Now it’s official: the award ceremony of the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2023 will be in Rio de Janeiro, in November 28th. The announcement was made today, May 31, by the CEO Charles Reed in the company of the mayor of the capital of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes . I feel immense pride in being chosen by this world gastronomy entity to host the award, which is so important. One of several lists that derived from the top ranking – the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants -, Latin America’s 50 Best covers five regions of the giant Latin American continent, ranging from Mexico to the southern tip of South America.
But after all, how does the ranking work behind the scenes, which has become the darling of chefs and restaurants around the world, and what differentiates it from other lists that rank businesses in the sector?
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking was born with a different concept from guides such as Michelin , which has a more technical look, with inspectors hired and trained to evaluate each aspect: quality of the products used by the establishment, mastery of flavor and culinary techniques, the personality of the chef in his kitchen, relationship between quality and price and consistency between visits. In the case of 50 Best, the idea is to make a selection from the point of view of the public, the consumer, those who frequent the restaurants.
For this, the ranking has a body of 1,080 jurors in 27 regions of the planet . They are renowned people, specialists in the art of eating and drinking, among gastronomy professionals, such as chefs and restaurant owners (34%), journalists and critics (33%) and foodies – those gastronomy lovers who travel the world to eat and drink well (33%).
The idea is to show, from the perspective of this team with different expertise, experiences and origins, what is happening most relevant at the table in the world. This brings two characteristics to the ranking that I think are important. The first is the diversity: among voters, there is a perfect balance between women and men (exactly 50% of each), with the very same number of jurors per region, all anonymous . Furthermore, 25% of this team of experts is renewed at each edition to avoid biased votes – we are human, after all.
All this care allows you to throw a magnifying glass into every little piece of the globe, from the point of view of people who understand the local cuisine giving chance to international visibility to establishments and cooks from places previously marginalized or ignored by the global gastronomic community. It is essential to address this issue because we are well aware that, as in literature and the arts, there has always been a very Eurocentric view of haute cuisine as a subject. Decades ago, much was known about star chefs from France, Spain, Italy. But what about the rest of the world, weren’t cooking ideas and techniques, wasn’t there a relevant gastronomic culture?
Of course. And the mission of the ranking is precisely to ensure this balanced coverage between regions as diverse as Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and Slovenia, the Middle East, South America, the United States and Canada, Southeast Africa and Oceania, for example. Even to avoid limiting biases when dealing with such a sensory experience as eating.
Think with me: if I was born in France and grew up with the reference of that cuisine, including in emotional terms, do I have in me all the criteria and repertoire to assess whether a tacacá from the Amazon is good, no matter how professional I am? Will I make a fair judgment when choosing between my favorite cuisine and a cuisine that is completely foreign to me, at first or second sight? Hard to know. It’s not an exact science. That’s why the diversity of views that make up the ranking is so necessary . The result is clear in the 2022 list, where we see restaurants from countries like Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Thailand and Singapore sharing space among the top 50 in the world with traditional representatives of the high table, such as Spain, France, Italy and England.
The other characteristic that marks 50 Best, in my opinion, is fluidity. O ranking is traced by trends . It’s a kind of snapshot, a Polaroid of the gastronomic scene at that time. It is natural, for example, that in times of great global concern with socio-environmental issues, houses and professionals who value working with local products and producers, rescue and preserve native ingredients and nourish the work in their communities gain prominence.
This does not mean that great classics or exemplary exponents and other gastronomic movements cease to occupy their places of mastery, but that the world – and gastronomy with it – is directing an eye to those who seek regenerative guidelines. Just like gastronomy itself, the result that the ranking points out, year after year, is also a reflection of society. And more: by indicating what he deems to be the best on the world scene at the moment, the list stimulates tourism and gastronomic transit, which ends up benefiting the sector’s businesses as a whole. When a restaurant like The House of the Pig located in the “centrão” of São Paulo, conquers the position of fourth best in Latin America and seventh best in the world, the victory is not lonely: the entire Brazilian gastronomy earns its deserved place in the sun.
Source: CNN Brasil
Johanna Foster is an expert opinion writer with over 7 years of experience. She has a reputation for delivering insightful and thought-provoking articles on a variety of subjects. Her work can be found on some of the top online news websites, and she is currently lending her voice to the world stock market.