2018: the 50 Best Restaurants and Bars year in review

Giulia Sgarbi - 19/12/2018

In the world of food and drinks, as well as within the 50 Best family, 2018 was a year marked by many firsts – from the first awards ceremony for Asia’s 50 Best Bars, to the first ever 50 Best BBVA Scholarship and the first stand-alone edition of #50BestTalks. Themes of equality, diversity and giving back to the community dominated the discourse around drinks and culinary trends, while iconic eateries such as Restaurant André closed, and others – such as Noma – were reborn.

2018 was a year when more than one important food personality sadly passed away, but it also highlighted a new generation of cooks and bartenders trying to make the world a more sustainable place, one dish at a time. Take a trip back through some of the year's most important culinary happenings.


50 Best BBVA Scholarship – 4 January 2018


2018 began with an announcement: joining forces with Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), 50 Best started the year with an initiative to nurture the next generation of cooks. The winner of the first ever 50 Best BBVA Scholarship would complete stages in two restaurants, Mugaritz in the Basque Country with chef Andoni Luis Aduriz and Atelier Crenn in San Francisco with chef Dominique Crenn. On the 50 Best website, Aduriz and Crenn shared their reflections on the beginning of their careers in interviews, while an expert stagiare shared tips to make the most of a restaurant internship.


Paul Bocuse – 20 January 2018


The news of the passing of legendary French chef Paul Bocuse reverberated across the culinary world, with cooks all over the planet – from Thomas Keller to René Redzepi – mourning one of the personalities that defined gastronomy in the 20th and 21st centuries. “As one of the pioneers of France’s ‘nouvelle cuisine’ movement in the late Sixties and Seventies, Bocuse did more than anyone to ensure his country’s food did not stand still by creating a lighter, innovative and more refined chapter in its history,” said 50 Best Group Editor William Drew in a tribute.


Restaurant André in Singapore closes – 14 February 2018

Eight years after opening, having reached No.2 in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 list, Restaurant André in Singapore did its final service on Valentine’s Day. “We live in a world that changes so fast. The palate changes so fast and in this industry you must stay relevant. It took me 10 years to create Restaurant André. I’m sure I can take another 10 years to create something better,” chef-owner André Chiang said in an interview.


Noma in Copenhagen reopens – 15 February 2018


As one door closes, another one opens – or at least that was the case in February, when René Redzepi’s new vision for restaurant Noma in Copenhagen came to life the day after Restaurant André closed on the other side of the globe. The restaurant that changed the history of Scandinavian cuisine, becoming No.1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list four times, was closed for over a year while Redzepi and his team did pop-ups in Australia and Mexico, gathering ideas for the new Noma. Look inside Noma and the new menu on 50 Best’s Instagram.


Luke Dale-Roberts takes action against Cape Town water crisis – 19 February 2019


As chef-owner of The Test Kitchen in Cape Town, South Africa, Luke Dale-Roberts led a series of initiatives to keep ahead of the town’s worsening water crisis. Through efforts such as Drought Kitchen, a program to serve a reduced-cost menu using the absolute minimal amount of water, as well as getting rid of linen and cloths to reduce the use of water for washing, he helped the town face the worst water crisis in its history.


Dominique Crenn calls for equality – 8 March 2018


2017 marked a historical moment for gender equality with the Time’s Up movement, but in the view of many, the restaurant world still has a lot to do to catch up with the progress. On International Women’s Day, chef Dominique Crenn shared her reflections on equality in a piece on the 50 Best website. “Equality is rarely on the menu at the finest restaurants. Gender equality doesn’t just happen, it’s the ingredient you have to forage for, the one that makes you work to extract its incredible flavours and textures. But it’s that same hard-to-get ingredient that keeps your guests coming back for more. The world is hungry for change. This is where we start.”


Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants – 27 March 2018

The Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants festivities took place over the course of two days in Macao, with the leading chefs in the region getting together to share innovative ideas at #50BestTalks: Exploring identity, celebrate their achievements at the 1920s-themed Chefs’ Feast and discover the new list and award winners at the awards ceremony at Wynn Palace. Among the honoured restaurants was Toyo Eatery, winner of the Miele One To Watch Award, where chef Jordy Navarra elevates Filipino cuisine; while it was Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand, which took home the title of The Best Restaurant in Asia for the fourth time. Gaggan spoke of his desire to inspire the next generation in an interview with 50 Best.


The man who dined at 99 out of 100 of The World’s Best Restaurants – 11 April 2018


In the run-up to the revelation of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018, 50 Best spoke to Paul Grinberg, the Californian man who made it his mission to eat at every destination on the 2017 list and the extended 51-100. He is still only one restaurant away from achieving his goal – read the interview where he shares his highlights from a year of eating at some of the most forward-thinking spots on the planet.


Jessie Liu wins the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship – 18 April 2018

In April, Taiwanese cook Jessie Liu became the first ever winner of the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship. As a language student at university in her home city of Taipei, she was destined for a career in international business – at least in her family’s eyes. But the strange allure of the kitchen was somehow too strong for this intelligent and ambitious individual. Thanks to the scholarship, Liu met her idols at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in Bilbao, cooked with Andoni Luis Aduriz at Mugaritz and had the chance to be mentored by Dominique Crenn – retrace her journey in the 10 best moments of the first scholarship.


Asia’s 50 Best Bars – 3 May 2018

At the first ever awards ceremony for Asia’s 50 Best Bars, which was held in Singapore, Manhattan bar topped the list for the second time, with head bartender Philip Bischoff picking up the trophy. The 2018 list saw eight new entries from Hong Kong to Bangkok and a host of special awards given to individual bartenders and bars. Singapore and China tied as the countries with the most bars on the list, with a high of 12 each, and nine different countries were represented overall.


