Bangkok, Thailand, March 26, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 was revealed at the first ever virtual announcement. The list includes seven new entries and one re-entry, from 10 countries. Two of the top fine dining venues in Asia are missing from the list, namely Mezzaluna and Chef’s Table at lebua luxury vertical destination in Bangkok, both restaurants have two Michelin stars.
When Deepak Ohri, the visionary Chief Executive Officer of lebua in Bangkok, received an invitation to be included in the lists at World’s 50 Best Restaurants he declined.
“There are lots of dining awards, and many of them aren’t credible when it comes to fine dining,” he says. Ohri showed us an invitation from The World’s 50 Best and his reply to the group declining to be included.
After some Michelin starred chefs returned their stars and refused to be included in the red guide, Deepak, for his fine dining restaurants at lebua, is the first to have decline inclusion or any other association with World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Ohri does not want to be embroiled in any controversy and joins the voice of Time magazine who published in 2019 an article with the title “Why The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 List Is More Controversial Than Ever” containing the following statement “…Yet for all its success (World’s 50 Best Restaurants), the ranking has always been plagued by controversy…”.
Some culinary experts questioned as well the latest Asia wide ranking given the current state of closed borders. How did World’s 50 Best Restaurants academy members rank and compare restaurants across all Asian countries? And in this time of uncertainty and anguish, were they able to visit restaurants, inspecting and ranking them? The Michelin guide recruited and trained local inspectors in each country as traveling was not possible.
Deepak Ohri is not like most other hotel executives; he is a visionary taking experiential luxury to a higher level by offering exclusive experiences at lebua. If Ohri is not speaking at Harvard Kennedy School or at IIM Bangalore to deliver keynote addresses he is rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, from Barrack Obama and George Clooney to Tony Blair and David Cameron.
After having faced some criticism in the past, World’s 50 Best Restaurants, in 2019, overhauled its rules to encourage more diversity among the restaurant picks and gender balance among its voting body but is Ohri’s refusal a sign that more changes are needed at World’s 50 Best Restaurants?