For 20 years, World’s 50 Best celebrated the hospitality industry with annual rankings of the finest restaurants and bars on the planet. Now the UK-based organization is looking for future stars in the gastronomical galaxy with a new list—50 Next.
And if this inaugural list is any indication, the future is looking mighty bright and quite diverse—much more so than many of the other awards. Out of more than 700 candidates in the pool, results have yielded more women (twenty-four) than men (nineteen), all spread across seven categories within the industry: game changing producers, tech disruptors, empowering educators, entrepreneurial creatives, science innovators, hospitality pioneers, and trailblazing activists.
“50 Next invited applications and nominations at the end of 2020,” says William Drew, director of content for 50 Best. “We then teamed up with the trusted experts at the internationally renowned Basque Culinary Center to identify the strongest candidates from the application pool, as well as directly scouting for talent. Robust research and analysis was performed on all candidates to create the list.”
This new list, which was open to all applicants aged 35 and under, also considered those who were starting anew. Five recipients are based in Africa, six are in Asia, one is in the Caribbean, eighteen are in Europe, seven are in Latin America, two are in the Middle East, three are in Australasia, and eight are in the United Stated. And while 29 countries of residence are represented, the list makes it a point to highlight the 34 countries of origin—because many young innovators have left their home countries to settle hubs.
“We felt that it simply makes sense to present this list unranked and divided into seven categories. The breadth of disciplines and projects that these talented individuals are involved in—while all related to gastronomy in its widest sense—is so diverse that to rank them would feel arbitrary,” says Drew. “While the annual rankings of restaurants and bars remain at the core of what 50 Best does, the organization has moved beyond rankings in multiple ways, from 50 Best Discovery to 50 Best Explores, from its ongoing digital content to 50 Next. So, the aim is that in 2022 there will be a second edition of 50 Next with a completely fresh list of 50 names.”
Beyond that, the list is unranked. A brilliant move on the part of 50 Best, which is known for its rigorous rankings. This way you see every aspect of the food industry plus all of the characters that make this whole ecosystem work, not just the chefs. You’ll be delighted to see that the men and women who make your cheese, spirits educators, an organic winemakers, and a chemical engineer who is now the first female master distiller in Kentucky made the cut.
Here, a full list of the recipients.
The Hospitality and Culinary World’s Inaugural List of 50 Next Trailblazers Announced
Manuel Choqque, 33 (Cusco, Peru): This Peruvian farmer makes rosé, white, red, and orange wines from indigenous Peruvian potatoes.
Clara Diez, 29 (Madrid, Spain): Diez is a cheese activist who champions cheese historians, scientists, farmers, and producers—and works with a fashion designer to make ‘cheese inspired’ bags.
Marianne Eaves, 34 (Lexington, U.S.A): Eaves is a chemical engineer, now the first female master distiller in Kentucky, creating new “dark spirit” flavors. She is also part of a traveling circus caravan.
Mark Emil Hermansen, 35 (Copenhagen, Denmark): Hermansen uses endemic flora, spice, grain, herbs and yeast, double-fermentation, -5C distillation and boiling vacuums to create unprecedented new flavored spirits. He also sets up co-ops in Mexico for Ayuuk farmers, and in Zimbabwe for local women producing organic mushrooms off coffee and cotton waste.
Louise Mabulo, 22 (San Fernando, Philippines): Mabulo is a chocolate expert who saw how Cacao plants survived a typhoon better than other crops and now helps 200 famers with production, planting, farming, stopping deforestation and water preservation.
Josh Niland, 32 (Sydney, Australia): Niland is a butcher and chef, who found comfort in food when seriously sick as a child, resulting in a career in food. He’s now on a ‘nose-to-tail fin’ mission showing how to use the whole fish to cook with and how to eat lesser-known species.
Jennifer Rodriguez, 34 (Mesitas del Colegio, Colombia): Rodriguez is a cook passionate about preserving the rural identity of ancestral rural Colombian cuisine who also developed a range or artisanal breads to deliver to locals during the pandemic.
