The original idea was simple: try to do something different, something that celebrates the restaurant world in a new, more relevant and entertaining way… Awards from the ground up but it took a whole decade to become a reality. These ground breaking awards celebrate the excellence, integrity and rich culture of the restaurant world.
So with much pomp and ceremony, the inaugural World Restaurant Awards were held at the Palais Brongniart in Paris on 18th February 2019. - 10 countries and 4 continents were represented. A glitzy, super chic event that celebrated not just the chefs that work their magic with foams, gels, skid marks on plates and liquid nitrogen, instead these awards celebrated many other aspects of the restaurant experience.
Over 100 judges from 37 countries made up a cosmopolitan, multicultural, globetrotting, gender balanced, panel of experts … chefs, restaurateurs, influential figures in old and new media, film makers, book publishers, food scientists, activists, campaigners. They chose from 18 different categories including …
No reservations required – for places where it is possible to turn up without a booking. This award went to Mocoto, Sao Paulo Brazil.
House special , restaurants defined by one particular dish was won by Lido 84 on the edge of Lake Garda in Italy for their simple but iconic pasta dish, Cacio e Pepe en Vessie (cooked in a pigs bladder).
Multi-starred Alain Ducasse won the Tattoo-free chef of the Year.
The Tweezer-free kitchen went to Bo.Lan in Bangkok.
The Pop Up Event of the Year was awarded to the Refugee Food Festivals.
New arrival of the Year went to Inua in Tokyo.
Ethical Thinking, rewarding environmental and social responsibility to Refettorio – various locations. Food for Soul, an Italian not-for-profit organisation that addresses food waste, loneliness, and social isolation through community meals.
Instagram Account of the Year was won by another 3 star Michelin chef, Alain Passard of Arpege in Paris.
Off map destination was won by Wolfgart, a 20 seat restaurant in a 130 year old white washed fisherman’s cottage on the edge of the ocean in Paternoster on the Western Cape.
Wolfgart also won Restaurant of the Year. Chef owner Kobus Van der Merve said ‘by keeping it small, we keep it sustainable’.
Red-Wine serving Restaurant - for those who shun current fashion by championing the red grape. This category was won by a cult London wine bar called Noble Rot.
Ireland was nominated in two categories and won both…
Collaboration of the Year went to Cork’s own Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso and farmer Ultan Walsh from Gortnanain Farm in Nohoval who has been growing beautiful produce for Café Paradiso for over 18 years. Denis accepted his award in beautiful, fluent Gaelic.
Much to our excitement, The Trolley of the Year Award went to Ballymaloe House. JR Ryle, who is the passionate young pastry chef and I proudly accepted the award on behalf of Ballymaloe and dedicated it to the memory of Myrtle Allen whose idea it was to have a trolley groaning with delicious desserts for her guests to choose from. She and her husband Ivan opened their home as a restaurant in 1964.
Everything about the ‘Oscars of Food Awards’ was super exciting. Chefs from all over the world flew in to give us a taste of their special little dish. The finest pata negra was carved off the bone into paper thin wisps, hundreds of oysters were shucked, tender abalone, black pepper soft shelled crabs, tantilizing tacos, chilli crab beignets and delicious coconut madelines, warm from the oven made by Cheryl Koh from Singapore, who promised me the recipe.
But perhaps what impressed me most was the short film by Perennial Farm shown at the beginning of the evening which reminded us cooks and chefs, what restaurants can do to combat climate change.
Chefs can help by:
- Sourcing from climate friendly farms and ranches.
- Going carbon neutral with zero ‘foot print’.
- Conserving energy and reducing consumption and waste.
- Spreading the message that food can be a solution…