But who is number one...?
World’s 50 Best restaurant awards
It wasn’t unexpected that there would be a new number one at the head of the World’s 50 Best, the high profile restaurant awards that are now into their fifteenth year, simply a question of who it would be.
Eleven Madison Park in New York has now taken over the crown from Modena’s Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana, maybe a reflection that the awards were held for the first time in New York last year giving the influential international regional chairs and jurors a chance to eat out in and around the city. (Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns was the highest new climber at number 11.)
Elsewhere France and Spain shared the honours with six restaurants each in the top 50 which were announced in Melbourne earlier this week.
For France the winners were Mirazur in Menton which rose to number four and Yannick Alléno whose Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen entered the list as the highest new entry at number 31. Spain had three restaurants in the top 10 though the popular El Celler de Can Roca was down to number three this year.
Hosting nation Australia had two entries, both in Victoria: Attica in Melbourne at number 32 and the newly promoted Brae in Birregurra which came in at number 44.
The highest ranking for a British restaurant was The Clove Club which was ranked 26, beating The Ledbury which dropped to 27 from 14 last year.
Heston Blumenthal was ranked 36 for his London restaurant Dinner but was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award.
As Blumenthal said in his acceptance speech there really is is no such thing as a best restaurant more a reflection of the importance of restaurants in our lives “cooking is part of what makes us human”.
But the judging process which is based on votes from over 1000 chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and high end diners worldwide seems in many ways more modern than Michelin.
The awards certainly have more Oscar-like pzazz. One restaurateur in the top 50 told me that it has more positive impact on business than a Michelin star. The night Noma hit the number one spot in 2010, over 100,000 people tried to book a table.
The scramble for a reservation at Eleven Madison Park will be exacerbated by the fact that the restaurant is closing for refurbishment for three months, though it will be hosting a pop-up in the Hamptons for the summer called Eleven Madison Park Summer House.
The curious thing when you look at the list is how whole countries remain unrepresented. While Copenhagen still shines due to the Noma effect (Geranium and Relae are at 19 and 39 respectively) neighbouring Sweden has no listing apart from Faviken, which this year dropped out of the top 50 to no 57.
There are no awards for Canada despite the huge popularity of Joe Beef, a favourite hangout for many chefs and none for New Zealand – which reflects the focus on fine dining. Women chefs are certainly under-rated and under-represented.
In the end it depends where the current batch of jurors gets to as it is their ten nominations – six from their own region and four from other regions – that decide the rankings. For them as for the dining public the tendency must be to seek to snag a table at restaurants that are already on the list. But as 25% of the jurors change each year who knows what might happen.
Find the latest restaurant reviews from Fiona Beckett every month in Decanter magazine. Subscribe here.
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