Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller are among the chefs expected from the U.S., along with Rene Redzepi from Denmark and others from across the globe, for the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in London.
As many as 40 of the world's top 50 establishments will be be represented at the Guildhall on Monday evening in an event that has become a key date in the culinary calendar.
“I’d be surprised if there’s another event that brings together so many leading chefs in one place at the same time,” said William Drew, editor of Restaurant magazine, which created the awards. “Part of the intention is that it brings so many chefs together to talk about food.”
Redzepi’s Noma, in Copenhagen, won last year, followed by Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, north of Barcelona, which came first in 2002 and from 2006 through 2009, and has been in the top three every year since the awards started in 2002. Adria said in an interview in March that he doesn’t plan to attend this year because El Bulli will close on July 30.
The notion of a best restaurant is problematic, and a list compiled from the rankings of 837 food critics, chefs and restaurateurs may lack coherence. Yet that doesn’t diminish the importance of the awards.
“It’s only a list based on the views of 800 people who eat too much, but they are people who know what they’re talking about,” said Observer critic Jay Rayner, who heads the U.K. judging panel, of which I am a member.
Adria is turning El Bulli into an institute of culinary creativity, and only those invited will be able to eat there.
The only other restaurants to have taken the top spot are Keller’s French Laundry (2003 and 2004) and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck (2005). While I have no idea who will win this year, my guess would be Noma, for three reasons: It’s a great restaurant; Redzepi is a popular chef whose creativity is admired; award voters have been lining up to visit.
If you’re planning on dining out in London on Monday, your chef is less likely than usual to be there. Many attend the awards, and the final of the Roux Scholarship, the U.K.’s foremost culinary challenge, falls on the same evening. Noma’s victory last year underlined the competition’s importance.
“Before then, we often had empty tables for lunch,” Redzepi, 33, said in an interview in December. “The day after, we had more than 100,000 people trying to book online, which is an obscene amount of numbers. We have between 20 and 22 tables a day, five days a week, which is about 125 tables a week times four, around 600 tables a month, times 11, which is almost 7,000 tables, so in one day we could have filled our restaurant for almost 15 years. It was a crazy thing.”
Members of the voting academy are required to have eaten in the restaurants they nominate within the prior 18 months.
The awards started as a feature in Restaurant. Former editor Joe Warwick said he sent e-mails to journalists and chefs to pick their favorite places. That first year, U.K. venues did well: Gordon Ramsay was second and the Ivy eighth.
Here is last year’s Top 50 list:
1 Noma, Denmark (+2) http://www.noma.dk 2 El Bulli, Spain (-1) http://www.elbulli.com 3 The Fat Duck, U.K. (-1) http://www.thefatduck.co.uk 4 El Celler de Can Roca, Spain (+1) http://www.cellercanroca.com 5 Mugaritz, Spain (-1) http://www.mugaritz.com 6 Osteria Francescana, Italy (+7) http://www.osteriafrancescana.it 7 Alinea, U.S. (+3) http://www.alinea-restaurant.com 8 Daniel, U.S. (+33) http://www.danielnyc.com 9 Arzak, Spain (-1) http://www.arzak.es 10 Per Se, U.S. (-4) http://www.perseny.com 11 Le Chateaubriand, France (+29) 12 La Colombe, South Africa (+26) http://www.constantia-uitsig.com 13 Pierre Gagnaire, France (-4) http://www.pierre-gagnaire.com 14 Hotel de Ville, Switzerland (+2) http://www.philippe-rochat.ch 15 Le Bernardin, U.S. (=) http://www.le-bernardin.com 16 L’Astrance, France (-5) http://www.lastrance.abemadi.com 17 Hof van Cleve, Belgium (+9) http://www.hofvancleve.com 18 D.O.M., Brazil (+6) http://www.domrestaurante.com.br 19 Oud Sluis, Netherlands (+10) http://www.oudsluis.nl 20 Le Calandre, Italy (+29) http://www.alajmo.it 21 Steirereck, Austria (+9) http://www.steirereck.at/wien restaurant 22 Vendome, Germany (+3) http://www.schlossbensberg.com 23 Chez Dominique, Finland (-2) http://www.chezdominique.fi 24 Les Creations de Narisawa, Japan (-4) http://www.narisawa-yoshihiro.com 