Perhaps a slightly different approach might be better in future. For example, I've always thought that if a restaurant like The Fat Duck wins one or two years in a row, it could step aside the next year – so we could see a mixture of places and new restaurants coming through. Winning it once is such a great achievement in itself it is not really fair that places like El Bulli or Heston's The Fat Duck dominate the top of the table year after year.
When that happens it takes a little bit of the shine off the whole thing and perhaps makes it feel less worthwhile.
The judging system all seems a bit random: they just grab you on the phone for a few minutes, so you can list off your five favourite restaurants. When they rang me I had been very busy so had forgotten about the whole thing. I'm sure that's the same for many other judges. I've never been to El Bulli, and I'm not sure how many of the people who voted for it have actually been there either. And of course the whole concept depends of what people mean by their "favourite" restaurant – because that isn't always the same thing as the "best" restaurant.
El Bulli and The Fat Duck really deserve their top places, as they offer a special range of food. Saying that, perhaps it would be nice to see the list broken up a little with some different groups. There is a massive spectrum of food, and a huge difference between say Heston's restaurant and Le Gavroche, for example.
Nonetheless the awards are much improved from when they first started. Then it was the "50 best restaurants in the world" as chosen by English chefs and journalists. The rest of the world's chefs were not very happy at the time.
A friend asked me if I could recommend a place in New York and my first instinct was not to name one of the "50 best," but an Asian restaurant called the Fatty Crab. It's a tiny joint of small tables, groovy music and waiters who look like skate punks, but they have crab in a thick chilli sauce and heritage farm pork ribs which are alone worth travelling to the US for. If I can summon the courage, I'd also say that whilst Restaurant Gordon Ramsay offered a stunning meal last time I was there, it was just too perfect, and managed to lose some of the soul of its dishes.Reuse content