Almost two years on from the start of the global pandemic, the hospitality sector is still reeling after consecutive lockdowns and chaotic conditions. With permanent closures in the thousands and many more foodservice workers out of a job, most would have been looking forward to starting a new year with fresh hope for a return to more normal conditions.
But as we watch a new worrying variant tear through the world, foodservice operators everywhere are either in some stage of lockdown again, unable to open due to staff illness or anxiously waiting to find out if further restrictions are about to be introduced.
To shine a light on the good things, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants has published a manifesto for 2022, expressing optimism for a year that sees the organisation line up an exciting series of events.
“Our Hope for Hospitality is to acknowledge those recent challenges, to take onboard the lessons we have learned, and to build on the work 50 Best and its partners have been doing to support and benefit the wider hospitality community,” it said in a statement.
New ways to support
In pre-pandemic times the 50 Best team focused on delivering memorable celebrations of the best in world gastronomy, but since 2020, it has continued to come up with alternative ideas and events, turning to live virtual events to focus on fundraising for the beleaguered sector.
The 50 Best for Recovery programme raised a total of $1.29m, distributing grants to over 200 restaurants in 53 countries affected in the pandemic. The organisation also published a charity e-book Home Comforts: simple lockdown recipes from the world’s best chefs and bartenders, introduced The Recovery Summit and a virtual Recovery hub, which collated stories from the industry to support and inspire.
While the 2020 in-person event to celebrate the 50 Best Restaurants had to be postponed, the event did take place this year in Antwerp, Belgium. For 2022 the world of gastronomy will gather in Moscow, but before then the inaugural Middle East & North Africa‘s 50 Best Restaurants will be held in Abu Dhabi in February. The same month will also see the publication of the second edition of the 50 Next, highlighting the young people shaping the wider foodservice and hospitality sector and published in collaboration with The Basque Culinary Center in Spain.
Another programme launched during the pandemic, Champions of Change, focusing on the people in hospitality who are creating positive change, will continue in 2022 and further additions will be made to the 50 Best Discovery, a city guide for restaurants and bars currently listing around 2,000 establishments around the world.
Reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to upcoming activities, the team concludes:
“Our Hope for Hospitality is to improve and evolve, knowing there will always be challenges along the way, but also knowing that we have the tools and the passion to make meaningful change in our community, and help create a more open-minded and inclusive world.”