By Mary Anne Evans
It was a glittering occasion last night in London. Where in the world would you get so many top international chefs deserting their kitchens and gathering together in one place at any one time? Names like Joël Robuchon, Mathias Dahlgren from Sweden, Ignatious Chan of Iggy’s in Singapore, Marcus Wareing, and David Chang of Momofuku Ssäm Bar in New York.
They had all jetted in for the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards (co-sponsored by Restaurant magazine, Acqua Panna, Nespresso, Laurent-Perrier, alliance restaurant insurance and Electrolux, with Action Against Hunger the official charity). The ceremony took place in the Masonic Freemasons Hall, a suitably esoteric setting for the best chefs in the world.
So to the winners. But by the time we got there, it was obvious that the two restaurants that have dominated the world’s best for the past few years were still battling it out. At number 2 there was Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck at Bray. And the winner is…of course, who else but the supreme magician of the kitchen, Ferran Adrià whose cooking at El Bulli is described in Restaurant magazine as ‘Cutting-edge ‘ techno-emotional’ Spanish’. Figure that one out if you can. Or better still, go there to eat yourself, though you’ll have to book a year in advance.
So what happened? Well, first of all the UK didn’t do so well. Out went Gordon Ramsay and Michel Roux at Le Gavroche, leaving only 5 British restaurants in the list. Another surprise was the entry for the first time in the list of at 13 of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy where chef Massimo Bottura has introduced a kind of avant-garde cooking not seen in Italy before. Thomas Keller remained the only chef to have two restaurants in the list, The French Laundry in California, which slipped from 5 to 12 and Per Se in New York, which remained at number 6. Relatively little known Finnish chef Hans Välimäki of Chez Dominique leapt from 39 to 21; while the Chef’s Choice went to René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen and he also came 3rd in the list. Does this mean the start of a new revolution with the Nordic and Scandinavian countries coming to the fore? Possibly, but first they’ll have to see off the Spanish who had 4 restaurants in the top 10.
For full results, go to www.theworlds50best.com