The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014
Interview with William Drew, Group Editor, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants
Port Culinaire: We know that there are 26 international regions with Chairs who select voters out of their region. How are these Chairs selected? Who is responsible for that?
William Drew: These Chairs are selected by the organisers of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We seek out respected professionals involved in the gastronomic world – usually in the media – with strong contacts across the region that they represent.
PC: In general, who controls the chairs and their choosing of voters?
WD: We work with the Chairs throughout the year; they sign an Academy Chairs Charter in order to make it clear what they can and cannot do in relation to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants programme, and what we expect of them. This includes guidelines on the make-up of their voting panel. They put forward a panel of voters with their full details, which is then approved (or adjustments requested) by the organisers.
PC: Is that Chair position temporary? And if yes, how long is that period? If no, how often do you change Chairs?
WD:We have recently sought to rotate a number of chairs each year to ensure there is a degree of freshness in the Academy as a whole. But there is not a fixed period.
PC: In the 50 Best manifesto is written "the panel is made up of food critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly regarded ‘foodies’" – is there a percentage share of these different groups?
WD: Yes, approximately one-third chefs and restaurateurs; one-third food writers and critics; and one-third highly regarded ‘foodies’ or ‘gastronomes’. We also change a approximately one third of each panel ever year.
PC: You have a total of around 6500 votes. If we think about No.1 and 2 on the list, how many votes difference is between this two positions?
WD: We never discuss the specific number of votes, or differences between the positions in voting terms.
PC: Are there voter cluster to be seen in the voting's? e.g. Do speech communities vote each other? (UK / U.S.A. – Spain / Latin America – Germany / Austria).
WD: Not necessarily. Of course there are occasional ‘clusters’, but there is not consistent pattern to such clusters.
PC: Special Awards: One to watch, Sustainable Restaurant, etc. These are not part of the voting’s, are they? How are these awards decisions made?
WD: The One To Watch is selected by the editorial team at Restaurant magazine, based on their own knowledge and the feedback from their contacts around the world. The Sustainable Restaurant Awards is the result of an audit carried out by the Sustainable Restaurant Association of those restaurants within the 50 Best list who voluntarily agree to such an audit. The restaurant with the highest sustainability score is named as the winner of The Sustainable Restaurant Award, sponsored by Zacapa. Other awards including the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef and the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award are voted for by the 900-plus voting academy.
PC: Please find here our last and general question:
There has been the international roll out with the 50 Best of Asia and 50 Best of Latin America. Wouldn't it be logical to have the 50 Best of Europe and the 50 Best of the United States as well?
WD: Not necessarily. The world of gastronomy - and even The World’s 50 Best Restaurants – has traditionally been dominated by European and US restaurants so we’re not sure that those areas require further discover and promotion. Both Asia and Latin America are less discovered in global gastronomic terms, hence the rollout of the programme to such territories.
Thank you for this interview Mr. Drew!