Monday 30 April 2012

The World's 50 Best Restaurants

We've waited all year for tonight. No other awards span the entire globe. The World's 50 Best Restaurants list is unique. Rene Redzepi of Noma shared with the audience that this time four years ago he served fourteen covers in his Copenhagen restaurant all day. He now has over 1000 people on the waiting list. Every day. This is the power of the World's 50 Best list.

Ultimately, food will always be about opinion. I'm not a huge fan of salmon. You may love it. I really like a bit of theatre with my meal. You may hate that. Just as explained before the ceremony started, it is subjective. This is not a criticism. Our opinions matter! Let's hope food never comes down to purely numbers.

The World's 50 Best list claims to promote and celebrate brilliant restaurants and great chefs. The amount of chefs in the room from top restaurants was a testament to the credibility of the awards. Forty seven out of the top 100 were in attendance. 

Positions are determined by 800 experts from 27 regions, who review their dining experiences over an eighteen month period. It's democratic if nothing else. No secret handshakes (that we know of).  

Now in their tenth year, the awards were broadcast from London's Guildhall. The Fine Dining Lovers website kindly had a live stream to the ceremony, meaning us mere mortals were able to watch in real time. In our slippers. Some went as far as pyjamas. Really.

The 2012 top ten looks like this:
  1. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark (no change)
  2. El Cellar de Can Roca, Girona, Spain (no change)
  3. Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain (no change)
  4. DOM, Sao Paolo, Brazil (up 3)
  5. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy (down 1)
  6. Per Se, New York, USA (up 4)
  7. Alinea, Chicago, USA (down 1)
  8. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain (no change)
  9. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, UK (new entry)
  10. Eleven Madison Park, New York (up 14)
I was absolutely thrilled to see Frantzen/Lindeberg (last year's One to Watch) jump from 57 to 20. We went in March and knew instantly that it would be a contender (see review). Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was an interesting new entry at number 9, four places ahead of the three star Fat Duck. Is that even possible? The Fat Duck is a British institution! They boast some of the best theatrical performances I have ever experienced, and I've seen Phantom (I'm joking...) However, saying that although the atmosphere is somewhat relaxed at Dinner, the food is fantastic. Is it really in the same league as the Fat Duck though? That pineapple tipsy cake and meat fruit have gone down in legend in our little society... I haven't quite made up my mind there on whether that's actually mental.

Other individual awards on the night included Elena Arzac (Arzac) picking up the World's Best Female Chef and Thomas Keller (French Laundry and Per Se) collecting a Lifetime Achievement award. 

What appears to separate those in the top spots from the rest is the ability to channel their creativity into something different; sometimes every night. At Noma there is no formulaic performance. It depends what has been foraged and indeed what they have dreamt up. 

We were lucky enough to visit Noma in March last year, and have a trip to El Cellar de Can Roca booked, so it will be interesting to see how the two differ in terms of dining experience. The Horwich Fine Dining Society go forth... Next on our hit list? D.O.M...?

Please leave your own thoughts below...

World's 50 Best Restaurants

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