In what seems to be a step in the right direction (and perhaps an acknowledgment for diversity and inclusivity), the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 crowned Mirazur, a restaurant in Menton, France helmed by Argentinian-Italian chef Mauro Colagreco as this year’s best.
“Wow, wow, wow, wow,” he said at the awards ceremony held at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. “What a crazy year, three Michelin stars and number one in the world, all in the same year. It’s a year I will remember forever.”
While accepting the award onstage, Colagreco and his team took this opportunity to show off a banner created from the flags of France, Argentina, Italy, and Brazil to stress how cuisine is able to “cross all kinds of borders,” which has shaped them and ultimately sums up the changes happening in the food industry today.
“We all share the values of France: liberte, egalite, fraternite (French for liberty, equality, fraternity).”
The biggest change this year however was a stronger push for diversity and inclusivity, starting with the voting panel that now features a 50/50 male/female split for the first time in history to encourage a more diversified mix of restaurants. Previous top winners were also excluded moving forward and instead will be featured in the currently being developed Best of the Best program.
In addition, it was also the first time the awards was held in Asia, which, as William Drew, group editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, shared in the pre-event press conference, was the starting point for the organization entering a more diverse and inclusive future. That will eventually include the Middle East and Africa.
And while this year saw only five female-fronted restaurants earn spots on the list, this year’s awards saw some memorable moments that would spark the very change the organization hopes for with Dominique Crenn finally debuting at No.35 and Colombian chef Leonor Espinosa of Leo making it to No. 49. Mexican restaurant Pujol, also named the best in North America, cracked the Top 15 at No. 12 and Mexican-born “best female chef” Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme in New York City landed at No. 23.
Soto-Innes said it best in her acceptance speech of the always-controversial award: “As a Mexican woman leading a diverse team, I believe with every day, every meal, every guest, we can fight against the ignorance and prejudice which tells us our voices shouldn’t be heard […] Not only does our happiness matter, but we can spread it.”
Best Pastry Chef: Jessica Préalpato (Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris)
Best Female Chef: Daniela Soto-Innes (Cosme, New York City)
Icon Award: José Andrés (ThinkFoodGroup, Washington D.C.)
One to Watch: Lido 84 (Gardone Riviera, Italy)
BBVA Scholarship Winner: Andersen Lee
Sustainable Restaurant Award: Schloss Schauenstein (Fürstenau, Switzerland)
Chefs’ Choice Award: Alain Passard
Highest Climber: Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain)
Art of Hospitality Award: Den (Tokyo, Japan)