The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards will be held in Australia next year

The Noma team in 2014 after being named No. 1. Source: World’s 50 Best

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the annual awards that have captured the dining public’s imagination and become a global phenomenon, will be held in Melbourne in 2017 in a major coup for Tourism Australia.

William Drew, from World’s 50 Best Restaurants announced the move to Australia next year in New York on Sunday night ahead of the 2016 awards, which have travelled outside London for the first time to the American city.

Ben Shewry’s Attica is expected to feature in the 50 Best list, with Sydney restaurant Sepia also an outside chance. Last week, two Australian restaurants, Quay in Sydney and Brae in regional Victoria were named in the 51-100 list.

Bringing the awards Down Under is the next step in Tourism Australia’s (TA) Restaurant Australia campaign, according to managing director John O’Sullivan.

Earlier this year, TA lured former number one, Rene Redzepi’s Noma to Sydney for a 10-week stint to wide acclaim and global interest.

The national tourism body has focused on Australia’s food and wine industry as a key interest for international visitors and following 2014’s “Invite the world to dinner” campaign, where many of the chefs on the World’s 50 Best list used Australian produce on their menus.

“The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list provides an annual barometer to the greatest food, wine and restaurant experiences from all around the world,” O’Sullivan said.

“Hosting such a prestigious event as this provides us with another excellent opportunity to bring the world’s most influential food and wine people to Australia to inspire, inform and advocate our country’s world class food and wine scene.”

The event also has the potential to bring the focus back onto Australia in the World’s 50 Best list. When it began in 2002, restaurants such as Neil Perry’s Rockpool and Tetsuya Wakuda’s Tetsuya’s – named the 2004 chef’s choice restaurant – featured prominently on the list, but have since fallen from favour.

The 50 Best is compiled from the votes of around 1000 chefs and industry professionals who vote for their favourite places they’ve eaten at in the last 18 months.

Critics of the awards see the 50 Best as a popularity contest that looks at what’s fashionable in global dining. Previous best restaurants include Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in California, which is no longer on the list, and Ferran Adria’s now closed El Bulli. Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, the No. 1 a decade ago, failed to make the top 50 last year, coming in a no. 73.

But the 50 Best is the only comprehensive global list and has turned from an industry magazine idea into a global powerhouse that has the ability to fill restaurants around the world, garnering more attention than the once all-powerful Michelin guides. In recent years it as also introduced spin-off 50 Bests for South America and Asia, although Australia is not included in the Asian version.

Over the past 14 years, Australia has often had five restaurants in the top 100, but this year looks set to have four at best, and perhaps just three.

Attica, Quay, Sepia and Brae were listed in the top 100 in 2015. Marque, which closes later this month and David Chang’s Momofuku Seiobo have also featured.

John O’Sullivan says Tourism Australia will work with William Reed Media, organisers of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in 2017 to create spectacular events showcasing Australia’s food and wine in stunning locations.

Since TA’s Restaurant Australia campaign began in December 2013, food and wine spending by international visitors has increased by more than $1 billion (25%), double the $500 million two-year target.

William Drew from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said it was the right time to make the event truly global.

“2017 in Australia will be the second time we have held the awards outside of London, following New York this year. There’s so much international interest in Australia as a food destination, it’s exciting for us to have the opportunity to take the events program to this unique country.”

On Tuesday after the awards, a dinner showcasing Australian food will be held in New York, cooked by Rockpool’s Neil Perry, and Quay’s Peter Gilmore and Brae’s Dan Hunter — both on the top 100, as well as 50 Best lister Ben Shewry of Attica.

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