BANGKOK – Revolutionary new rules that some consider controversial mean an Asian or Latin American restaurant could be crowned as the winner of the influential “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” 2019 ranking at a ceremony in Singapore.
“Gaggan” of Bangkok, run by Indian chef Gaggan Anand, named best Asian restaurant three years running, and “Central” in Lima, lead by Peruvian Virgilio Martinez, are among the favorites to grab the top culinary prize.
The gala, due to take place Tuesday, brings together the best chefs in the world for the first time in Asia for its 18th edition after the awards began a world tour when they left London for New York in 2016, Melbourne in 2017 and Bilbao last year.
British magazine “Restaurant” has organized the list since 2002 and this year decided to change the rules with a provocative new policy: that no restaurant that has previously won the competition can be named the best again.
This rules out last year’s winner, Italian chef Massimo Bottura’s “Osteria Franciscana,” the Spanish “El Celler de Can Roca” – winner in 2013 and 2015 and second last year – and the New York-based “Eleven Madison Park,” which won in 2017 and came fourth in 2018.
“Central,” which in 2017 reached the sixth place, and chef Mitsuharu Tsumura’s “Lima Maido,” which finished seventh, both stand a good chance of making history in a competition that is yet to award a Latin American or Asian restaurant the top spot.
The prestigious and influential list, which is chosen by the votes of 1,040 critics, chefs and experts from around the world, has been accused on many occasions of being Eurocentrist, so in recent editions, the votes of other regions were added to reinforce the nominations and in 2013 special lists were launched for Latin America and Asia.
Since then, the restaurants of these two continents, especially Latin American ones, have gained a starring role in the ranking.
The playful alchemy of “Gaggan,” Asia’s best restaurant in the regional list on four occasions, managed to position itself in 2018 fifth place globally and this year could climb to the top.
The Indian chef based in Bangkok is a disciple of the renowned Catalan culinary creator Ferran Adria and says that his goal has always been to do with the cuisine of his country what Adria’s El Bulli did with Spanish gastronomy: to raise it to another level.
In the months prior to Tuesday’s ceremony, some of the awards for this year’s edition have already been announced, including the Miele One to Watch Award 2019 which went to the Italian Lido 84, run by the brothers Riccardo and Giancarlo Camanini.
The prize for the World’s Best Female Chef this year went to Mexican Daniela Soto-Imes, from Cosme in New York, while the Spanish chef Jose Andres has been recognized for his career with the American Express Icon Award.
Restaurant magazine has divided the world into 26 regions and in each of them has selected a jury panel of 40 people, each of which issues 10 votes, four of them to restaurants outside their own region and that they have visited in the last 18 months.