Right now, the world’s most high profile restaurant awards are being held in New York. Before the 2016 rankings are unveiled tomorrow, the organisation behind them has announced something just as consequential for Australian restaurants. Next year, and for only the second time in its history, the awards will be held somewhere other than London. Speculation has been flying for weeks that Sydney would play host, but it was only this morning that Melbourne was officially announced as the home of next year’s awards.
Traditionally held in London, this year the influential award spread its wings for the first time in its 14 years. With New York picked as the first international host city, today’s news is both an endorsement of (and a major opportunity for) Australia’s food, wine and dining community.
Food has long been part of Australia’s tourism push (barbecued shrimp, anyone?) but it’s only the past few years that have really seen tourism agencies take advantage of our increasingly global profile. There was 2014’s bold Restaurant Australia initiative that saw the world’s food elite invited to dinner in Tasmania, and earlier this year Noma’s 10-week Sydney residency drew further international attention to our dining scene and native flavours.
“Hosting these awards and the event program we plan to build around them is a natural extension of our Restaurant Australia campaign,” says John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia. “As the host destination for next year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards, we have the perfect platform to build upon that.
Dates and event details are still to be announced, but many of the country’s best chefs are already excited about the prospect of (re)inviting the world for another feed. One of those chefs is Neil Perry: his restaurant Rockpool debuted on the inaugural rankings in 2002 and remained a permanent part of the list in its early days.
“The event is going to show the world’s food media that Australia has so much to offer,” Perry says. “It’ll be a really nice lift for the country’s chefs and restaurateurs. It’s like having the culinary Olympics in town and everyone is going to want to do their best.”
Despite its name, the awards actually rank 100 restaurants, and last week released the “back 50” with notable consequences for Australian restaurants. Dan Hunter’s Brae, in Victoria’s Otway district, climbed 23 places (from 87 to 65), while Sydney’s Quay dropped 40 spots (from 58 to 98). Fellow Sydney restaurant Sepia, ranked 84th in 2015 and the winner of last year’s One to Watch award, didn’t poll at all in the 2016 top 100.
This leaves at least one Australian restaurant well-placed inside the top 50, so stay posted to our social media channels tomorrow morning as we bring you live coverage from the 2016 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in New York.