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The World’s 50 Best addresses gender disparity

After facing criticism for its Eurocentric, male dominated list, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants director Hélène Pietrini has penned an open letter outlining plans to be more proactive on gender diversity.

“I am the director of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants – and I am a woman,” she said. So far so good. “In fact, the majority of the team behind the lists and awards is female. In addition, of the 26 Academy Chairs who oversee the global voting panel for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, half are women.”

Brilliant – job done you’d have thought. And this is where it gets complicated. Only four restaurants on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list this year are led by women.

“Were we actively to manipulate the make-up of the list (which is the result of the votes of over 1000 experts worldwide), then we would instantly alter its central principle: that the voters select what they judge to have been their best dining experiences.

“As a result, the authenticity and credibility of the list and the 50 Best brand would undoubtedly be diminished. We cannot – and should not – control how people vote. Furthermore, we reflect the gastronomic world as it is, rather than as it should be.”

The problem is only 18 per cent of head chef positions worldwide are held by women, according to Parabere statistics. You can draw two conclusions from that. One is that the path to that role is long and arduous and not conducive to taking time off to raise children if you’re a woman. Or secondly, that the industry is horribly sexist and needs to be forcibly made to bring in more women to the top jobs.

This is not an argument isolated to the world of hospitality, as the culture wars echoing through Western countries are currently debating this very conundrum, online at least.

So what is The World’s 50 Best Restaurants going to do? Well it has committed to achieving a 50-50 gender balance across its 1040-strong worldwide Academy of voters. Academy members will also be encouraged to look beyond the current list, to explore a diverse mix of restaurants during their travels and to take issues of representation into consideration in their voting choices.

“While there is inevitably a wide variety of views on exactly how we push for greater gender balance and wider diversity in the restaurant world, we are all essentially shooting for the same goal,” she stated. “We do not have all the answers, but working together we can make a significant difference. I therefore call for a collaborative and supportive approach to these complex issues.”

If you do have the answer please let us know.


Sheridan Randall, 13th September 2018