Q&A with William Drew from the World’s 50 Best

As the annual celebration of the World's 50 Best Restaurant moves to New York City for this year's event, group editor William Drew talks about the influence of the awards and the global nature of the dining scene

Has the growth of the world’s 50 best restaurants surprised you?
A few years ago, I think the pace of growth surprised us. Now we are more confident in driving that growth and see the 50 Best brand as a credible global voice in gastronomy. The widespread interest in the lists and awards has given 50 Best a platform to become a tastemaker as much as a list-maker, helping food-loving diners to discover new destinations, explore new cuisines and celebrate talent across the world.

Why do you think chefs have taken to the 50 Best?
Chefs have engaged with 50 Best in part because its origins are as a list created by the industry and for the industry. That gave it credibility in the early days, which in turn has led to the media reporting on it, and then consumers following it. The awards event is still fundamentally a celebration of great restaurants and great chefs among fellows and restaurateurs. The events have also provided an opportunity for the chefs to get together, share experiences, make connections, compare notes, have a drink together – with friends from all around the world. That opportunity was never really there previously.

Why did you decide to move this year’s event to New York?
As 50 Best is a truly international brand with a global outlook, we wanted that to be reflected in the location of The World’ 50 Best Restaurants awards event itself. It marks the start of a global tour, which will see the event move from one key gastronomic destination to another. New York felt like the essential first step – it being one of the world’s greatest food cities.

Where next?
We will make an announcement in New York as to where we will host the events programme in 2017.

How do you view the evolution of the list over the years?
I think the list has become more diverse and reflective of the world as a whole. That is in part because people travel for food more than ever before, and they travel to more remote locations on the hunt for what is new and exciting too. We have seen the rise of Latin American countries and their cuisines and I still think Asia will be more strongly represented in the future. But the more traditional European powerhouses of the culinary world – France, Spain, Italy – are still well-represented, and that is sometimes forgotten.

Finally, what trends do you see happening on the restaurant scene internationally?
Vegetables and more vegetables! Even more simple, pared down dining spaces. Shorter tasting menus. More bespoke dining experiences that vary for each individual.

Tina Nielsen


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