in Singapore. Its director, Helen Pietrini, who has taken the reins in 2016, recognises the importance of partnerships with the departments and offices of tourism in its business model. But the notion that these regions would then be promoted to the ranking: “It is a guarantee of visibility, exposure to the media, not all of the result.” How to judge the arrival of a new competitor? “When the World Restaurant Awards have announced their project by saying that their event would solve all the problems of our own, we thought that it was wrong. […] But I look at it with interest and curiosity,” adds she.

This year, the organization will also innovate out of the rankings all the restaurants already sacred number a in the past

to critics, the 50 Best has created a great deal in recent years. Its economic model, but also on the opacity of its voting system, the identity of the 1040 its panel members, spread across the world, being for example held secret. To consolidate its legitimacy, the classification, which belongs to the English group William Reed Business Media, is to audit the votes by the firm Deloitte, from 2016. “We also do controls, random and targeted,” explains Helen Pietrini. That is to say that we can ask some voters to prove to us that they went well in the restaurants for which they voted: more specific comments, pictures…” Why don’t we always ask for an addition? “That would be impossible, she answers. It happens that journalists or chefs to do the inviting, and it is not going to come out of the panel for that. We are not the irs!”

This year, the organization will also innovate out of the rankings all the restaurants already sacred number one in the past. It is the case of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona (Spain), Eleven Madison Park in New York city (United States) and the Osteria Francescana in Modena (Italy), who have trusté the first place five times in the last six editions. Only Noma in Copenhagen (Denmark), the media manager dane René Redzepi, can qualify to win again since its various coronations (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014), the restaurant has moved and totally changed the formula. What to make a certain renewal.

• Gastronomy arithmetic

Not enough to silence critics, especially among competitors, such as Philippe Faure, former ambassador and president and founder of The List, classement 1000 restaurants launched in 2016. “Person seriously can not think of the World Restaurant Awards have a connection with reality. This is totally bogus, like the 50 Best. I have nothing against, but it is advertising in disguise”. Their model is based on panels of voters, The List opposed to a scientific system, built on aggregation of ratings of more than 600 food guides, specialist journals and other sites. Unveiled on 3 December last, The List in 2019, saw two French chefs finish first ex aequo: Guy Savoy, installed in Paris, and Eric Ripert, a party in the United States in the late 1980s and today, chef of le Bernardin in Manhattan, also three stars. What revive the doubts, and here and there about the impartiality of this new classification, Philippe Faure is actively engaged in the promotion of tourism habs abroad as president of the GIE Atout France, a position he will leave in April next year. Reservations strongly contested by the interested party: “We are totally independent of the Quai d’orsay. It has nothing to do, nor with Atout France. There is not a penny of public money in our funding.”

• Quest for meaning

many other rankings have been launched in recent years, as The 100 heads, initiated by the trade magazine The Head , in 2015, which compiles the votes of the hats two and three Michelin stars of the countries where the guide is present. Or the lists of the american site Opinionated About Dining, aggregating the opinions of 6200 contributors from all over the world, of which about 500 are considered active by the initiator, Steven Plotnicki. Or even the top 10 best gourmet restaurants in the world published by the Internet giant TripAdvisor from the voting of its users, and who has devoted, in December last year, the restaurant Au Crocodile in Strasbourg. A surfeit of information which may deface the message. And the fact of closing planétairement addresses of exception does it make sense? Not obvious. “I am extremely pleased to be ranked among the best restaurants in the world,” says Mauro Colagreco, restaurant Mirazur in Menton, the third in the latest rankings of the 50 Best. But I don’t know what the exact reality that corresponds to it. […] The game works and obviously the public likes it. But compare the cooking of geniuses such as Alain Passard and Pierre Gagnaire, and say which one is the best, I find it a bit subjective,” says the one who also comes to get his third star.

Economically, the rankings have an impact for the chiefs. “We had a lot of bookings in the week that followed the announcement of the 50 Best in 2018, abounds Mauro Colagreco, about 15 % more, and it has continued in the year.” For Yannick Alleno, three-star hotel in Paris and Courchevel, the ranking of the 50 Best is also used to calibrate the references to its international clientele, particularly in Asia or the Middle East. “With the Michelin, they are the two rankings that we are coming to the world,” he says. Precisely, what about the guides, this increased competition rankings? “It is a competition of communication but not of business, writes Jacques Bally, the new boss of the Gault & Millau. We do a thorough job. Our role is not to be a travel agency, communication or promotion.” As for the Michelin Guide, our interview requests on the subject remained unanswered.

By the numbers

270€: price of the tasting menu in the twelve services of the Osteria Francescana of Massimo Bottura, the first of the last ranking of the 50 Best.

3000 meters: altitude restaurant Mil Centro Virgilio Martinez (Peru), nominated in the category of “Destination” Off-Map”, places off the beaten path of the World Restaurant Awards.

16.000: Number of institutions identified in The List. The first 1000 are the classification and are included in the category “gold”. The others are also referenced in the application digital.


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