Gian Marco Viano, 34 (Carema, Italy): Viano is an Italian organic winemaker using algae, essential oils and orange blossom rather than pesticides to strengthen his vines.
Mikel Zapiain, 30 and Ion Zapiain, 33 (San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain): These brothers from a family of cider-makers (dating back to 1595) freezing the apples when they are still on the tree to create a natural fermentation process who aim to make cider the coolest drink of the 21st century.
Katerina Axelsson, 29 (San Luis Obispo, CA, U.S.A; from Russia): Axelsson is a chemist who developed a database of wine chemistry, taught a computer how to taste wine and now uses this AI to predict consumer wine preferences, which wines will be successful and, next stage, to pair wine with food.
Matias Muchnick, 32 (New York, NY, U.S.A; from Chile): Muchnick is an entrepreneur who uses an algorithm to analyze the molecular structure, taste, smell and texture of animal-based food and replicates it with plant based-food. Jeff Bezos is an investor in his company.
Solveiga Pakštaitė, 28 (London, UK; from Lithuania): Pakštaitė is an industrial designer who designed new food packaging with reactive “bumps” to signal when food is off. Originally designed for the visually impaired, it’s proving more accurate than sell-by dates.
Jonathan Ng, 30 (Singapore): Ng is an upcycling evangelist who has made the 1st alcoholic drink from soy whey (a tofu by-product) and is also making other foods from by-products that otherwise go to waste.
Abby Rose, 33 (London, UK and Maule, Chile): Rose is a former math and physics teacher who created an application that scans olive tree ID tags to establish frost damage and other data. She also created applications for farmer worker management and soil monitoring. She cofounded Farmerama Radio that gives voice to small scale farmers.
Isaac Sesi, 28 (Kumasi, Ghana): Sesi is an electrical engineer who invented a grain moisture meter called GrainMate to reduce harvest losses, and who helps empower African farmers with affordable technologies.
Mariana Aleixo, 33 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): Aleixo is a favela-born Brazilian using gastronomy and cookery courses to empower women in Brazil’s favelas to help the fight for rights and food security. She has also created a Women’s House to protect women facing violence.
Cherrie Atilano, 35 (Makati City, Philippines): With a degree in agriculture, a Atilano is a Filipino who believes her nations famers are world class. She is on a mission to empower them with sustainable farming, fishing, and community-based tourism by putting women at the centre of the movement. She is also a UN Global Food Systems Champion.
Josh Gilbert, 29 (Gloucester, Australia): Gilbert is a Worimi native Australian ensuring Aboriginal people have a seat at the policy making table by using ancient wisdom and applying it to modern farming methods and helping to fight climate change in the process.
Siddhi Karnani, 30 and Anurag Agarwal, 34 (Siliguri, India): These two Indian entrepreneurs who support 2,000 small farmers with educational workshops whilst redefining how spices are processed by using innovative dehydration technology replacing traditional sun-drying methods.
Ievgen Klopotenko, 34 (Kiev, Ukraine): This Ukrainian MasterChef winner (2015) is now training the government and schools to eat better with a new cookery manual while reviving historic recipes from 100 years ago.
Dieuveil Malonga, 29 (Kigali, Rwanda; from Congo): Malonga is the founder of Chefs in Africa, which gives a voice to over 4,000 young chefs (supported by UNESCO and WTO), now creates afro-fusion cooking from his time living in both Germany and Congo.
Maureen Muketha, 25 (Nairobi, Kenya): Muketha is a nutritionist who is educating women cooking for families and feeding communities to help mitigate malnutrition in Kenya. She also teaches “sack farming” where growbags with seeds are supplied to areas of drought.
Edward Mukiibi, 34 (Mukono Town, Uganda): Mukiibi is an educator teaching agriculture, creating income-generating gardens in schools, and redefining this as a dignified and profitable career (aiming to reduce rural migration). As director of Slow Food Uganda, he helps youth connect with local and traditional food.
