About the Academy


The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy is the mechanism used to create The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. None of the employees of any of the sponsors associated with the awards votes or has any influence over the results. The Academy is comprised of over 1,000 members, each selected for their expert opinion of the international restaurant scene, with a 50/50 gender balance.

To create the Academy, and give it a fair representation of the global restaurant scene, we divide the world up into 27 geographical regions. Each region has a chairperson appointed for their knowledge of their part of the restaurant world. These chairs each select a voting panel of 40 – ensuring a balanced selection of chefs, restaurateurs, food/restaurant journalists and well-travelled gourmets.

All voters, aside from the Academy Chairs and Vice Chairs, must remain anonymous. A minimum of 25% of the panel is renewed each year.

Learn more about how the voting works

The Academy Chairs

  • Alexandra Carlton

    Alexandra Carlton

    Academy Chair: Oceania

    Alexandra Carlton has been a journalist for almost 20 years, beginning her career in magazines including Marie ClaireGrazia and Madison as well as several digital news publications. She began writing for Gourmet Traveller's annual Restaurant Guide in 2011 and has been reviewing for the title since. Now a freelancer, she covers the food and restaurant pages for Qantas inflight magazine and writes regular food and travel features for Escape, The Australian, The Guardian and others. She lives in Sydney and travels at least once a month – anywhere from the Arctic to Aotearoa. 

  • Alexandra Michot

    Alexandra Michot

    Academy Chair: France

    Wine and travel lover Alexandra Michot is a food writer with over two decades of experience and a former journalist for the daily newspaper, Le Figaro. As a freelancer, she has written for several French and international magazines, such as L’Obs, Elle, Cook_Ink and Fool Magazine. She is now deputy editor in chief for Elle à Table and is based in Paris.

  • Cemre Torun

    Cemre Torun

    Academy Chair: Turkey, Greece & the Balkans

    Cemre Torun is an Istanbul-based food writer, editor and consultant. She has been the food editor of Vogue Turkey for over ten years and worked as the food editor of GQ and Condé Nast Traveller Turkey. She is a co-founder of YEDI, a conference bringing industry representatives together through food. She has published two cookbooks focusing on regional ingredients and also works as a brand and content consultant for sustainable food businesses and restaurants.

  • Christian Grünwald

    Christian Grünwald

    Academy Chair: Austria, Switzerland, Hungary & Slovenia

    Christian Grünwald has been the editor in chief of Austrian magazine A La Carte for over 20 years, a role that includes overseeing the Österreich A la Carte annual restaurant guide. The co-author of a number of chefs’ cookbooks, he also contributes to the Austrian TV show Frisch Gekocht (Freshly Cooked).
  • Cristina Jolonch

    Cristina Jolonch

    Academy Chair: Spain & Portugal

    Cristina Jolonch is a journalist with more than 25 years’ experience writing for La Vanguardia, one of Spain’s biggest newspapers. She has travelled extensively in Spain and internationally as a writer and editor, and recently co-directed Snacks: Bite for a Revolution, a documentary film about about the gastronomic revolution that took place in Spain triggered by the influence of the legendary El Bulli.
  • Crystyl Mo

    Crystyl Mo

    Academy Chair: China & Korea

    Crystyl Mo is a veteran food writer, entrepreneur and coach, who has been documenting China's dynamic restaurant scene for 15 years. The former Food Editor of Time Out Shanghai, Crystyl has contributed to publications including Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Condé Nast Traveler and The New York Times T Style Magazine. She has been a featured commentator on CNN, National Geographic, the BBC and CCTV. She is also Partner and Strategic Advisor at Bon App, Asia's most popular bilingual social dining app.
  • Daniel Greve

    Daniel Greve

    Academy Chair: South America (South, excl. Brazil)

    Based in Santiago, Chile, Daniel Greve is an established food and wine writer with a career spanning nearly two decades. A professional olive oil taster, he has also been a presenter for TV programmes focused on food in Chile and Argentina, and was a restaurant critic for Qué Pasa magazine until 2015. He founded and runs Emporio Creativo, a food and wine publishing company that produces Jigger magazine, the Nirvino.cl website, as well as recipe books and culinary guides.
  • Ekaterina Pugacheva

    Ekaterina Pugacheva

    Academy Chair: Russia, Central Asia & Eastern Europe

    Ekaterina Pugacheva is the owner and editorial director of travel guidebook publisher Argento Group, based between Moscow, Russia and Prague, Czech Republic. She is also editor in chief of Russian food title Posta Gourmet. An accomplished cook, she studied the science of cooking at Harvard University.
  • Eleonora Cozzella

    Eleonora Cozzella

    Academy Chair: Italy

    Eleonora Cozzella is a journalist with 20 years’ experience writing for the Gedi group’s food websites, a passionate connoisseur of Italian food and wine traditions, and a graduate in philosophy. She regularly writes for Repubblica and La Stampa and acts as food critic for conferences, magazines and international TV programmes. Her books Pasta Revolution and La Carbonara Perfetta (The Perfect Carbonara) won her first prize at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and the Prix de la Littérature Gastronomique. She also teaches gastronomic journalism at LUISS University in Rome.

