Which Restaurant Was The Lone American Winner At The Inaugural World Restaurant Awards?

Alain Ducasse receives the Tattoo-Free Chef award at The World Restaurant Awards at Palais Brongniart in Paris, France

Photo Credit: Dominique Charriau/Getty Images for IMG

Globally recognized and rising restaurant stars from around the world gathered in Paris on Monday night as the first ever winners of The World Restaurant Awards were unveiled. The glittering awards ceremony was presented by French entertainment icon, Antoine de Caunes, with an audience consisting of stars from around the world, including Alex Atala, Alain Ducasse, Dan Barber, Hélène Darroze, Ana Roš, Clare Smyth, Justice’s Gaspard Augé, Hot Chip and Romain Gavras, as well as respected culinary influencers.

Jordan Kahn receives the Atmosphere of the year award

Photo Credit: Dominique Charriau/Getty Images for IMG

‘Restaurant of the Year’ went to Wolfgat in Paternoster, South Africa; commended by the judging panel for its menu which is ‘perfectly balanced between creativity and accessibility’ and ‘hyper-local’ approach to sourcing ingredients. The remote 20-cover restaurant located on the site of the Wolfgat cave also scooped the award for ‘Off-Map Destination’ – a category that embodies the awards’ ambition to reflect the full breadth and depth of the international restaurant scene.


Photo Credit: Jac de Villiers

The World Restaurant Awards, created by IMG in partnership with Joe Warwick, working with Andrea Petrini, were the first international restaurant awards to implement a gender-balanced judging panel and inspection teams. The awards recognized a diverse range of experiences, from accessible eateries like Mocotó in Sao Paulo, which won ‘No Reservations Required;’ to cutting-edge luxury dining, with Inua in Tokyo welcomed as ‘Arrival of the Year.’

Fabulous fare at Mocoto

Photo Credit: Mocoto

France took home two ‘Big Plates,’ with the ‘Original Thinking’ award going to Le Clarence for exceptional creativity from the kitchen, and the 98-year-old La Mère Brazier securing the ‘Enduring Classic’ award, a category created to recognize establishments that have thrived for at least 50 years in the same location.

Le Clarence

Photo Credit: Hotel Dillon

With a vision to make positive change in the way that hospitality movements impact communities, the ‘Event of the Year’ category was designed to champion worthy, forward-thinking initiatives. This was presented to the Refugee Food Festival, which sees restaurants open and entrust their kitchens to refugee chefs, founded by the charity Food Sweet Food with the support of the UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR.)


The more tongue-in-cheek ‘Small Plate’ awards saw Alain Ducasse collect ‘Tattoo-Free Chef of the Year,’ while Alain Passard took home Best Instagram Account.

Noble Rot

Photo Credit: Noble Rot

Out of 18 categories, The World Restaurant Awards 2019 winners represented 10 countries across four continents, displaying the geographical range of the awards in their first year.


Photo Credit: Anne Fishbein

Only one American location took home an award: Jordan Kahns innovative Los Angeles eatery, Vespertine, an architecturally ambitious four-story tower with a warped steel exoskeleton, that seats only 22 and has its own specially composed soundtrack by the Texan band ‘This Will Destroy You,’ picks up the prize for ‘Atmosphere’

See the full winners’ list below

Big Plates

Le Mere Brazier

Photo Credit: Le Mere Brazier

Original Thinking / Le Clarence / France
Off-Map Destination / Wolfgat / South Africa
No Reservations Required / Mocotó / Brazil
House Special / Lido 84 (Cacio e Pepe) / Italy
Forward Drinking / Mugaritz / Spain
Event of the Year / Refugee Food Festival / Various locations Ethical Thinking / Refettorio (Food for Soul) / Various locations Collaboration of the Year / Paradiso X Gortnanairn / Ireland Atmosphere / Vespertine / USA
Enduring Classic / La Mère Brazier / France
Arrival of the Year / Inua / Japan
Restaurant of Year / Wolfgat / South Africa

Small Plates

Ballymaloe House

Photo Credit: John Beasley

Tweezer-Free Kitchen/ Bo.Lan / Thailand
Trolley of the Year / Ballymaloe House / Ireland
Tattoo-Free Chef / Alain Ducasse / France
Instagram Account / Alain Passard / France
Long-Form Journalism / Lisa Abend (Fool Magazine) / USA + Sweden Red-Wine Serving Restaurant / Noble Rot / UK