Ted Rosner, 33 and Max Dubiel, 33 (London, UK; from UK and Germany, respectively): These St. Andrew’s University graduates now offer barista training classes for prisoners under the name Redemption Roasters. They have eight barista academies and five roasting facilities for those in the penal system.
Ata Cengiz, 28 (Istanbul, Turkey): Cengiz is the son of a five-century farming family who developed a website where Turks can own a tree and track its growth, location, temperature, humidity status, irrigation, fertilization and pre-harvest countdown. This all helps support small farmers and connects the farm with the consumer.
Jon Gray, 35 (New York, NY U.S.A.): Gray is the founder of Ghetto Gastro in the Bronx aims to show the “hood is good.” He uses food to talk about race, inequality, and inclusiveness and challenges people’s image of the Bronx to empower black and brown communities. He has worked with Apple, Bank of America and Cartier to further spread his messages.
Sana Javeri Kaori, 27 (Oakland, CA, U.S.A; from India): The owner of an online spice-importing business selling spices such as chillies, turmeric and cumin direct from Indian farmers to U.S-based buyers, with the aim of getting the best price for the farmer to help decolonize the spice trade.
Adelaide Lala Tam, 27 (Rotterdam, Netherlands; from Hong Kong): Tam is an artist who uses meat product—such as bovine paperclips—to make us re-think our relationship with food. Everyday stationary items made from animal means the object is a reminder of the animal’s loss of life. She aims for a nuanced understanding of our dependency on farmed animals.
Divya Mohan, 29 (Lund, Sweden; from India): Mohan is a Bangalore-born biotechnologist making edible straws from chocolate and cinnamon, with more flavors in the pipeline. Using her masters in food innovation and product design she aims to link innovation and sustainability.
Thiago Vinícius De Paula Da Silva, 32 (São Paulo, Brazil): He is a Brazilian who grew up in crime-ridden suburbs now transforming communities via food and culture as he turns street trash into useful products and educates on upscaling waste.
Natsuko Shoji, 31 (Tokyo, Japan): Shoji is cake lover (and winner of Asia’s Best Pastry Chef, 2020) who bakes haute-couture cakes inspired by brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel, combining her passions of food, art, and fashion. Her shop (Été) is one of Japan’s most coveted brands.
Maitane Alonso Monasterio, 20 (Sodupe, Basque Country, Spain): She is a medical student who stumbled across a way to preserve food (with treated air that reduced odor-making micro-organisms) while working on a science fair project which helped reduce the odor from her brother’s shoes!
Leah Bessa, 30 (Cape Town, South Africa): Bessa is the founder of Gourmet Grubb and Entomilk (milk made from farmed black soldier flies) which use insects as a food source as they don’t produce greenhouse gases like agricultural animals and are more water and energy efficient in production.
Kisum Chan, 22; Lincoln Lee, 23; Zheyi Chia, 22; and Jonathan Ong, 24 (London, UK; from Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia—respectively): The founders of Rice Inc provide revolutionary rice dryers and knowledge on sustainable farming so less grain is wasted and smallholder farmers (who produce 70% of the world’s rice) are supported.
Marc Coloma, 29 (Barcelona, Spain): Colomona is the vegan creating a new generation of vegetable-based “meat” for meat lovers. The meat-like feel comes from pressure, humidity and temperature changes to a mix of soy protein, water, olive oil, salt, spices and vitamins.
Kiara Nirghin, 21 (Stanford, U.S.A.; from South Africa): Nirghin is the Scientist who has created “nappies” for arid land. Using baby nappy absorbent polymer technology to hold water she discovered orange peel has a similar property to these super-absorbent polymers. She has now created a bio-degradable product to revolutionise water conservation.
Leo Wezelius, 23; Angelo Demeter, 28; and Fredrik Åkerman, 24 (Stockholm, Sweden; from Sweden, Romania, and Sweden—respectively): These Swedish scientists discovered that by feeding cows red seaweed and natural bioactive compounds they can eliminate most of the methane gas cows release (which accounts of 4% of global greenhouse gas). By end 2030 they hope all of Sweden’s cows will be eating their food.
