The World's 50 Best Restaurants has today announced that its 2018 awards and event program will take place in the Basque region of Spain, with its flagship ceremony hosted in the city of Bilbao.
The World's 50 Best Restaurants is working in partnership with the Government of Biscay to bring its prestigious events to a region of Spain celebrated for its outstanding gastronomy.
The 2018 location marks a return to Europe for the world's most important annual gourmet gathering, after hugely successful editions in Australia this year and in New York in 2016. The move to Spain is part of The World's 50 Best Restaurants' global tour, which it kicked off in 2016 following 13 years of the awards being held in the UK.
The announcement was made at an exclusive Basque brunch hosted at Eneko at One Aldwych in London, attended by award-winning chefs including Elena Arzak, Brett Graham, Isaac McHale and Eneko Atxa. Charles Reed, Group Managing Director of William Reed Business Media, the company that owns The World's 50 Best Restaurants, was joined at the event by the President of the Government of Biscay, Unai Rementeria Maiz.
William Drew, Group Editor of The World's 50 Best Restaurants, said: "We are delighted to be moving to the Basque region of Spain, and to be working with the Government of Biscay, on our 2018 edition of The World's 50 Best Restaurants. As a country, Spain has long been at the forefront of gastronomy and the Basque region, in particular, has an incredibly rich culinary culture. The area around Bilbao and San Sebastian is famous for its concentration of outstanding restaurants – ranging from internationally acclaimed destinations to its renowned pintxos bars – making it one of the world's great food destinations."
Asier Alea, Director of Economic Development and Tourism, Government of Biscay, said:
"Biscay is a food territory leading a new generation of Basque cuisine with strong traditional roots and a modern global perspective, so we feel it is a perfect fit for The World's 50 Best Restaurants. It is a privilege for us to host these prestigious international culinary awards in 2018, and we will ensure all visitors are made to feel at home in Biscay and the Basque country."
The World's 50 Best Restaurants' annual announcement is a true celebration of global gastronomy, bringing together a unique community of visionaries across the culinary landscape. The awards are based on the votes of The World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy, an influential group of over 1,000 international leaders in the restaurant community.
In 2018, the main awards ceremony will take place in Bilbao, the capital of the Bizkaia province in northern Spain, famous for its food culture, its regional autonomy and the landmark Guggenheim Museum. Associated events that form part of The World's 50 Best Restaurants program (such as 50BestTalks and the Chefs' Feast) will also take place in other locations within the wider Basque region, including nearby San Sebastian, which is home to the Basque Culinary Center.
The region currently boasts four restaurants on The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2017 list: Asador Etxebarri in Axpe (No.6), Mugaritz near San Sebastian (No.9), Arzak in San Sebastian (No.30) and Azurmendi near Bilbao (No.38). Furthermore, Nerua – located within the Guggenheim in Bilbao – appears on the 51-100 list at No.56, while Martin Berasategui in nearby Lasarte-Oria is ranked No.77.
In the 15-year history of The World's 50 Best Restaurants, Spain as a whole has been very strongly represented with both El Bulli and El Celler de Can Roca topping the list to be named The World's Best Restaurant on a number of occasions. Both Mugaritz and Arzak have featured in the elite group of 50 for over a decade.
Eneko Atxa, chef-patron of Azurmendi in Biscay and Eneko at One Aldwych in London, said: "It was an absolute pleasure to host the Basque brunch here at Eneko at One Aldwych. I am very excited that the awards will be coming to my country and even more so to my home city of Bilbao. There is so much diversity to the food culture in the Basque region and it will be fantastic to be able to share it all with chefs, restaurateurs, media and food lovers from around the globe."
Find out more about The World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards here.