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Attica and Brae reappear in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants longlist 2021

But for Attica chef-owner Ben Shewry, the gloss of the global list is worlds away from the reality of a locked-down Melbourne restaurant scene.

Ben Shewry, chef-owner of Melbourne's Attica. The restaurant has slipped from 84th to 97th place on The World's 50 Best Restaurants longlist for 2021. Photo: Colin Page

Colin Page

Attica has once again made The World’s 50 Best Restaurants longlist, coming in at number 97 on the global top-100 restaurant rankings for 2021.

Victorian regional restaurant Brae, led by chef Dan Hunter in Birregurra, also reappears on the extended list, climbing 44 positions from number 101 to 57.

Like many restaurant awards around the globe, last year The World’s 50 Best Restaurants paused its annual accolades as the industry grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic.

But for Attica chef-owner Ben Shewry, the gloss of the 2021 global awards ceremony is still worlds away from reality in Melbourne.

The vagaries of the virus are a real and present danger for the local restaurant scene; on the day of the release of the longlist, the chef is preparing “nacho footy loafs”, in honour of the weekend’s AFL grand final match, for locked-down Melburnians.

“The idea that there’s this awards ceremony is a little bit funny right now,” says Shewry. “Without wanting to sound ungrateful, it’s not our focus at all.”

After a much publicised fall from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants top-50 rankings in 2019, Attica has slipped again from 84th to 97th place in this year’s longlist. It’s a long way from the restaurant’s all-time high at number 20 back in 2018.

When Attica opened in 2005, Shewry admits he placed greater weight on restaurant awards to validate his standing as a younger chef. And though he acknowledges the publicity and foot-traffic generated by the international industry accolades, their shine is dull compared to the more gratifying glory of running a restaurant that serves its customers faithfully, and treats its staff with care.

“What does matter to this day is doing your absolute best, and coming into work everyday and enjoying it, and remembering that your customers are number one, and the people you work with are number one. I was glad I learnt that lesson really early,” says Shewry. “[The World’s 50 Best] has helped our restaurant a lot. But do I think a lot about it or put any weight on it? I’m completely honest when I say, no.”

He says he’s more proud of Attica thriving during Melbourne’s on-and-off again restrictions since March last year. “Attica absolutely should have gone broke, and we haven’t, and soon we’re going to be able to reopen. And that feels like the most tremendous award you could ever win.”

Against a backdrop of diners and readers clamouring for greater diversity and representation of cuisines from around the globe, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants extended list includes more venues from the Asian continent than ever before, including five restaurants from Japan, three each from Thailand and Hong Kong, and one apiece from South Korea and India.

Nine restaurants from Central and South America make the longlist, including Mexico City’s Sud 777 (no. 56), São Paulo’s D.O.M (no. 61) and El Chato in Bogotá (no. 80).

Pía Léon has been bestowed the dubious honour of this year’s Best Female Chef award. The Lima-born chef works across four venues in the Peru capital; two of her restaurants, Mil and Kjolle, make their debuts on the longlist at 90 and 95 respectively.

“I’m happy – after so much work, it’s the perfect moment, the perfect platform to demonstrate that although it can be difficult at times, if you have the will and you know what you want, things do happen, in their own time and at the right moment,” she said in a statement.

Despite its name, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants releases a “longlist” ahead of its top 50 rankings. 2019 saw an “extended” longer-list of restaurants ranked 51 to 120; this year, the awards have returned to its regular programming of longlist rankings from 51 to 100.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 will be announced at a live ceremony in Antwerp, Belgium on 5 October.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021: The longlist of restaurants ranked 51-100:

51 Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo, Japan

52 Uliassi, Senigallia, Italy

53 Nerua, Bilbao, Spain

54 St. Hubertus, San Cassiano, Italy

55 Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York, USA

56 Sud 777, Mexico City, Mexico

57 Brae, Birregurra, Australia

58 Alchemist, Copenhagen, Denmark

59 Schloss Schauenstein, Fürstenau, Switzerland

60 Mikla, Istanbul, Turkey

61 D.O.M., São Paulo, Brazil

62 Mingles, Seoul, South Korea

63 Sorn, Bangkok, Thailand

64 Core by Clare Smyth, London, UK

65 Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, UK

66 The Jane, Antwerp, Belgium

67 Oteque, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

68 Alcalde, Guadalajara, Mexico

69 De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands

70 Alinea, Chicago, USA

71 Vea, Hong Kong

72 Le Du, Bangkok, Thailand

73 Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, Tokyo, Japan

74 Quique Dacosta, Denia, Spain

75 Sazenka, Tokyo, Japan

76 La Cime, Osaka, Japan

77 Willem Hiele, Koksijde, Belgium

78 Brat, London, UK

79 Aponiente, El Puerto de Santa María, Spain

80 El Chato, Bogotá, Colombia

81 La Colombe, Cape Town, South Africa

82 Indian Accent, New Delhi, India

83 Epicure, Paris, France

84 Le Clarence, Paris, France

85 Lasai, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

86 Restaurant David Toutain, Paris, France

87 Ikoyi, London, UK

88 Belon, Hong Kong

89 Amass, Copenhagen, Denmark

90 Mil, Cusco, Peru

91 La Grenouillère, La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France

92 Fyn, Cape Town, South Africa

93 Gaa, Bangkok, Thailand

94 Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain

95 Kjolle, Lima, Peru

96 Astrid y Gastón, Lima, Peru

97 Attica, Melbourne, Australia

98 Alo, Toronto, Canada

99 L’Effervescence, Tokyo, Japan

100 Amber, Hong Kong

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