Jo Barrett, 32, and Matt Stone, 34 (Melbourne, Australia): The founders of Future Food System aim to grow food without large-scale agriculture by using solar energy and gas from a bio-digester to produce a zero-waste environment. They also developed Yarra Valley Cuisine and are seen as Australia’s most sustainable chefs.
Ashtin Berry, 33 (Chicago, U.S.A.): Berry is a hospitality activist making the industry a fair place to work, having founded many organizations (Radical Xchange, Resistance Served, America’s Table) to support and honor black hospitality workers.
Douglas McMaster, 34 (London, UK): The zero-waste chef is behind Silo in London. Containers are reusable, bags upcycled into colorful plates, no food is wasted with beef coming from retired dairy cows and all left-overs composted. In 2020 he launched the Zero Waste Cooking School with free online courses.
Diego Prado, 35 (Copenhagen, Denmark; from Chile): This R&D cook (at Alchemist–one of the most experimental restaurants) uses moths and silkworms in food by hydrolyzing their silk into a liquid like egg-white, and creating tea from their excrement. He is driven by new discoveries and works with seeds, shells, toxic plants, butterflies, and moths in the kitchen.
Claudia Albertina Ruiz, 33 (San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico): Ruiz is the first indigenous woman to enter the school of gastronomy at the University of Science & Art, Chiapas, Mexico she promotes local food culture, trains indigenous youth, and speaks out against sexism, racism and stereotypes and is an active Slow Food promoter. She also runs a soup kitchen for those in need.
David Zilber, 35 (Copenhagen, Denmark; from Canada): The former head of fermentation at Noma now works for a bioscience company to push the boundaries of fermentation and microbiology to discover new flavors, edible experiences, and crops.
Marsia Taha, 32 (La Paz, Bolivia; from Bulgaria): The head chef at Gustu in La Paz aims to make Bolivian gastronomy a force for socio-economic development. She founded a group of chefs, biologists, ethnobotanists, agronomists, and scientists to better research and understand Bolivian food heritage.
Jamie Crummie, 29 and Lucie Basch, 29 (London, UK and New York, U.S.A.; from London and Paris—respectively): A lawyer and an engineer who created an application (Too Good to Go) that connects consumers with restaurants, cafes, hotels, and supermarkets—allowing them to buy a “magic bag” full of surplus food at reduced price. Now in 15 countries with 27 million users, Too Good to Go is the world’s largest marketplace for leftover food. They also educate school kids on food waste.
Friederike Gaedke, 29 (Berlin, Germany): Gaedke is a gastronomic scientist and the director of Die Gemeinschaft (meaning community). She brings together producers, restauranteurs, artisans, chefs, and students to talk about today’s issues. She hosts farm visits to share knowledge and aims to make food related jobs more attractive for the young.
Bibi La Luz Gonzalez, 33 (Guatemala City, Guatemala): She is a human rights advocate who founded non-profit Eat Better Wa’ik to fight malnutrition. As an international political economist, she organizes education programs, conferences, workshops and is an associate of the United Nation’s World Food Programme. She is soon to study at Oxford University.
Matt Jozwiak, 33 (New York, NY, U.S.A.): Jozwiak is the former chef de partie at Eleven Madison Park and his new endeavor, Rethink Food, collects excess food from restaurants, stores, and corporate kitchens and repurposes it into nutritious meals for those facing food poverty.
Maya Terro, 34 (Beirut, Lebanon; from Ukraine): Terro is the founder of a hunger relief and food rescue initiative called FoodBlessed. This environmental agitator takes unwanted food from supermarkets, farmers markets, social events, and even rubbish bins and transforms it into wholesome meals for those in need in Lebanon, including victims of the recent Beirut port blast.
Jhannel Tomlinson, 29 (Kingston, Jamaica): Tomlinson is the founder of Young People for Action on Climate Change in Jamaica. Tomlinson works with the International Women in Coffee Alliance to build the next generation of female leaders. And by way of her academic research she is finding ways to develop climate-smart agricultural training.