An online petition has surfaced against the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, the organization sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, which publishes an annual ranking of globally-recognized restaurants.
The awards, which have been referred to as the “Oscars of fine dining,” directly impact a restaurant’s financial success, popularity, and prestige. Chef René Redzepi, whose restaurant Noma was the overall winner of 2014, has said before that falling to second place in 2013 “felt like standing outside on a perfect, clear day and suddenly being beaten to the ground by hoodlums.”
When Noma regained its top position, the chef said, “Of course I don’t consider Noma to be the best in the world. Is the color red best in the world this year?”
The petition, Occupy 50 Best, urges sponsors of the awards — an “opaque, sexist, and priggishly self-pleasing ranking which puts culinary nationalism before quality” — to withdraw their financial support so that the ranking system can lose its prominence.
“The ranking of the ‘50 Best’ is not built on any gastronomic, deontological, or even sanitary criteria,” the petition contends. The latter complaint likely refers to the outbreaks of norovirus discovered in previous years at both Noma and the Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal’s flagship, which has consistently made the list.
Furthermore, the awards system is criticized of being incredibly partial (“the partner countries, among them Peru and Singapore, are particularly over represented”) and sexist (“only one out of the 50 was a woman in 2014”).
In response to criticism that the awards are overwhelmingly biased against women, the organization created the Best Female Chef award, which remains controversial because of the gendered selection process put forth instead of an attempt to incorporate more women into the original list.
The 2015 awards will take place on June 1.