At around this time each year, since around about 2004, I, along with my colleagues at Restaurant, have been forced to pause, scratch my chins and magic up a list of candidates for The Lifetime Achievement Award. Given out in April each year as part of The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants it is, as the name would very clearly suggest, about recognising and celebrating the career of an individual who has made an indelible impression on the restaurant industry worldwide.
We're talking about the sort of individual who really means something, both to all of those behind the restaurants that feature in our annual countdown of the world's finest, and to the international band of chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant critics, food writers and serious restaurant enthusiasts that help compile it. Since its inception in 2005 when the award was first picked up by Paul Bocuse, it has since been presented to the brothers Roux in 2006 (who could separate them) and this year went to Alice Waters.
The list of possible recipients, which has just been handed over to the relevant authorities for further discussion and whittling down, currently has four names on it. Beyond that we can't say a lot more at this juncture, except to ask you to trust us when we tell you – despite our favouritism towards one particular candidate and no, it's not Gordon Ramsay – each of the quartet are more than worthy recipients.
That's all, except to tell any of you who think you have a bright idea for who should receive The Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 to send me a (hopefully not abusive) email at firstname.lastname@example.org (you've got about a fortnight). All sensible suggestions will be seriously considered and all the silly ones either ignored or mercilessly lampooned at a later date. Oh, and sorry food historicists and fans of Carême, Escoffier and Soyer et al, this one is about celebrating living legends.