worlds 50 best 2019 restaurant winners

On Tuesday evening, a new era began as the very first World’s 50 Best Awards held in Asia unfolded in Singapore. The glittering event saw the culinary world gathered at Marina Bay Sands to witness the reveal of the prestigious list.

It appears Singapore’s home ground advantage did not apply, with only one restaurant from the city-state appearing on the list.

(Related: World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards in Singapore: everything you need to know)

Singapore restaurant Odette clinched the 18th spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, up 10 places from no. 28 last year. The modern French restaurant helmed by Julien Royer recently overtook Bangkok’s Gaggan for the top spot on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

An elated Royer shared: “I was no expecting anything at all. It’s an honour to just be on this list. We came in at 28 last year, our first time on the list, and we are 18th this year. It seems like eight is my lucky number.”

(Related: Odette: Meet Julien Royer’s wife, the woman behind the award-winning French chef)

Odette’s ranking at no. 18 (sitting below Gaggan which comes in fourth) appears to be dissonant with the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list – where Odette topped the list, ahead of Gaggan. Could this incongruence be explained by a difference in voting panelists powering both lists?

odette julien royer worlds 50 best 2019 singapore odette
The team at Odette, the only restaurant from Singapore to feature on the 2019 World’s 50 Best list. Photo: Odette

Movements on the 2019 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list

Despite its domination of the list, France has never had a restaurant in the no.1 spot until this year — with the transcultural Mediterranean fine dining restaurant Mirazur taking the title of the best restaurant in the world, up from third place last year. 

Fittingly enough, Argentinian-Italian head chef Mauro Colagreco is perhaps symbolic of the increasing inclusivity, and multiculturalism of the restaurant industry worldwide. “We need to share and understand the cuisine beyond borders…our vision is to try to give love, and live happily with our work. It’s a simple vision, but it’s a vision of life,” said Colagreco. 

Copenhagen’s Nordic pioneers Noma, which rebuilt itself from ground-up after a hiatus, is the highest new entry on the list at no. 2 — technically that is; since the first iteration of the restaurant saw it clinch the top spot in 2014.

[VIDEO] What it’s Like to Forage with Noma’s Rene Redzepi

Elsewhere on the list, Moscow’s Twins Garden made its debut in the top 50, gaining foothold with a staggering 19th spot. The progressive Russian restaurant is known for its farm-to-table cuisine and inspiring wine programme. 

Colombia also made its mark with its first entry: Leo, a groundbreaking restaurant from Bogota that showcases exotic, indigenous ingredients such as fat-bottomed ants.

It was however not the highest climber on the list, an accolade which went to Spain’s Azurmendi for catapulting from 43rd to 14th position. 

Rise of the Asian tigers

Chinese cuisine also saw a rare entry on the World’s 50 Best list. Hong Kong’s modern Cantonese restaurant The Chairman takes the no. 41 spot as a new entry. The hidden eatery is known for its locavore ethos and simple but produce-driven dishes like steamed flower crab with aged shaoxing wine, rice noodles, and chicken fat.

This is also Hong Kong’s first entry since contemporary French restaurant Amber took no. 24 in 2017.

As with every other industry, trends follow economic progress at different paces. New ingredients, techniques, and cultures are a definite bonus. It’s no coincidence that there are more Asian restaurants on the list.

(Related: Is Asia the key to the world’s future? Geopolitical strategist Parag Khanna thinks so.)x

What’s in a vote?

The structure of the awards has also seen some major changes this year.

Notably, restaurants that have topped the list previously — a surprisingly small number despite the award’s 18-year-reign — will now be placed in a Best-of-the-Best category. The French Laundry, elBulli, The Fat Duck, El Celler de Can Roca, Osteria Francescana, and Eleven Madison Park will no longer be eligible for the top 50 spots. The chefs of these restaurants will instead be given this platform to highlight their own passion projects and help impact positive change in the industry.

