The making of 50 Next: how the ground-breaking new list came to be

Laura Price - 23/04/2021

Earlier this week, we launched the first-ever 50 Next, a list of young people shaping the future of gastronomy. Now, let us take you behind the scenes to show how the list was made…

When 50 Best first sat down with the Basque Culinary Center and Biscay government to talk about forming a new initiative, the sole goal was to champion bright young talent. We were united in our mission to reward and incentivise innovation, transformation and entrepreneurship across the entire gastronomic scene, from pioneering food and drink producers to hospitality heroes. We wanted to use the expertise and leadership of the 50 Best family formed over almost 20 years to connect today’s gastronomic leaders with the next generation, to share knowledge and amplify young voices.

Those initial conversations were the genesis of 50 Next, an initiative that champions people aged 35 and under from across the food and drink universe. The inaugural Class of 2021 is a diverse selection of bright sparks from 34 different countries, spanning many different aspects of eating, drinking, farming, science and technology. Discover the list and find out how it came together…

How the list was made

While The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and The World’s 50 Best Bars lists are created through an anonymous voting system, 50 Next is different. In October 2020, we invited people from all over the world to apply for 50 Next or to nominate someone else.

Applications and nominations
Applications were open to anyone under the age of 35 or with less than three years’ experience in their field across any area of gastronomy. We also invited nominations so that anyone could recommend someone worthy of recognition, be it their employee, their colleague or their cousin. Simultaneously, the experts at the Basque Culinary Center and 50 Next were scouting for talent, using our international expertise and contacts to find the brightest young minds in gastronomy.

700 candidates
At the end of our month of open calls, we had more than 700 candidates in the running, all of whom were subject to expert analysis by 50 Next and the Basque Culinary Center, our official Academic Partner. All shortlisted candidates were contacted and given in-depth interviews by the team. Finally, we selected the class of 2021.

What the experts were looking for

A deep pool of talent – While 50 Best is known for celebrating restaurants and bars, we wanted 50 Next to be inclusive of the wider gastronomic world. This meant looking for people across the broad spectrum of food and drink, from the producers and scientists working behind the scenes to the activists and hospitality heroes on the front line.

Clear achievements – We also looked for people who had shown obvious results and made solid contributions in their areas of interest – not just those with a great idea.

Diversity – Finally, we sought to create a wide-ranging list that truly represents the extraordinary talent within the global gastronomic sector. This meant exploring many different job sectors across the entire world.

50 Next in numbers
It was important that 50 Next was not a ranking – the diverse selection of winners is celebrated equally. Instead, to divide the list, we created seven categories, each of which is unranked and covers a broad spectrum of different career types.

Gender mix
The Class of 2021 is 48% female, 38% male and features a series of mixed and single-sex teams who have worked together towards a shared goal.

24 women
19 men
7 groups

Geographical diversity
The inaugural list features people from 34 different countries across six continents. While there are 29 countries of residence, there are 34 countries of origin, owing to the fact that many young innovators have left their home countries to settle in tech, business or educational hubs such as the UK and US.

Asia 18%
Australasia 6%
Africa 12%
Europe 34%
Middle East 2%
USA and Canada 10%
Caribbean 2%
Latin America 16%

Best of the Best meets 50 Next
As part of our commitment to connecting today’s leaders of gastronomy with the next generation, we teamed up with the Best of the Best – the group of seven restaurants and chefs behind them that have earned the title of World’s Best Restaurant since 2002. We asked the leaders of those restaurants to provide an endorsement for one person from each category, stating why they believe that person deserves praise – you can read their endorsements here.

What’s Next?
n 2022, once travel restrictions are eased, we will hold the inaugural live event in the region of Biscay, in the Basque Country of Spain, the official Host Destination Partner to 50 Next. The event will celebrate the 50 Next lists of 2021 and 2022, as well as fomenting conversation and fostering new relationships within the gastronomic community. This live programme will also feature representatives from the Best of the Best group of restaurants, giving the people on the 50 Next list unparalleled access to some of the icons of the restaurant world.

S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy
As a supporting partner to 50 Next, the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy is teaming up with a selection of candidates from the Hospitality Pioneers category in its in its 2021/22 educational program as lecturers. Alongside the most renowned members of the world of gastronomy, they will have the opportunity to share their experience with hundreds of passionate young chefs as part of the Academy, the inspiring community launched in November 2020 by S.Pellegrino.

Applications and nominations for 2022
Later in the year, we will announce the open call for applications for the 2022 list. Stay tuned to 50 Best’s social media channels to be the first to hear all the 50 Next news!

Meet the class of 2021
Now, discover the inaugural 50 Next list.

For any questions regarding 50 Next, please consult the FAQs on the website.

Keep an eye on the 50 Next website for more developments and for information on how to apply and nominate for next year’s list