  • Femke Vandevelde

    Femke Vandevelde

    Academy Chair: Benelux

    Femke Vandevelde is a food and drinks editor and restaurant critic for Belgian publications. She is the author of numerous chefs’ cookbooks and culinary guides, such as the recently published Belgium for Foodies in the 500 Hidden Secrets series. Based in Ghent, Vandevelde also shares a great passion of her region’s heritage as the chair of Flanders Kitchen Rebels.
  • Jamila Robinson

    Jamila Robinson

    Academy Chair: East USA & East Canada

    As food editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jamila Robinson leads a team of reporters and manages its multiplatform food content franchise. She has worked with a number of prestigious news organisations, including Atlantic Media, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the USA Today Network, where she managed editorial strategy for special projects including USA Today’s Wine and Food Experience. Jamila is also the chair of the James Beard Foundation Journalism Committee and serves as the coach and mentor for the JBF fellowship program.
  • Leen Al Zaben

    Leen Al Zaben

    Academy Chair: Middle East

    A culinary entrepreneur from Amman, Jordan, Leen Al Zaben has worked and lived across multiple continents. Introduced to great food at an early age, Al Zaben’s passion and expertise lie in storytelling through food as a means of bringing people together. She practices this through cooking, photography, writing and interactive culinary workshops. Al Zaben previously worked at June, a kitchen technology start-up based in San Francisco, before returning to her homeland.
  • Litti Kewkacha

    Litti Kewkacha

    Academy Chair: South-East Asia (North)

    Based in Bangkok, Litti is a passionate and highly regarded gastronome. Born and raised in Thailand, he has also spent time living in Singapore and the UK. He oversees a range of leisure and hospitality businesses in the fast-casual and fast-food sectors under the Kacha Brothers umbrella, and his family founded and owns the Safari World and Phuket FantaSea theme parks. He travels extensively and has visited almost every restaurant featured on the 50 Best lists, as well as numerous others, sharing his experiences on his popular Instagram account @litsfree.
  • Lorraine Haist

    Lorraine Haist

    Academy Chair: Germany

    Based in Berlin, Germany, Lorraine Haist is an established food and lifestyle journalist. After graduating in law, Haist embarked on a media career that has seen her work across leading newspapers, magazines and digital lifestyle channels. Now freelance, she was formerly a food and features editor at Welt am Sonntag in Berlin and for Elle in Munich. Haist writes about food, drinks, design and jewellery for publications including B-EatSalon and Süddeutsche Zeitung, as well as travelling extensively.
  • Mohamed El Baroudi

    Mohamed El Baroudi

    Academy Chair: North & West Africa

    The CEO of a luxury tea company that exports its products to five continents, Mohamed El Baroudi is based in Marrakech in his native Morocco. For business and leisure, he travels extensively around the world and uses his trips to discover new restaurants and dining experiences. He has a broad knowledge of the food scenes of Morocco, Africa and beyond.
  • Nicola Lee

    Nicola Lee

    Academy Chair: South-East Asia (South)

    Based in Singapore, Nicola is a dedicated food and wine enthusiast and a writer for publications such as Tatler Asia and RadarList. Having studied hotel management, today she is a real estate developer by trade, while also contributing to Tatler’s Best Restaurant Guide for Singapore and various other country-wide food and wine awards. Nicola likes to track down rare Champagne bottles – her personal collection is second to none in Singapore – and has previously lectured in hospitality and tourism.

  • Paola Miglio

    Paola Miglio

    Academy Chair: South America (North) & Caribbean

    Based in Lima, Peru, Paola Miglio is an established food writer, editor and campaigner. She is the restaurant critic for Peruvian newspaper El Comercio and an editor and partner at food site www.eltrinche.com, as well as a co-founder of La Higuera, a database of Latin American women in gastronomy. Miglio also co-edited a book charting the recent history of Peruvian food entitled El Gusto es Nuestro (2018).
  • Per Styregård

    Per Styregård

    Academy Chair: Scandinavia & Baltics

    Per Styregård, an established food and wine writer and author, is based in Stockholm. He writes a weekly column for Swedish business daily newspaper Dagens Industri and is the food editor of lifestyle publication Icon Magazine. He also writes for international outlets, such as Eater.com and Cook_inc. The co-founder of a restaurant innovation award called Circular Gastronomy Challenge, he has previously been the editor of both Swedish Gourmet Magazine and White Guide. His latest book is titled Smakens Makt (The Power of Taste). (Image credit: Klaus Carlander)

  • Renée Suen

    Renée Suen

    Academy Chair: Mid USA & Mid Canada

    Renée Suen is a Toronto-based restaurant and travel journalist and photographer who searches the world for memorable tastes and the stories behind the plate. She is a columnist at SingTao’s EliteGen, and a contributor to Toronto Star, Chatelaine, re:Porter and more. Formerly the food and lifestyle/travel editor at Zoomer Media, she’s best known for her 13 years of food and restaurant reporting at Toronto Life. Known for her insatiable appetite, the former academic scientist has been covering the Canadian food scene for over a decade.
  • Rosa Moraes

