Listing again

There are too many lists that evaluate everything and anything in order of distinction, whether chain-store sandwiches, dog-walkers, or airport VIP lounges. Indeed, if you have nothing better to do, it may not be a bad idea to find something worth ranking, as it appears there is an endless demand for such pitiful information.

A particular listing/ranking that gets up a lot of foodie’s noses is the ‘50 Best Restaurants’ published by Restaurant Magazine annually. The latest edition is just out, although it is hard to identify its purpose. Michelin and TripAdvisor, both of which give rise to extreme opinions, at least come to our aid when we find ourselves far from home and on the lookout for a restaurant that suits our tastes and pockets. The ‘50 Best’ serves no such purpose.

The latest list features, as usual, top Spanish restaurants El Celler de C’an Roca, Asador Etxebarri, Mugaritz, Arzac and Azurmendi high up the list. But you need to dig deeper to find out that Valencia’s Quique Dacosta has dropped from the ‘50 Best’ to the ‘Second 50’, leaving us guessing why a ‘Top 50’ list features a ‘Second 50’. Perhaps there are third and fourth 50s.

Who benefits from this enormous ego trip? No pretence is made of it being anything other than a publicity stunt on behalf of top chefs and upmarket eateries. Of these, 60% are located in Europe, and feature multi-course tasting menus costing an average of 300 euros plus wine. There is no doubt however that for the lucky few the listing can bring fame and fortune. When Copenhagen’s Noma was nominated in 2010 as The Best Restaurant in the World, there were allegedly a hundred thousand calls to make reservations within the following 24 hours.

So the last word goes to New York chef, Anthony Bourdain, speaking a few days ago about the List in Kitchen Confidential: ‘Everybody is playing along because nobody wants the party to stop,‘ he says. ‘A lot of people benefit from it, but I think most of the chefs know its bullshit.’