The male-dominated 50 best restaurants list has more women on it than ever: five

Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy was named best restaurant in the world for 2018.
Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy was named best restaurant in the world for 2018.
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The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, which is basically a rundown of 50 of the most expensive dinners on the planet, has been announced for 2018 and it’s a predictable mix of familiar names.

Italy’s Osteria Francescana and its chef, Massimo Bottura, are in the top spot again, with El Celler de Can Roca in Catalonia in second place, Mirazur in Southern France in third, and Eleven Madison Park in New York City in fourth.

Five restaurants with women at the helm were named in the top 50, and all-time high. Those are: Central in Lima, Peru by Pia León and Virgilio Martínez (No. 6); Cosme in New York City by Daniela Soto-Innes and Enrique Olvera (No. 25); Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain by Elena and Juan Mari Arzak (No. 31); Hiša Franko in Slovenia by Ana Ros (No. 48); and Nahm in Bangkok, Thailand by Pim Techamuanvivit.

That’s 10% of the total list, which has long been criticized for being a boys club, both in the way the judging is conducted, and in a certain obliviousness on display at the annual awards ceremony. Five spots out of 50 certainly doesn’t sound like parity—particularly when three out the five share a co-chef role with a man—but Eater reported that one of yesterday evening’s presenters pronounced that “It’s all about girl power tonight,” seemingly without irony.

Dominique Crenn, chef and owner of Atelier Crenn, an exclusive, avant garde restaurant in San Francisco with two Michelin stars, was widely expected to take a place in the top 50 this year. She was conspicuously absent.

In 2017 her restaurant debuted at No. 83 —the “back 50” are also tallied each year and released the week before the awards. When Crenn was absent from the back 50 list this year, all bets were on her cracking the top 50. In 2016 she was named the World’s Best Female Chef by the same group, a distinction that many women in the industry, Crenn included, have called condescending. Crenn, along with the fascinating Slovene chef Ana Ros, are both featured on the Netflix series Chef’s Table, along with a bunch of dudes who are consistently in the top 10.

It’s unusual for a restaurant to fall so far in a single year, without closing for renovations—the reason the perennial favorite Noma doesn’t have a spot these year, and presumably why Eleven Madison Park dropped from No. 1 in 2017 to No. 4 in 2018.  “[O]nce a restaurant is on the List, that restaurant tends to stay on the List,” GQ wrote. “In a self-perpetuating cycle, the ranking begets articles begets visitors begets social media begets votes.”