Ben Shewry's Attica in Melbourne is the 20th best restaurant in the world

SuppliedBen Shewry from Attica in Melboune.
  • 20th is the best placing by an Australian restaurant in a decade.
  • Italian restaurant Osteria Francescana returned to No. 1.
  • Attica is the only Australian restaurant in the top 50.
  • The awards have been criticised for lacking female representation.

  • Ben Shewry’s suburban Melbourne fine diner, Attica, has jumped 12 places to 20th on the World’s 50 Best restaurants list.

    Attica is the only Australian restaurant to feature on the 50 best, but the dramatic climb suggests last year’s decision by Tourism Australia to invest $800,000 in hosting the awards in Melbourne has paid off in part.

    The list was announced in Bilbao, Spain, overnight.

    Speaking to Business Insider from Spain, Shewry said it “feels pretty amazing” to achieve Attica’s highest ranking in six years on the list, having made its debut in 2013 at 21.

    “I’m incredibly proud of our team,” he said.

    “It’s such a huge honour to represent Australia at the World’s 50 Best and I’m lucky to run a restaurant in a country with a dining public that allows a small business to grow and evolve over time.”

    Attica also takes out the title of best restaurant in Australasia.

    After being named number one in 2016, only to cede top spot to New York’s Eleven Madison Park last year, Massimo Bottura’s avant-garde eatery, Osteria Francescana, in Modena, Italy, regained its cool, and was named the world’s best restaurant again in 2018.

    Catalonia’s El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, twice a previous winner, took out second spot and Mirazur on the French Riviera, is at No. 3. After closing for a third of 2017 for renovations, Eleven Madison Park slipped to No. 4.

    Noma, another former world’s best, was notably absent from the 2018 list, having not reopened at its new location until after voting had closed.

    Attica’s performance by an Australian restaurant in nearly a decade (in 2009, Tetsuya’s featured at 17), although it’s once again the sole national flagbearer in the list. Dan Hunter’s regional Victorian fine diner, Brae, appeared on the list at 44 in 2017, but last week fell out of the top 50, down 14 places to 58 this year.

    Tourism Australia Managing director John O’Sullivan said Shewry’s passion and advocacy in telling the country’s food and wine story was something for which he’s indebted.

    “Ben and Attica personify so perfectly the true essence of what makes the experience of eating and drinking in Australia so distinctive and unique – that wonderful interconnectedness of people, produce and place,” he said.

    “The global exposure through hosting last year’s awards and the efforts of talented chefs such as Ben have undoubtedly played a part in what is, I think, a new found appreciation by international visitors of Australia’s food and wine offering.”

    Shewry’s rise in the ranking will undoubtedly increase demand from diners, especially overseas visitors, to eat there.

    What started out as a small roundup of where English chefs liked to eat in 2002 for a London trade magazine has become a global phenomenon with people from around the planet flocking to the winners for culinary bragging rights.

    Expat Australian chef Brett Graham’s London restaurant, The Ledbury, slipped 15 places this year, but still made the cut at No. 42, while Thai culinary guru, David Thompson, now present in Australia through his Long Chim eateries, received a final farewell to his Bangkok hotel restaurant, Nahm, featuring at No. 49, a drop of 21 places on 2017.

    Thompson parted ways with Nahm in April and it’s now run by Pim Techamuanvivit, one of the few female chefs to make a list many critics see as being too much of a boy’s club.

    Just 10% of the restaurants on the 50 Best are run by women – chef Pim’s appearance helped increased the number from three to five this year, with three, including Arzak’s Elena Arzak, Central’s Pia León, and Cosme’s Daniela Soto-Innes listed as co-chefs alongside a male counterpart.

    But this year’s “best female chef”, London’s Clare Smyth of Core, failed to make the top 100, and the 2016 recipient, Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn, was also MIA. A critic of the award and the culture, Crenn made her feelings known on Instagram just before the list was announced with a quote by English film director Lucy Walker.

    One of the notable high fliers in 2018 is Victor Arguinzoniz’s Basque country restaurant, Asador Etxebarri, not far from where this year’s awards were held, where everything is cooked over wood-fired grills.

    Asador Etxebarri has seen mixed fortunes on the list in recent years, falling in and out of the top 50, but today is at No. 10.

    Australian chef Lennox Hastie, now running a Sydney restaurant of a similar ilk, Firedoor in Surry Hills, spent several years as sous chef to Arguinzoniz.

    Disfrutar in Barcelona, run by three chefs from the former no. 1, El Bulli, was the highest new entry at 18.

    Around 1000 people involved in the hospitality sector globally vote in the awards.

    Here’s the full 50 Best for 2018.

  • 1. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy

    2. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain

    3. Mirazur, Menton, France

    4. Eleven Madison Park, New York, USA

    5. Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand

    6. Central, Lima, Peru

    7. Maido, Lima, Peru

    8. Arpège, Paris, France

    9. Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain

    10. Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain

    11. Quintonil, Mexico City, Mexico

    12. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Tarrytown, USA

    13. Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico

    14. Steirereck, Vienna, Austria

    15. White Rabbit, Moscow, Russia

    16. Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy

    17. Den, Tokyo, Japan

    18. Disfrutar, Barcelona, Spain

    19. Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark

    20. Attica, Melbourne, Australia

    21. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris, France

    22. Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan

    23. Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy

    24. Ultraviolet, Shanghai, China

    25. Cosme, New York, USA

    26. Le Bernardin, New York, USA

    27. Boragò, Santiago, Chile

    28. Odette, Singapore

    29. Alléno Paris at Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris, France

    30. D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil

    31. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain

    32. Tickets, Barcelona, Spain

    33. The Clove Club, London, UK

    34. Alinea, Chicago, USA

    35. Maaemo, Oslo, Norway

    36. Reale, Castel di Sangro, Italy

    37. Restaurant Tim Raue, Berlin, Germany

    38. Lyle’s, London, UK

    39. Astrid Y Gastón, Lima, Peru

    40. Septime, Paris, France

    41. Nihonryori Ryugin, Tokyo, Japan

    42. The Ledbury, London, England

    43. Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain

    44. Mikla, Instanbul, Turkey

    45. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, England

    46. Saison, San Francisco, USA

    47. Schloss Schauenstein, Fürstenau, Switzerland

    48. Hiša Franko, Kobarid, Slovenia

    49. Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand

    50. The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa

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