The organization has also balanced its voting panel along gender lines.

By Mike Pomranz
January 16, 2019
Sam Tabone / Contributor / Getty Images

If you’re going to have a discussion about the greatest bands ever, sometimes it makes sense to just lop a few off the top. Yes, The Beatles are great. Now let’s get into some actual debate. A similar philosophy can apply to other topics as well — like, apparently, best restaurant in the world.

In a move that’s sure to elicit plenty of debate of its own, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants announced today that, starting with the 2019 list, restaurants that have topped the list at any point in its 17-year history will no longer be eligible to be included in the future. Instead, these restaurants will be moved onto a “Best of the Best” list.

This new restaurant hall of fame, if you will, is one of two major changes 50 Best is making for the 2019 vote. In a move intended to address one of the list’s most reoccurring criticisms — that it lacks diversity — 50 Best has also adjusted its voting panel to assure that it is evenly balanced along gender lines. “Voters are also encouraged to look beyond the list itself in their travels, and will once again be asked to take issues of representation and reputation into consideration in their choices,” the organization states.

Still, though gender equality should certainly alter the overall shape of the list moving forward, the choice to bump previous winners from the voting pool will cause an immediate and very visible change right at the top.

Of course, 50 Best would have been ill-advised to make this change without the blessing of at least some of the seven restaurants that have taken the top spot since the list started in 2002. Along those lines, Daniel Humm, chef and co-owner of 2017’s No. 1 restaurant Eleven Madison Park, chimed in as part of the official statement. (Later, El Celler de Can Roca’s Joan Roca praised the new format as well.)

“As the world of food and restaurants continues to progress, it’s exciting to see 50 Best evolve along with it,” Humm was quoted as saying. “With these changes, we’ll see a broader field of restaurants and chefs step onto the international stage and it’s humbling to be able to contribute to that transformation. Food is all about community and expanding that will only strengthen our impact.”

Oddly enough, however, in the very next paragraph, 50 Best seem to backtrack a bit on this concept. “The restaurants that will be promoted to the Best of the Best group from June 2019 include the now-closed el Bulli, The French Laundry, The Fat Duck, El Celler de Can Roca, Eleven Madison Park, current No.1 Osteria Francescana and the original Noma,” the announcement explains. “The new incarnation of Noma, opened in February 2018 with a new concept, location and structure, will this year be eligible for the first time.” Uh, but didn’t Eleven Madison Park just go through a remodel too? But it stayed at the same location, so maybe that’s why it’s not eligible again? But what if they had changed their name to Twelve Madison Park? Suddenly, it all seems a bit more confusing.

But hey, isn’t the debate about the debate part of the debate?? Suddenly, I just want to listen to Abbey Road.

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