The winners of the inaugural “woke” World Restaurant Awards, revealed – and the double triumph of a tiny South African restaurant by the sea

The winners of the inaugural "woke" World Restaurant Awards, revealed – and the double triumph of a tiny South African restaurant by the sea

The inaugural World Restaurant Awards 2019 winners announced yesterday, February 18, represent a total of 10 countries across four continents, chosen across 18 categories.

This new list promises a different approach to the numerous other awards ceremonies on the culinary calendar, and is the first international restaurant awards to implement a gender-balanced judging panel and inspection teams.

“We knew that having an equal number of men and women judging a restaurant awards was not going to change the composition of the restaurant industry overnight,” says Cecile Rebbot, the director of The World Restaurant Awards, “but by giving women an equal voice in the awards we can start to make more meaningful change over time.”

The noticeably “woke” category titles, split between “Big Plates” and “Small Plates” awards, laud diversity throughout – ranging from the worthy to the tongue-in-cheek (think ‘Tattoo-Free Chef of the Year’ and ‘Tweezer-Free Kitchen’).

Creativity has been highlighted with an award for “Original Thinking”, while more humble institutions are celebrated with an award for “Off-Map Destination” – and a candle is held to fine dining heritage with a gong for “Enduring Classic.”

The eagerly anticipated awards were presented yesterday at a glittering ceremony in Paris by French entertainment icon Antoine de Caunes – and attended by a roll call of globally recognised and rising restaurant stars from around the world (the audience included chefs Alex Atala, Alain Ducasse, Dan Barber, Hélène Darroze, Ana Roš, Clare Smyth, Justice’s Gaspard Augé and Romain Gavras.)

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