The World Restaurant Awards
The World Restaurant Awards were created by the food writers Joe Warwick and Andrea Petrini in partnership with producers IMG to “to celebrate the excellence, integrity and diversity of the world’s restaurant scene, from fine dining innovators to humble, accessible establishments; major culinary capitals to more remote destinations.” The awards are designed to be different to any existing award system and give a global stage to the full spectrum of restaurants as well as restaurant experiences, teams and initiatives.
The inaugural ceremony and launch of the World Restaurant Awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino, took place at a glitzy red-carpet ceremony in Paris on February 18, 2019 and was attended by stars from around the world including Alex Atala, Alain Ducasse, Dan Barber, Hélène Darroze, Ana Roś and Clare Smyth.
Each award is presented in front of a gathered audience in one of 18 categories which are further divided into Big Plates and Small Plates – “designed to capture the breadth and depth of the world's restaurant community.”
The twelve Big Plates categories at the inaugural edition included various restaurant awards such as Arrival of the Year; House Special; Off Map Destination; Atmosphere of the Year; No Reservations Required; Enduring Classic and Ethical Thinking.
The 'Small Plates' category was designed to “recognise contemporary cultural nuances by acknowledging the pivotal role social media now plays in the restaurant world” with some tongue in cheek awards like Tweezer-Free Kitchen of the Year and Tattoo-Free Chef of the Year.
Award recipients are chosen by some of the biggest icons in food, including big-name chefs like Virgilio Martinez, Elena Arzak and Alex Atala plus assorted international restaurant journalists, art critics and influential figures. The judging panel is “cosmopolitan, multicultural, globetrotting, gender-balanced panel” of restaurant experts of 37 different nationalities.
Wolfgat restaurant in South Africa was the winner of inaugural award for The Restaurant of the Year, chosen from all the inspected big plates for being “a small, remote haven of purity and good taste in every sense.”
The categories are destined to evolve each year in collaboration and consultation with the judging panel.