Dan Hunter opened Brae after voting closed for this year's World's 50 Best awards. Photo: Julian Kingma
Though no Australian restaurant rose in the rankings of this year's World's 50 Best list, potentially the biggest loser, given the list's ability to lift a restaurant's profile, was Dan Hunter, whose ambitious Victorian rural fine diner, Brae, opened after voting for this year's list closed.
Critics have noted Hunter probably deserved to have made the list for the work he did at his previous restaurant, The Royal Mail in the remote western Victorian town of Dunkeld, but that in recent years too few voters had been able to make the journey there. The Royal Mail held three-hat status in The Age Good Food Guide under Hunter. He had formerly been head chef at Spain's Mugaritz, which has regularly made the list's top four, this year ranking sixth.
Hunter's new restaurant, in Birregurra, west of Geelong, opened in December 2013. It offers a degustation menu drawing heavily on its own kitchen gardens for $180 per person.
The list routinely overlooks other restaurants that rank alongside Attica with three hats in Fairfax's Good Food Guides. These include Sydney's Sepia and Melbourne's Vue de Monde and Flower Drum. The latter two appeared on the list in its early years.
The list was founded by Restaurant magazine and has become a rival to Michelin for its recognition of what's hot as well as what's good. It has made celebrities of chefs like Rene Redzepi and Andoni Aduriz, and created destination restaurants around the world, scattered from Sao Paolo in Brazil to remote Faviken, Sweden.
Brett Graham, chef of London's The Ledbury, became the highest-ranked Australian on the list, with his restaurant coming in at No. 10. David Thompson's Bangkok restaurant Nahm, won him a position as the second-highest ranked Australian chef, at No. 13.
Movements on the list have become a favourite talking point among restaurant spotters. Australians have been ardent followers of the list, and regular patrons of the top ranked. When Fairfax Media visited Spain's Mugaritz in 2012, there were three tables of Australians there on a single evening, and an Avis employee in San Sebastian, home of several top 100-listed restaurants, revealed seven out of every 10 car bookings the office handled that summer were from Australians.
Quay's loss of its top 50 spot, falling to 60 (it ranked 48th on last year's list ) and Momofuku Seiobo's disappearance from the top 100 altogether (it was 89th last year) were notable among Australian movements.
Janne Apelgren is editor of The Age Good Food Guide.