25 Mathias Dahlgren, Sweden (+25) http://www.mathiasdahlgren.com 26 Momofuku Ssam Bar, U.S. (+5) http://www.momofuku.com 27 Quay, Australia (+19) http://www.quay.com.au 28 Iggy’s, Singapore (+17) http://www.iggys.com.sg 29 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, France (-11) http://www.joel-robuchon.com 30 Schloss Schauenstein, Switzerland (New Entry) http://www.schauenstein.ch 31 Le Quartier Francais, South Africa (+6) http://www.lequartier.co.za 32 The French Laundry, U.S. (-20) http://www.frenchlaundry.com 33 Martin Berasategui, Spain (-4) http://www.martinberasategui.com 34 Aqua, Germany (New Entry) http://www.restaurant-aqua.com 35 Combal Zero, Italy (+7) http://www.combal.org 36 Dal Pescatore, Italy (+12) http://www.dalpescatore.com 37 De Librije, Netherlands (New Entry) http://www.librije.com 38 Tetsuya’s, Australia (+21) http://www.tetsyuas.com 39 Jaan par Andre, Singapore (New Entry) http://www.swissotel.com/singapore-stamford 40 Il Canto, Italy (New Entry) http://www.certosadimaggiano.com 41 Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee, France (Re-entry) http://www.plaza-athenee-paris.com 42 Oaxen Krog, Sweden (-10) http://www.oaxenkrog.se 43 St John, U.K. (-29) http://www.stjohnrestaurant.com 44 La Maison Troisgros, France (Re-entry) http://www.troisgros.fr 45 wd~50, U.S. (Re-entry) http://www.wd-50.com 46 Biko, Mexico (New Entry) http://www.biko.com.mx 47 Die Schwarzwaldstube, Germany (-24) http://www.traube-tonbach.de 48 Nihonryori RyuGin, Japan (New Entry) http://www.nihonryori-ryugin.com 49 Hibiscus, U.K. (New Entry) http://www.hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk 50 Eleven Madison Park, U.S. (New Entry) http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com
The next 50: 51 Maison Pic, France http://www.pic-valence.com 52 Jean Georges, U.S. http://www.jean-georges.com 53 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, China http://www.joel-robuchon.com 54 Wasabi, India http://www.tajhotels.com 55 Robuchon A Galera, China http://www.joel-robuchon.com 56 Bras, France http://www.michel-bras.com 57 De Karmeliet, Belgium http://www.dekarmeliet.be 58 Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, U.K. http://www.the-berkeley.co.uk 59 Lung King Heen, China http://www.fourseasons.com 60 Rouge, Canada http://www.rougecalgary.com 61 Etxebarri, Spain http://www.asadoretxebarri.com 62 Tantris, Germany http://www.tantris.de 63 Akelarre, Spain http://www.akelarre.net 64 GasteHaus Klaus Erfort, Germany http://www.gaestehaus-erfort.de 65 Bo Innovation, China http://www.boinnovation.com 66 Zuma, U.K. http://www.zumarestaurant.com 67 Marque, Australia http://www.marquerestaurant.com.au 68 Ruscalleda Sant Pau, Spain http://www.ruscalleda.com 69 Chez Panisse, U.S. http://www.chezpanisse.com 70 Quique Dacosta, Spain http://www.quiquedacosta.es 71 Ristorante Cracco, Italy http://www.ristorantecracco.it 72 Pujol, Mexico http://www.pujol.com.mx 73 Attica, Australia http://www.attica.com.au 74 Rust En Vrede, South Africa http://www.rustenvrede.com 75 Varvari, Russia http://www.anatolykomm.ru 76 La Grenouillere France http://www.lagrenouillere.fr 77 Langdon Hall, Canada http://www.langdonhall.ca 78 Les Amis, Singapore http://www.lesamis.com.sg 79 Can Fabes, Spain http://www.canfabes.com 80 La Gazzetta, France http://www.lagazzetta.fr 81 Plavi Podrum, Croatia http://www.gastronaut.hr 82 The River Cafe, U.K. http://www.rivercafe.co.uk 83 Mirazur, France http://www.mirzazur.fr 84 Gunther’s, Singapore http://www.gunthers.com.sg 85 Doce Uvas, Russia http://www.doceuvas.ru 86 Manresa, U.S. http://www.manresarestaurant.com 87 Enoteca Pinchiorri, Italy http://www.http://www.enotecapinchiorri.com 88 Quintessence, Japan http://www.quintessence.jp 89 Restavracija JB, Slovenia http://www.//jb-slo.com 90 Amber, China http://www.mandarinoriental.com 91 Masa, U.S. http://www.masanyc.com 92 Le Gavroche, U.K. http://www.le-gavroche.co.uk 93 Cafe Pushkin, Russia http://www.cafe-pushkin.ru 94 Semifreddo, Russia http://www.semifreddo-restaurant.com 95 Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, U.K. http://www.alainducasse-dorchester.com 96 Cepage by Les Amis, Hong Kong http://www.lesamis.com.sg 97 La Pergola, Italy 98 Le Louis XV, France http://www.alain-ducasse.com 99 Le Pre Catelan, France http://www.precatelanparis.com 100 Amador, Germany http://www.restaurant-amador.de
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)