Good Food Blog
Prize idiots?Posted at 12:00PM, 05 September 2008 by Graham Holliday - Blogger
Restaurant awards - those little badges you see stuck on the windows of restaurants and cafes the length of the land - are such a nonsense when you think about it. The criteria are opaque at best and only increase in obscurity when attached to a highly subjective experience such as eating in a restaurant.
How any restaurant can be deemed the best restaurant in the world I do not know. How many restaurants do you need to have tried to make that kind of judgement?
Awards range from the town level to the city, country and world level. Although, how any restaurant can be deemed the best restaurant in the world I do not know. How many restaurants do you need to have tried to make that kind of judgement? However, this week the Wine Spectator magazine awards for excellence went one better, and in so doing epitomised the restaurant award system for what it really is - a cash-making, publicity-seeking cabal.
This week Osteria L'Intrepido (Italian for "the fearless restaurant"), a restaurant in Milan, won the Wine Spectator magazine's award of excellence. However, you'll find one small problem if you want to book a table there anytime soon - it doesn't exist.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Osteria L'Intrepido is in fact the online fantasy of wine critic and author Robin Goldstein. He claims he wanted to expose the "lack of foundation for many food and wine awards". Although the publicity he is likely to garner probably won't do him any harm,
"I am interested in what's behind all the ratings and reviews we read... The level of scrutiny is not sufficient," said Goldstein.
Goldstein created a fictional menu for the restaurant which included a bottle of 1993 Amarone Classico Gioe S. Sofia, which the Wine Spectator itself once compared with "paint thinner and nail varnish." He also coughed up the 250 dollar fee to have his fiction considered.
Despite the fee, the magazine says not all the applicants for the excellence award make the final cut,
"This year, nearly 4,500 restaurants spent 250 dollars each to apply or reapply for the Wine Spectator award, and all but 319 won the award of excellence or some greater kudos."
If an imaginary restaurant can make the grade, it does make you wonder just how good the 319 that didn't are...