September 27, 2019

Who cares? The Last Word with Brian McCune


An eagerly anticipated list pinged it’s way into my inbox the other day and I had a cursory glance through it.

Despite what it’s authors thought, I wasn’t really eagerly anticipating it and truth be told I could have made it relatively easily through the day without its appearance. It was The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list…….well actually the World’s 100 Best Restaurants list……well to be more accurate The World’s 120 Best Restaurants list “marking the most expansive representation of geographic diversity we’ve seen during the 18 years of celebrating culinary excellence” commented William Drew from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants organisation.

I commented “Who cares?”

Now I grant you that Quique Dacosta in Denia (don’t ask) at No 81 is no doubt thrilled to feature further up the list than  Brae in Birregurr (don’t ask) at No 101 but in the scheme of things who the hell cares? And more importantly who the hell really believes that you couldn’t populate the entire list with restaurants from London, New York, Paris and Tokyo! It wouldn’t represent geographic diversity, it wouldn’t be politically correct, it would piss off a lot of chefs, sponsors, social commentators and PR people but let’s be honest here, it would be credible.

By the way the good people at Brae may be scratching their heads to figure out who they upset to drop from No 58 in last year’s list to No 101, quite a slump. I’m more likely to scratch my backside than scratch my head because the whole process is a load of bollocks. There is no such thing as the best restaurant , the best chef, the best winelist, the best steakhouse, the best ablutions and so on. These are all flawed, subjective lists compiled by media people for the sole purpose of making  money. They lack credibility, accuracy and in many cases dignity and respect. They have all the gravitas of the various Champions of the World titles awarded by rival boxing associations or the winner of Top Chef 2011. Who cares?

Someone else who might be scratching his head is the guy in Paternoster whose restaurant Wolfgat was recently acclaimed Best Restaurant in the World. Quite an accolade although he didn’t feature in the Top Ten in this list – that’s not particularly strange. But then he didn’t feature in the Top 50, he didn’t win Best Restaurant in Africa (Test Kitchen Cape Town No 44) never mind the world, in fact he didn’t even feature in the Top 120, now that is strange. As a punter I’m really confused. I promised my wife I’d take her to the best restaurant in the world when I won the Lotto of course and before I check my ticket this week should I dream about trekking up  the West Coast to Paternoster or jetting off First Class to the French Riviera to dine at Mirazur? Personally I’m leaning towards the French Riviera because I’ve been to Paternoster, its nice but……..

There has been a lot of talk recently about the pressures of the kitchen and mental health issues and I’m convinced that this type of enforced competition does absolutely nothing to alleviate the problem. Don’t get me wrong, culinary rivalry and culinary competitions are fantastic for the industry but only culinary competitions that chefs can voluntarily enter, train for, compete in on an even footing with accredited judging procedures and not be at the mercy of some bloody half sloshed bon vivant! Who cares? I care.

“Brian owns the Food Biz, a Cape Town based food consultancy, and instead of working spends his time telling other people how to work. Contact him at www.thefood.biz, foodwizard@iafrica.com, 0824929239”

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