DO NOT try to tell Joe Warwick that his new baby, The World Restaurant Awards (WRAs), which he co-founded with legendary Franco-Italian writer Andrea Petrini, is a list.
“It is not a list,“ insists Warwick, a veteran in the world of restaurant catalogues (he was one of the British journalists who in 2002 launched The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for Restaurant Magazine).
The new WRAs by contrast are not meant to determine who’s best, or to rank tables. The idea is to be more like a screenshot of what a panel of chefs, reporters and food-related professionals around the world (including me) want to highlight in the restaurant world in a given year.
That could be a restaurant with a particularly good atmosphere, or one that’s especially interesting considering no reservations can be made, or an off-the-beat- en-track spot that’s worth the trek. There is no hierarchy within the categories.
This new directory was made public in Paris in February, at an event hosted by a popular French TV presenter and inspired by movie and music award galas.
Among the 18 categories, some were serious—such as Restaurant of the Year, an honour taken by Wolfgat in South Africa. Others were more playful, like Tattoo-Free Chef of the Year, which went to French-born but Monaco-based Alain Ducasse. The idea behind the IMG-funded project is to bring more diversity to the conversation about interesting establishments, fancy and casual, near and far, that exist across the world.
— MARIE-CLAUDE LORTIE