The World Restaurant Awards 2019: Longlist nominations and judging panel ahead of February launch
Launching on 18th February at Palais Brongniart in Paris, the World Restaurant Awards will celebrate the excellence, integrity, diversity and rich culture of the restaurant world, from fine-dining innovators to humble, accessible establishments; major culinary capitals to more remote destinations.
IMG, in partnership with Joe Warwick (creative director) and Andrea Petrini (chair of the judging panel), have revealed the judging panel for the inaugural edition of these progressive new global awards, reflecting its pioneering commitment to equal gender representation. The 100-strong judging panel represents 36 different countries from Australia to Zimbabwe, and features a 50/50 gender split – the first international restaurant awards programme to achieve this balance. The cosmopolitan panel includes world-famous chefs such as Elena Arzak, Alex Atala, Massimo Bottura, David Chang, Hélène Darroze, Daniel Humm, Dan Barber, René Redzepi, Ana Roš, Yotam Ottolenghi and Clare Smyth, alongside a respected line-up of globe-trotting culinary media and influencers.
The World Restaurant Awards are comprised of 18 categories, divided into 12 “Big Plates” and six “Small Plates”. The chosen categories reflect different levels of restaurant accessibility to form a truly democratic awards system, and will change each year in collaboration and consultation with the judging panel.
Female chefs came to the fore with London’s newcomer Sabor, Lima’s Kjolle, Oakland’s Nyum Bai and Paris’ Virtus on the longlist for “Arrival of the Year”.
Meanwhile, there is recognition of the need for accessibility and affordability with more democratic dining choices evident in the “No Reservations Required” and “House Special” categories, where everything from simple street food to sophisticated cosmopolitan fusion is represented. Experiences longlisted in the “No Reservations Required” category include Tokyo fishburger bar Deli Fu Cious; Mumbai’s Bombay Canteen; Brown Sugar Kitchen in San Francisco; and London’s Black Axe Mangal. Nominated for its famous fried chicken paired with natural wines, Belle’s Hot Chicken in Sydney secures a spot in the “House Special” longlist, as does Porto’s Cervejaria Gazela, known for its unusual “hot dog” and the spicy grilled skewers of Glover Court Suya in Lagos.
LA’s envelope-pushing disruptor Vespertine has been nominated in both the “Original Thinking” and “Atmosphere of the Year” categories.
While the exciting newcomers longlisted will catch the eye of restaurant trendwatchers, long-running success stories such as Dooky Chase in New Orleans (opened 1941), a 550-year-old soba shop in Kyoto (Honke Owariya) and French staples such as La Mère Brazier and Paul Bocuse’s L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, which all surface in the “Enduring Classic” longlist, reflect the restaurant world’s rich heritage.
The “Off-Map Destination” longlist highlights far-flung and off-beat locations such as Koks, located in the unspoilt Tolkien-esque archipelago that is the Faroe Islands; Bootshaus, overlooking a picturesque peak-fringed lake in the Salzkammergut area of Upper Austria; and Slippurinn, housed in an old shipyard workshop on the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland.
From US social enterprises Cala (San Francisco) and Emma’s Torch (New York) that assist ex-cons and refugees with workplace training via China’s pioneering organic produce championing Long Jing Manor, to zero-waste innovator Silo on England’s south coast, the “Ethical Thinking” longlist recognises restaurants trying to make a difference.
Warwick, creative director of the World Restaurant Awards said: “We designed these categories and selected our judging panel to talk about excellent restaurants of all shapes, sizes and colours, and to provoke conversations that go beyond the usual big names and destinations.” Petrini, chair of the judging panel, added: “The talented chefs, journalists and assorted rootless cosmopolitans we have assembled have not let us down with their nominations. We’re looking forward to producing the shortlists and beginning the inspections to find the winners.”
Finally, Cécile Rebbot, director of The World Restaurant Awards, said: “The longlist nominations demonstrate why we have such faith in this project and the need for a new kind of restaurant awards. We know that they will inspire anyone that travels to discover great new restaurant experiences.”
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The World Restaurant Awards will take place in Paris on 18th February 2019. For a full list of the longlist nominations and the complete list of judging panel members, visit their website here.