SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Another day, another list.
Should the Bay Area be upset only one of its restaurants made the list of the top fifty restaurants in the world – the whole… wide… world?
According to the critics who compiled the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List for 2015, French Laundry, in Yountville is the only list-worthy culinary spot in Northern California, and it’s number 50. Yes, 50… as in F-I-F-T-Y… after all the other 49.
Perhaps the Bay Area should be grateful four other Northern California restaurants are on the second tier list that goes from 51-100. But we’ll talk about them later.
Back to the Top 50. Not one restaurant in Southern California made it on the list — not even the top 51-100 list.
Which begs the question, who are these critics who decide which are the best places to eat in the world.
According to their website, the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Academy determines the list. There are 1000 members. The world is divided into 27 geographical regions to “give it a fair representation of the global restaurant scene,” and each region is appointed a chairperson.
The Bay Area belongs to the ‘West USA and West Canada’ region, chaired by S. Irena Virbila. Scanning the pictures of all the chairs, along with short bios, Virbila’s bio is there, but no picture. Hmmm.
It seems back in 2010, the very camera shy Virbila was the object of a scandalous ‘outing’ incident. Noah Ellis of Red Medicine in Beverly Hills spotted her under a fake reservation, presumably coming to review his restaurant. He refused to serve Virbila’s party, and before she left, he snapped her photo and posted it on Tumblr. Ellis wrote later, Virbila’s “cruel and irrational” reviews “have caused hard-working people in this industry to lose their jobs.”
The L.A. Times responded saying Virbila valued her anonymity, and had worked many years to maintain it. The paper said despite the outing, they would continue to work with her and “consider her to be one of the premier restaurant critics in the U.S.”
SF Foodie John Birdsall would later write Ellis had “crossed the line,” and outing Virbila against her will was a “violent assault.”
Fast-forward to 2015… Virbila is still a critic, eating, blogging and tweeting for the L.A. Times. Despite getting plenty of praise from other restaurant critics, Ellis’s Red Medicine closed down in October 2014.
Who is to say whether any of this has anything to do with the fact that aucune Los Angeles restaurant made the top 50 list, but it certainly makes the list more interesting.
As for the other four Northern California restaurants that made it onto that second tier list, they are:
Saison in San Francisco (56)
Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena (72)
Coi in San Francisco (75)
Manresa in Los Gatos (100)
So…. Northern California would like to thank Virbila, and the Academy. Given the number of restaurants in this big, wide world, it’s still nice to know they think five of the best are in Northern California.