The organizer of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and Saga Prefecture have together taken the reluctant decision to cancel this year’s on-site event in Japan. After consultation with The Governor of Saga Prefecture, the annual event—which included Jordy Navarra’s Toyo Eatery in its prestigious list—feels it has no alternative but to reformat the awards ceremony and related events on this occasion.
This decision has been taken in light of the ongoing spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has led to severely restricted travel policies across large parts of Asia, and in response to the Japanese government’s advice to limit large-scale events.
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The program of events was scheduled to be hosted in the southern island of Kyushu, from March 22 to 24, and included #50BestTalks, as well as a series of gastronomic gatherings in the region. These will all culminate in the annual awards evening. Instead, a live ‘virtual’ awards ceremony will be held on March 24, full details of which will be communicated soon.
50 Best and Saga Prefecture are no longer confident that they can hold a successful event gathering guests coming from across the world where guidelines restrict travel in the region. The health and safety of all those due to attend also remains of the utmost importance.
“This is an extremely difficult decision for us, as we very much wanted to support the restaurant industry across Asia, which has suffered from the side-effects of the coronavirus situation in recent weeks. But it has become clear in the last day or two that, despite our best endeavors, it would not be responsible to stage our events as planned,” says Charles Reed, CEO of William Reed, the company behind 50 Best. They remain committed, however to announcing the new list, and will continue working to support and promote great restaurants and great chefs in the region, as they have done since they launched in 2013.
“We are also extremely grateful to our host destination partners in Saga for their efforts in preparing to welcome the gastronomic community to their unique and beautiful region,” Reed adds. “We aim to facilitate further opportunities for chefs, partners and media to experience the wonderful food, culture and landscape of Saga in the future.”
Saga Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi says that they have been in close communication with the organizing body, and together “have come to this reluctant decision together in order to safeguard all parties concerned. Given the current situation, and the fact that no one can be sure of how things will develop with regard to the spread of the virus, the decision to cancel the events in Saga became unavoidable. We very much hope to host guests for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in Saga at the next opportunity.”
The 50 Best team has also honored the likes of Vask and Margarita Fores in past events. The organizing body is in the process of planning a premium-level streamed awards ceremony, which all interested parties—chefs and restaurateurs, media, partners and other food-lovers—will be able to experience simultaneously online. Full details will be communicated as soon as possible. Special awards will continue to be announced in the weeks between now and the official unveiling of the annual ranking.