This week the movers and shakers of the Australian culinary scene turned their full attention to Melbourne, when the World's 50 Best Restaurants award recipients were announced. Ripponlea's Attica was named the best restaurant in the Australasian region and also reappeared among the world's top 50 list, however dropping one spot since last year, from 32nd to 33rd place.
But this wasn't the only announcement throwing the spotlight on the nation's unofficial culinary centre - Melbourne is also set to host to the World's 50 Best Restaurants award in 2017.
While European restaurants are no strangers to the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards, Australia has been (very) slowly making its mark on the international culinary scene. Each year, the release of the World's 50 Best Restaurants list is preceded by the announcement of the 51-100 best restaurants, where Brae made the impressive 22-spot jump from 87th to 65th place. But it's not all good news for the Antipodean set as Sydney's Quay dropped a whopping 40 places from 58th to 98th this year and last year's winner of the 'One to Watch' award, Sydney restaurant Sepia, has been completely omitted from the list altogether this year.
While this year's list only featured three Australian restaurants, Melbourne's appointment as next year's host city for the awards might mean that more restaurants in the Australasian and Asian regions will get a look in for the 100 top spots (although there's a separate list for Asia's 50 Best Restaurants). For a restaurant to make it onto the list it needs to have been voted for by the members of the 1000-strong Diners Club World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy, a group comprised of chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and critics, plus "highly regarded gastronomes". Voters need to vote in order of preference for seven restaurants they've visited in the last 18 months, and at least three votes need to go to restaurants outside of their region.
In previous years, chefs have lamented the Euro-centric focus of the awards, attributing the lack of representation from Australia, New Zealand, African and South East Asian countries in the top 100 to the sheer distance from the world's established dining hot spots. But perhaps with Melbourne in the spotlight next year, we could be seeing more homegrown foodie favourites secure a well-deserved place among the world's best.