Cover The 2019 edition of the World's 50 Best took place in Singapore (Image: 50 Best)

Following the digitisation of this year’s Asia edition, the decision to delay the 2020 global list and related awards ceremony and events was met with sighs of relief

As it becomes clear that global pandemic will continue to have a staggering effect on the hospitality industry around the world, it was announced on March 30 that the 2020 edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants—originally scheduled to take place in Antwerp, Flanders, in June—would be postponed to June 2021. Rather than continue with the restaurant ranking and award ceremony, the organisation expressed that it would instead look to focusing its efforts on “design[ing] and develop[ing] impactful initiatives that will help the world work together in this time of need”.

The statement, which was published on the 50 Best website, continues: “[50 Best] will also use its network to support and amplify programmes that will bolster businesses, while continuing its editorial campaign to support restaurants, restaurant workers and chefs.” It remains to be seen whether or not the Latin American version of the list, traditionally announced in October, will also be postponed.

(Related: Odette is Asia's Best Restaurant for the Second Year Running)

Interestingly, unlike Asia’s 50 Best, the list will not be unveiled even online—although voting and tallying had already been completed earlier. Speaking to Richard Vines of Bloomberg, 50 Best content director William Drew explained the rationale behind that: “It was a difficult decision, but it doesn’t seem the right time when the hospitality and restaurant sectors are suffering.”

It’s a sensible choice, given that the Asia edition was already met with some derision for going ahead instead of being cancelled or postponed; the organisation justified the earlier decision by citing that many in Asia’s restaurant industry requested that the show go on despite the current situation. It can only be presumed that there was not the same level of encouragement from the industry around the world as the situation in countries where restaurants have traditionally done well in the list—from America to Italy—continues to worsen daily and survival takes precedent.

Over on Instagram, chefs and food lovers peppered the announcement with encouragement and reams of heart and hand-clapping emojis, including Rene Redzepi of Noma, whose restaurant ranked #2 on the list last year and is currently closed until April 14 following last month’s surge in cases around Denmark.

In the meantime, 50 Best—much like platforms such as Tatler Dining and other food media—have turned their focus on spotlighting the ways that the hospitality industry are finding their feet and helping each other adjust to the new normal. In 2021, the restaurant world may be very different to what it was before the pandemic hit—and no doubt there will be many regrettable casualties along the way. It remains to be seen whether or not the awards will ever return in the same format once we come out the other side.

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