Despite the newly implemented 50-50 gender split on the 1000-strong voting panel, the male-bias observed in previous years remains. Only four female chefs and co-chefs made the list this year, down from five last year. They include Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn (who previously spoke out against the Best Female Chef category), Pia León (Central); Ana Ros (Hiša Franko), and Daniela Soto-Innes (Cosme).

(Related: How accurate is the World’s 50 Best Restaurants guide? Singapore industry insiders weigh in.)

Soto-Innes, who runs the trendy Cosme in New York (opened by Enrique Olvera of Pujol), took the title Best Female Chef of 2019 — an accolade previously also held by Ana Ros and Clare Smyth. Cosme is also known for its inclusive kitchen, contemporary Mexican cuisine, and mezcal programme. 

Meanwhile, this year’s Chefs’ Choice award — voted by winners on the list — goes to culinary doyen Alain Passard of L’Arpege. Passard is best known for removing meat dishes that helped his celebrated restaurant earn three Michelin stars and replacing them with a vegetable-only menu. While the move shocked critics, he retained all his stars.

Next up – Middle East and Africa?

After years of focusing on technique, ingredients, and — more recently — sustainability, the industry is looking inward at its most precious resource: people. Diversity, well-being, and positive work environments were the most salient topics discussed this year; with many of the listed restaurants this year representative of that discourse.

In a push for diversity and representation, the Middle East and Africa are also being discussed as possible places for the awards to expand to — the World’s 50 Best brand currently has separate categories for Asia and Latin America.


The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019

1. Mirazur | Menton, France

2. (Highest new entry to date) Noma | Copenhagen, Denmark

3. Asador Etxebarri | Atxondo, Spain 

4. Gaggan | Bangkok, Thailand 

5. Geranium | Copenhagen, Denmark 

6. Central | Lima, Peru

7. Mugaritz | San Sebastian, Spain 

8. Arpège | Paris, France 

9. Disfrutar | Barcelona, Spain

10. Maido | Lima, Peru

11. Den | Tokyo, Japan 

12. Pujol | Mexico City, Mexico

13. White Rabbit | Moscow, Russia

14. (Highest climber) Azurmendi | Larrabetzu, Spain

15. Septime | Paris, France

16. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée | Paris, France

17. Steirereck | Vienna, Austria 

18. Odette | Singapore

19. (New entry) Twins Garden | Moscow, Russia 

20. Tickets | Barcelona, Spain 

21. (Re-entry) Frantzén | Stockholm, Sweden

22. Narisawa | Tokyo, Japan

23. Cosme | New York, USA

24. Quintonil | Mexico City, Mexico 

25. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen | Paris, France

26. Boragó | Santiago, Chile

27. The Clove Club | London, UK

28. Blue Hill at Stone Barns | Pocantino Hills, USA

29. Piazza Duomo | Alba, Italy 

30. Elkano | Getaria, Spain 

31. Le Calandre | Rubano, Italy

32. (New entry) Nerua | Bilbao, Spain

33. Lyle’s | London, UK

34. Don Julio | Buenos Aires, Argentina

35. (Re-entry) Atelier Crenn | San Francisco, USA

36. Le Bernardin | New York, USA

37. Alinea | Chicago, USA 

38. Hiša Franko | Kobarid, Slovenia

39. (New entry) A Casa do Porco | São Paulo, Brazil

40. Restaurant Tim Raue | Berlin, Germany

41. (New entry) The Chairman | Hong Kong, China 

42. (New entry) Belcanto | Lisbon, Portugal

(Related: Where to dine in Lisbon, the emerging culinary mecca for gourmands)

43. (Re-entry) Hof Van Cleve | Kruishoutem, Belgium

44. The Test Kitchen | Cape Town, South Africa

45. Restaurant Sühring | Bangkok, Thailand

(Related: Is Bangkok’s first Michelin Guide good or bad for Thailand’s food scene?)

46. (Re-entry) De Librije | Zwolle, Netherlands

47. (New entry) Benu | San Francisco

48. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet | Shanghai, China

49. (New entry) Leo | Bogotá, Colombia

50. Schloss Schauenstein | Fürstenau, Switzerland 

Images courtesy of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants unless otherwise stated