    Rosa Moraes

    Academy Chair: Brazil

    Rosa Moraes is an influential culinary educator and online columnist for Vogue Brazil. She has devoted more than 25 years to reimagining culinary education, developing and implementing the first culinary arts degree programme in Brazil in 1999. She is also a passionate supporter of the non-profit organisation, Gastromotiva, which promotes social change through gastronomy.
  • Siddhaarth Jalan

    Siddhaarth Jalan

    Academy Chair: India & Subcontinent

    Siddhaarth Jalan oversees the restaurant, nightlife and hotel sectors for The Times of India and manages the multi-city Times Food & Nightlife Awards, the most prestigious national awards programme for the hospitality industry. He previously worked in the apparel sector and founded his own start-up before joining one of India’s leading experiential dining companies, Impresario. He travels extensively across the country, as well as internationally, and revels in discovering new restaurants and cuisines.

  • Susan Jung

    Susan Jung

    Academy Chair: Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan

    Susan Jung is the food columnist for Vogue Hong Kong. For almost 25 years, she was the food and drinks editor for the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's main English-language daily newspaper. She's the author behind international cookbook Kung Pao & Beyond: Fried Chicken Recipes from East and Southeast Asia (Quadrille, Spring 2023), and also contributed to Signature Dishes That Matter (Phaidon, 2019).
  • Takanori Nakamura

    Takanori Nakamura

    Academy Chair: Japan

    Takanori Nakamura is a leading Japanese columnist, contributing articles on fashion, culture, travel and gastronomy for newspapers and magazines as well as appearing on television. His series in Ryori Tushin Food Journal, where he cooks with top chefs, has been running for over 100 issues and has been published as a book.
  • Tamsin Snyman

    Tamsin Snyman

    Academy Chair: South & East Africa

    Based in Cape Town, Tamsin owns her own culinary consultancy and cookbook publishing company. She is an editor and cookbook author, and publishes the works of celebrated local culinary icons. She contributes to various South African food publications and previously headed up the annual American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards in her country for 18 years. She recently launched Plant-Based Creative, a restaurant consultancy service that assists with introducing special dietary and vegan dishes to menus and produces vegan products available in stores throughout Cape Town.
  • Valentina Ortiz Monasterio

    Valentina Ortiz Monasterio

    Academy Chair: Mexico and Central America

    Valentina Ortiz Monasterio has been involved in the world of gastronomy since she studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris in 2000. With a law degree, she has worked as a consultant in public affairs for 17 years. She founded the online daily newspaper animalgourmet.com in 2013 and set up a vineyard and wine project in 2015 in Baja California.
  • Virginia Miller

    Virginia Miller

    Academy Chair: West USA & West Canada

    Based in San Francisco, Virginia is an established food and drink writer. She grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and New York, before embarking on a career that has seen her work as an editor for Zagat, as national editor and VP for Table8, a critic for San Francisco Guardian and a Time Out columnist, as well as write for numerous international publications. She is equally fascinated by the drinks sector, regularly covering bars, cocktails and spirits for Liquor.com, Distiller and more. She launched her website, The Perfect Spot, in 2007.
  • Xanthe Clay

    Xanthe Clay

    Academy Chair: UK & Ireland

    Xanthe Clay is a Leith’s trained chef-turned-food writer with a regular column in the Weekend Telegraph. She contributes to publications including Good Food magazine, Olive, Food & Travel and Delicious, as well as working with the BBC.
  • Claudia de Brito

    Claudia de Brito

    Academy Vice Chair: Middle East

    A Portuguese-Cape Verdean, born in Singapore and raised in the UAE, Claudia de Brito’s professional journey has been as non-linear as her background. She started her career in TV sales then moved into film journalism before settling on hospitality as her field of expertise. De Brito has covered F&B in the region for close to a decade as the editor of leading publications, including Caterer Middle East. She is now a freelance writer and consultant based in Dubai.
  • Jung-Yoon Choi

    Jung-Yoon Choi

    Academy Vice Chair: China & Korea

    Jung-Yoon Choi is a chef with 20 years of experience working in Spain, Australia and Korea. She was trained at Alicia Foundation and El Bulli and is now head chef of the Sempio Korean Fermentation Culinary Research Center in Korea. She travels around China, Europe and the USA, cooperating with top chefs and gastronomy-related professionals to research on Korea’s fermentation food culture. JY represents the Academy in Korea.
  • Kenneth Nars

    Kenneth Nars

    Academy Vice Chair: Scandinavia & Baltics

    Based in Helsinki, Kenneth Nars is a food writer and the creative director of the World of Mouth app. His writings have appeared in publications such as Gourmet Sweden, Lucky Peach and Monocle, and he has been the editor of food and design magazine Leon. He is also a food reporter at the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE and has featured in TV productions including Niklas Ekstedt Food & Fire, Top Chef Finland and Finland's Best Bakery. Kenneth has written and published 11 cookbooks, several of them award-winning.