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.
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.
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 TravellerTurkey. 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Academy Chair: Italy
Eleonora Cozzella is the editor of all the food and wine websites in the L’Espresso Editorial Group. She also collaborates on articles for the weekly magazine, L’Espresso, and is a critic on Italy’s leading restaurant guide of the same name.
Academy Chair: South-East Asia (South)
Based in Singapore, Evelyn is a former Zagat editor who contributes to numerous premium publications including The New York Times, CNN Travel, SCMP, CNBC and Fine Dining Lovers, as well as writing her own well-established blog, Bibik Gourmand. She is also the Singapore destination expert for Telegraph Travel and a contributing editor of Where Chefs Eat and 12f Singapore.
Academy Chair for: 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.
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.
Acting Academy 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.
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.
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.
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-Eat, Salon and Süddeutsche Zeitung, as well as travelling extensively.
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.
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).
Academy Chair: Oceania, Australia & New Zealand
Pat Nourse is a freelance food and drink journalist. Based in Sydney, he has reviewed restaurants for a living for 17 years. He was managing editor and chief restaurant critic for Gourmet Traveller and edited the magazine’s national restaurant guide for 14 years.
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 the food editor for blogTO, a columnist at SingTao’s EliteGen, a contributor to the Toronto Star, Chatelaine and more, including 13 years of food and restaurant reporting for Toronto Life. Known for her insatiable appetite, the former academic scientist has been covering the Canadian food scene for over a decade.
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.
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.
Academy Chair: Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan
Susan Jung was born in California and moved to Hong Kong to work as a pastry chef before being offered a job at the South China Morning Post, where she reviews restaurants and writes weekly columns on cooking and the Hong Kong food scene. Her cookbook, A Celebration of Food, was published in 2012.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.