Are the foodie Oscars a bit of a gimmick?
Irish restaurants have never won at 'The World's Best 50 Restaurants' and it's time to ask why.
Danish restaurant Noma has been re-crowned the world’s best restaurant, which must be a relief for food god Rene Redzepi after a year spent in second place.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards were held in London last night, a red carpet overwhelmed with some of the most influential people in the biz including Catalonian brothers of El Celler de can Roca who must have been disappointed to be knocked from their pedestal after a 2013 spent as top dog.
Anyone passionate about food would have marvelled at the guest list and while inarguably dreamy, one can’t help but ponder whether the awards are an accurate representation of the inspiring things that are happening in restaurants throughout the world.
The judging panel, which is made up chefs, food journalists and restaurateurs, is split into 26 geographical regions. Within each region, 36 industry insiders vote for their top seven restaurants which they consider the best on earth.
An Irish restaurant has yet to feature on the list which is baffling, considering our rich food culture and the stunning plates that are being sent out in restaurants throughout our little island.
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The lack of an Irish presence seems mystifying, when considering the inspiring use of Irish produce being celebrated in the likes of Aniar in Galway, a meal at which would have you clinging to the west forever more.
Within the judging realm of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Ireland falls into UK regional panel in which Irish food professionals are hugely underrepresented.
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When Sunday Independent food journalist Lucinda O’Sullivan joined the panel in 2012, she was one of the only judges casting a vote who was both from Ireland and who had a deep experience and knowledge of restaurants throughout the country. It seems that when it comes to restaurant equivalent of the Oscars we are in something of a blind spot.
Other countries such as France and Italy are regions upon themselves and their food culture is shouted at from the rooftops by their tourism boards. Our problem is that tourists know to come to Ireland for great craic, great Guinness and a great old sightsee but are not knowledgeable about how rich our food community in this country is and the absolutely amazing offerings being delicately created and served by Irish restauranteurs.
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Any foodie would be crazy to turn down an opportunity to attend next year’s ceremony, rub shoulders with Redzepi and clap as the long list was read out in London’s Guildhall but I can’t help but think it’s all a bit of a gimmick. A visit to Noma is the stuff that fills my dreams and I certainly am not questioning whether Redzepi deserves it this time around.
What I am trying to get across is that if the majority of the judging panel throughout the world had the same knowledge and opportunity to visit some of Ireland’s top eateries, would we finally feature? If we had a more significant number of Irish people on that panel would we have a greater opportunity to push Redzepi off the podium? I don’t know, but I think I’ll look upon the best 50 with a pinch of salt and continue to support the inspiring food that the majority of those on that red carpet have not been lucky enough to explore. For that I am fortunate.