A closely fought space and each award has their merits and shortcomings. There are three that rise above the rest: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the legendary Michelin guide and Elite Travellers best 100 restaurants.
Produced by British magazine Restaurant
The list is complied from votes from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy which comprises international chefs, restaurateurs, gourmands and restaurant critics. There is a genuine attempt to be global by dividing the world into 27 regions, with a chairperson in each region appointed for their knowledge of their part of the restaurant world.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy Global Selection is derived from the recommendations and experience of The Diners Club® World’s 50 Best Restaurant Academy and the Academy Chairs in consultation with the team at Restaurant magazine. It has a published manifesto.
As well as the definitive best 100 list it has a number of additional awards; Chef’s choice, Veuve Clicquot World’s best female chef, World’s best pastry chef, One to watch and the Diners club Lifetime achievement award.
The recent 2015 awards have been tainted with dissent, with an online petition
Elite Traveler magazine, is a lifestyle publication aimed at wealthy jetsetters, compiles a list based on a survey of its paying readers on their favourite restaurants and gourmet chefs from the past year.
The magazine unashamedly quotes its methodology. Each year Elite Traveler readers are open polled for their favorite restaurants, producing a top 100 list driven by thousands of votes of paying customers. In 2015 readers were asked to vote on their favorite restaurants, chefs, young chefs and which culinary maestro deserves the lifetime Elite Traveler achievement award. With the average Elite Traveler reader taking 41 private jet trips a year and eating in the worlds finest restaurants this really is the guide that leads the global fine dining conversation.
Are you an elite traveler worthy of a place in the poll?
The Michelin Guide
The formidable Red Guide is published each year for selected regions and countries and cannot be considered to be entirely a global list given places like Australia has no stars despite a number of restaurants deserving of at least one of the coveted Michelin stars.
The stars themselves, according to Michelin, represent (since 1936):
The star symbols judge only what’s on the plate, meaning the quality of products, the mastering of flavours, mastering of cooking, personality of the cuisine, value for the money and the consistency of what the restaurant offers to its customers both throughout the menu and the year.
One star indicates a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard. A good place to stop on your journey.
Two stars denote excellent cuisine, skilfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality. Worth a detour.
Three stars reward exceptional cuisine where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients. Worth a special journey.
The MICHELIN Guide is much more than a directory of restaurants and hotels. Michelin Inspectors analyze restaurants and hotels throughout the year under a clandestine cloak. Their anonymity is fundamental to the inspection process that has been refined over more than 100 years. The limited number of restaurants chosen for the MICHELIN Guides are all highly recommended, but earning a star is seen as one of the highest honors in the industry.
You might think being an inspector is glamourous, think again. To give you some idea of how busy they are, Michelin claims that every year, each inspector evaluates 240 restaurants, spends 130 nights in hotels, carries out 800 inspections, writes 1,100 reports and drives 18,000 miles The Guardian, 24 January 2008
According to the Guardian, Is there a downside?
Michelin does come in for criticism. The main bones of contention are:
Slow reactions: Andy Hayler, who has eaten his way around the world’s three-star restaurants, says that Michelin “is very slow to react to change at a restaurant, so it is tardy both to give stars and to take them away.”
Poor standards: A former inspector, Pascal Rémy, said that although all restaurants are supposed to be revisited every 18 months, they are actually only visited every three-and-a-half years, unless a specific complaint had been made. Rivals Hardens pointed out that the 2008 guide includes an entry for a London restaurant called Ribbands that actually closed in summer 2007.
Pressure on chefs: The Observer’s restaurant critic, Jay Rayner, said “there is nothing worse than a young chef desperately cooking for stars rather than his customers.” And Matthew Norman, the Guardian’s restaurant critic, said Michelin demands “a level of pretentiousness that is normally nauseating.”
French bias: There have been many accusations that the rating system is biased towards French cuisine, and France itself is certainly more thoroughly covered by Michelin than any other country.
Lack of transparency: However controversial its decisions, Michelin never says publicly why a particular restaurant did or did not receive a star. But, as Jay Rayner points out, this secrecy is “part of what makes Michelin so interesting (and infuriating).“