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El Bulli, Fat Duck Face Challenge: Richard Vines

Rene Redzepi
Chef Rene Redzepi outside his restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. The Danish chef will visit London next month to promote his book about the restaurant. Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg

Ferran Adria from El Bulli, Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck and Thomas Keller from the French Laundry are among chefs expected to attend the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants at the Guildhall in London tonight.

El Bulli and the Fat Duck have hogged the top two places for the past five years. This year, interest centers on Noma, chef Rene Redzepi’s Copenhagen restaurant, which placed third in 2009, having entered the list at No. 33 in 2006. Daniel Boulud of Daniel, in New York, will host a lunch for the chefs tomorrow at his yet-to-open eatery in the Mandarin Oriental hotel.

The award ceremony almost lost some of its culinary stars to the flight ban caused by the Icelandic eruption. Blumenthal was on an Italian skiing holiday with his family in Cervinia and had to cross Europe overland before catching the Eurostar.

Caprice Group owner Richard Caring says his plans for a restaurant on the site of the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden center on “a new U.K. concept.” Speculation in the business is that it’s an outpost of Balthazar, a New York brasserie owned by the restaurateur Keith McNally. Andrew Murray-Watson of Mission public relations declined to comment. He said Caring was unavailable and referred to a statement Caprice released on April 23, confirming the group is submitting plans for the site, on which the owners of the Wolseley had intended to open a brasserie. A call to Balthazar went straight to voicemail.

If you would like to dine in some of the restaurants, the charity Action Against Hunger will auction 40 special dining experiences on eBay, starting tomorrow. Many of the meals on offer will include extras such as private kitchen tours. The link will be

Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, owners of the Wolseley, plan to open a 75-room hotel, with restaurant, on Balderton Street, in Mayfair.

The JW Steakhouse opens next month at the Grosvenor House on Park Lane, replacing Bord’Eaux. The restaurant will feature USDA prime corn-fed Kansas beef, and the signature steak will be a 32-ounce, on-the-bone rib eye named “The Tomahawk.” With Goodman, Hawksmoor, Maze Grill and Palm all packing in the punters, plus plans for a second Hawksmoor and a branch of Wolfgang Puck’s Cut at 45 Park Lane, steak houses look to be the current big thing in London dining. The chef at JW will be Paul Hallett, an alumnus of the Dorchester Grill and Tom Aikens.

Harrods is joining forces with the Thai embassy next month to celebrate that country’s cuisine. The Food Halls will offer a range of Thai ingredients, while Patara and Blue Elephant will offer special menus in the department store’s restaurants. There will also be dancing and demonstrations to whet your appetite. When I say demonstrations, I’m thinking of things like fruit carving, by the way, not protesters in red shirts.

The Anthologist, an all-day bar and kitchen in the City, has opened on Gresham Street. It’s the third venue of Drake & Morgan, the company behind the Parlour, in Canary Wharf, and the Refinery, in Southwark. For information, click on

A restaurant will open on May 10 at Les Ambassadeurs club on Park Lane. The Milroy will be open to non-members for lunch. For more on the club, click

Waitrose will introduce five regional pizzas in June, including the Piemonte, with truffled salsa bianca and porcini mushrooms; Lombardia, with Brianza salami, blue cheese and pear puree; and Calabria, with spicy salami, red onion and fig.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has dropped foie gras from its menu following representations from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the lobbying group said. Bafta’s decision follows a similar move by the BRIT awards, PETA spokesman Martin Mallon said.

The Boxwood Cafe closed on Saturday, six years after it opened amid excitement about Gordon Ramsay’s first casual-dining venue. It was in the Berkeley, one of three Maybourne hotels that hosted Ramsay. Petrus has gone from the Berkeley and Angela Hartnett from the Connaught, temporarily leaving Gordon Ramsay at Claridges as a reminder of the group’s flirtation with the chef.

Chef Tom Aikens is taking over the site of the Admiralty, at Somerset House, and turning it into a Tom’s Kitchen in a venture with Compass Group Plc.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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