Anthony Bourdain – 8 June 2018


A chef as well as an award-winning author, travel writer and television personality, Anthony Bourdain left an incommensurable void in the world of modern gastronomy with his premature death. Dissecting the kitchen from his exacting and unforgiving point of view, he became one of the world’s most influential chefs with works such as Kitchen Confidential (2000) and worked on CNN’s iconic TV programme Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown until his death. Read Bourdain’s obituary on The Guardian.


The World’s 50 Best Restaurants – 19 June 2018

In June 2018, the world’s leading cooks met in the Basque Country of Spain for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants celebrations, which took over the region with a host of events from #50BestTalks: Life Cycle, through to Food Meets Art, the Chefs’ Feast in the village of Atxondo and the moment the culinary world had been waiting for – the revelation of the new list.

Global gastronomy was celebrated with a variety of awards, including Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio receiving the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award and Clare Smyth of Core in London picking up the elit® Vodka World’s Best Female Chef prize. But it was Italian cook Massimo Bottura who picked up the ultimate accolade, with his flagship restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, topping the list for a second time, and the chef promising to use this title to spread good and give back.

The events in the Basque Country also provided an opportunity to explore what the region has to offer, from pintxo bars to the world’s best steaks and Bilbao’s top culinary spots.


Pía León opens Kjolle in Lima – 20 July 2018


After a decade cooking at Central, the three-time No.1 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, alongside her husband Virgilio Martínez, chef Pía León – who would soon go on to win the elit® Vodka Latin America’s Best Female Chef title – opened her first solo restaurant, Kjolle, in the Peruvian capital in July. From cooking with little-known produce from the Amazon and the Andes to serving plants picked by her and Martínez’s three-year-old son, we found out everything you need to know about Kjolle.


Joël Robuchon – 6 August 2018


Marking the end of an era, the passing of renowned French chef Joël Robuchon saw the culinary world come together again to celebrate the life and the accomplishments of an unforgettable culinary personality. The most Michelin-starred chef in the world, Robuchon taught and inspired many of the world’s finest cooks. Read the tributes for the legendary chef from the 50 Best family, including Anne-Sophie Pic and the Roca brothers.


50 Best commits to a more inclusive restaurant industry – 7 September 2018


In an open letter published on the 50 Best website, Hélène Pietrini – director of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants – announced upcoming changes in the Academy that votes for the list, which will achieve 50-50 gender balance in 2019, and encouraged the food industry to work together to achieve equality in the kitchen. “While there is inevitably a wide variety of views on exactly how we push for greater gender balance and wider diversity in the restaurant world, we are all essentially shooting for the same goal. We do not have all the answers, but working together we can make a significant difference,” she said.


#50BestTalks: Voices for Change – 12 September 2018

In the first stand-alone edition of 50 Best’s thought-leadership series #50BestTalks, presented by Miele and held in San Francisco, an all-star line-up of chefs took to the stage to share their opinions and projects on how chefs can help champion a diverse future. Highlights included Gaggan Anand discussing how perceptions of Asian food have changed; Virgilio Martínez highlighting Peru’s biodiversity; Dominique Crenn discussing what leading an ethical kitchen means; Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes debating how Mexican restaurants changed their reputation in the US and Lara Gilmore speaking of her and husband Massimo Bottura’s projects to give back to the community.


The World’s 50 Best Restaurants announces move to Singapore – 2 October 2018


At a special event held at Avenue in London in partnership with Singapore Tourism Board, 50 Best announced that the 2019 awards programme for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants will be held for the first time in Asia. Around the awards in mid-2019, Singapore will also host a live ticketed edition of #50BestTalks and a host of other events to celebrate the best of global gastronomy.


The World’s 50 Best Bars – 3 October 2018

The 2018 list of The World’s 50 Best Bars, announced at an awards ceremony at the Roundhouse in London, included 10 new entries and two re-entries, with bars from 26 cities across 20 countries. The title of The World’s Best Bar, sponsored by Perrier, was claimed by Dandelyan in London, only days after bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana announced that the bar would be closing. Read the interview with Chetiyawardana on the bar’s final menu, and find out more about the hotel bar revolution with Agostino Perrone, the bartender behind the bar that won the Heering Legend of the List award, Connaught Bar in London.


Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants – 30 October 2018

The leading representatives of Latin America’s gastronomy from Chile to Uruguay met in Bogotá at the end of October for the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants celebrations. The last edition of #50BestTalks for 2018 focused on the theme of the future of protein, while Lima restaurant Maido – with its Nikkei cuisine marrying Japanese and Peruvian flavours – took home the award for The Best Restaurant in Latin America for the second time. Among the other award winners were mother and son María Elena Lugo Zermeño and Gerardo Vázquez Lugo, the owners of Mexico City restaurant Nicos, and Manu in Curitiba, Brazil, winner of the Miele One To Watch.


The World’s 50 Best Bars announces 10th Anniversary celebrations – 13 December 2018


With the first edition of The World’s 50 Best Bars published in 2009, the organisation announced that it will celebrate its 10th birthday in 2019 with a special event held in New York and presented by elit® Vodka, which will reunite representatives of all the previous No.1s in the history of the list. Jonathan Downey from Milk & Honey, Jim Meehan from PDT, Alex Kratena from Artesian, Jillian Vose from The Dead Rabbit, Declan McGurk from American Bar and Ryan Chetiyawardana from Dandelyan will all take part in a special edition of #50BestTalks on Tuesday 12th February 2019.

In 2019, stay tuned to our FacebookInstagram and Twitter channels for the latest 50 Best news and subscribe to our YouTube channel for videos.