The inaugural edition of the World Restaurant Awards was held in Paris, France on 18th February 2019. These awards have been created to celebrate restaurants and the world of food. And there were some surprise winners!
The winner of the ‘Restaurant of the Year’ award was The Wolfgat, a tiny 20-seater restaurant in South Africa, where a seven-course menu costs a mere 60 dollars. The restaurant is quietly tucked away on a 130-year-old beach facing cottage on the Wolfgat cave in Paternoster, a fishing village on the Western Coast of South Africa. Specializing in local seafood, the restaurant opened only two years ago. It has a total of six staff, most of whom are untrained. The head chef of the restaurant, Kobus van der Merwe forages on the West Coast to pick fresh ingredients for the meals. It is this back-to-basics, sustainable cooking that floored the judges. Van der Merwe, a former journalist, received the award on behalf of his entire team.
What are the World Restaurant Awards?
The World Restaurant Awards have been initiated by IMG, a notable events and media company that operates in countries across the world, in collaboration with Joe Warwick and Andrea Petrini. Joe Warwick, who serves as the Creative Director of these awards, is well-renowned in the culinary world. He is the co-founder of ‘The World’s 50 best restaurants’ and is a famous food writer, editor, and restaurant critic. Andrea Petrini, the Chair of the judging panel, is also a renowned food-critic and the creator of the very famous gastronomic roadshow – Gelinaz!
While there are many awards to honour stalwarts in the culinary industry, these awards seek to be more inclusive and recognize talent from all across the world in a better way. The judging panel comprised of 50 men and women culinary professionals and food journalists from over 35 countries. This proportion of women on the panel is commendable, considering that women have consistently been sidelined and underrepresented in major food awards.
The awards were given in 18 categories, divided as Big Plate and Small Plate. The categories included ‘No Reservations Required,’ ‘Atmosphere,’ ‘Ethical Thinking,’ and ‘Forward Thinking.’ There were some cheeky categories too, like the tattoo-free chef of the year!
Here is a List of the Award Winners.
Big Plate Winners
Restaurant of the Year – Wolfgat, Paternoster, South Africa
Arrival of the Year – Inua, Tokyo, Japan
Original Thinking – Le Clarence, Paris, France
Off-Map Destination – Wolfgat, Paternoster, South Africa
No Reservations Required – Mocoto, Sao Paolo, Brazil
House Special –Lido 84’s Cacio e Pepe ‘En Vessie’, Lombardy, Italy
Forward Drinking – Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
Event of the Year – Refugee Food Festival, worldwide, France
Ethical Thinking – Refettorio (Food For Soul), various locations, Italy
Enduring Classic – La Mère Brazier, Lyon, France
Collaboration of the Year – Paradiso x Gortnanain Farm, Cork, Ireland
Atmosphere – Vespertine, Los Angeles, United States
Small Plate Winners:
Tweezer-Free Kitchen of the Year – Bo.Lan, Bangkok, Thailand
Trolley of the Year – Ballymaloe House, Cork, Ireland
Long-Form Journalism – Lisa Abend, Fool Magazine ‘The Food Circus’
Red-Wine Serving Restaurant – Noble Rot, London, United Kingdom
Tattoo-Free Chef of the Year – Alain Ducasse, Paris, France
Instagram Account of the Year – @alain_passard
Read more about the awards here.