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French protest world's 'top restaurant' rankings

The Local/AFP · 2 Jun 2015, 09:36

Published: 02 Jun 2015 09:36 GMT+02:00

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For the third consecutive year France has failed to see one of its best restaurants break into the top ten of the world's 50 best restaurants. 

The crown for the unofficial title of “World’s Best Restaurant” went to Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca at the awards ceremony run by trade magazine Restaurant.

The restaurant knocked Danish four-time winner "Noma" down to third place, with Italy's "Osteria Francescana" taking the second spot.

The top ten was rounded out by restaurants in Peru, the United States, Spain, Britain, Japan, Brazil and Thailand, but none from France.

For a country like France that prides itself on its famed gastronomy – which has been earned itself a cultural heritage status from Unesco – the results will once again not sit well in the stomachs of the country’s top chefs.

The closest France got to the top ten was Mirazur, located in the hilltop town of Menton in the Côte d’Azur, that was ranked 11th.

The Paris restaurant L’Arpège was ranked 12th.

READ ALSO: A closer look at the top five restaurants in France

Although there was some good news for France in that it had five restaurants in the top 50, which ranked it just behind Spain ,with seven and the United States with six.

But in a country that is home to the prestigious Michelin star awards, which have also been subject to scathing criticism, certain Gallic chefs and restauranteurs have criticized the methodology used to select the best restaurants.

An Internet petition against the competition amassed more than 350 signatures, including those of France's Joel Robuchon and Italy's Giancarlo Perbellini, calling for sponsors to boycott the "opaque" awards.

"The jury members, appointed by backroom politics, vote anonymously, without ever having to justify their choice of a restaurant or even to prove that they actually ate there!" the petition read.

The bulk of the complaints against the contest comes from France, which failed to make it into the top ten for the past three years and has never managed to win first prize.

French chef Xavier Denamur dismissed the wards as simple "communication" and told The Local they were no way to judge the quality of French gastronomy.

Story continues below…

To respond to the criticism, a team from 50 Best travelled to Paris last month on a charm offensive.The jury is made up of 972 "independent experts" including food writers, chefs, restaurant owners and gourmets in 27 regions.

Jury members choose their seven favourite restaurants where they have eaten in the past 18 months.

Critics say the system is open to abuse since the jury do not have to offer physical evidence of having actually visited any particular restaurant.

Yet organizers hired the Deloitte consultancy firm to oversee the voting, and say jury members cannot vote on restaurants in which they have an interest.


The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

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