A world without restaurant awards

The silence from several famous restaurant guides that used to be household names has been deafening of late. Covid is to blame, since although the guide-compilers can get on with their usual tasks, the choice of restaurants has been limited by the pandemic.

The raucous award ceremonies have all been cancelled or are being Zoomed, and without these media circuses the normal functioning of the guides will take a long time to recover.

Nevertheless, The World's 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, will announce its awards live on 5 October in Antwerp, to be broadcast on digital channels.

Can all this ever compensate for the usual real-time events with hundreds of jubilant chefs and restaurateurs throwing themselves around the stage in uncontrolled glee? Not a chance, but it is better than cancelling altogether.

Obviously there have had to be new procedures, the most welcome being the fund of 1.5 million euros that has been set up for helping the hardest-hit restaurants and bars. At the last count 200 will benefit.

As far as most people can remember, this is the first time a guide has actually done something positive to help the trade, rather than just milking it for its own advantage.

There won't be many surprises though, as the winner of the 50 Best Icon Award has already been announced - a good-looking lady chef working in San Francisco, Atelier Crenn.

Erroneously described as a '3-Michelin star chef' (everyone knows there is no such thing, as there are only Michelin-starred restaurants), Crenn has previously achieved the 2016 title of the World's Best Female Chef.