World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards Draw Leading Chefs to London

Daniel Boulud
Daniel Boulud, above, and Thomas Keller are among the chefs expected from the U.S. for the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in London. Photographer: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

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.

French Laundry

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)
  2 El Bulli, Spain (-1)
  3 The Fat Duck, U.K. (-1)
  4 El Celler de Can Roca, Spain (+1)
  5 Mugaritz, Spain (-1)
  6 Osteria Francescana, Italy (+7)
  7 Alinea, U.S. (+3)
  8 Daniel, U.S. (+33)
  9 Arzak, Spain (-1)
 10 Per Se, U.S. (-4)
 11 Le Chateaubriand, France (+29)
 12 La Colombe, South Africa (+26)
 13 Pierre Gagnaire, France (-4)
 14 Hotel de Ville, Switzerland (+2)
 15 Le Bernardin, U.S. (=)
 16 L’Astrance, France (-5)
 17 Hof van Cleve, Belgium (+9)
 18 D.O.M., Brazil (+6)
 19 Oud Sluis, Netherlands (+10)
 20 Le Calandre, Italy (+29)
 21 Steirereck, Austria (+9) restaurant
 22 Vendome, Germany (+3)
23 Chez Dominique, Finland (-2)
 24 Les Creations de Narisawa, Japan (-4)
 25 Mathias Dahlgren, Sweden (+25)
 26 Momofuku Ssam Bar, U.S. (+5)
 27 Quay, Australia (+19)
 28 Iggy’s, Singapore (+17)
 29 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, France (-11)
 30 Schloss Schauenstein, Switzerland (New Entry)
 31 Le Quartier Francais, South Africa (+6)
 32 The French Laundry, U.S. (-20)
 33 Martin Berasategui, Spain (-4)
 34 Aqua, Germany (New Entry)
 35 Combal Zero, Italy (+7)
 36 Dal Pescatore, Italy (+12)
 37 De Librije, Netherlands (New Entry)
 38 Tetsuya’s, Australia (+21)
 39 Jaan par Andre, Singapore (New Entry)
 40 Il Canto, Italy (New Entry)
 41 Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee, France (Re-entry)
 42 Oaxen Krog, Sweden (-10)
 43 St John, U.K. (-29)
 44 La Maison Troisgros, France (Re-entry)
 45 wd~50, U.S. (Re-entry)
 46 Biko, Mexico (New Entry)
 47 Die Schwarzwaldstube, Germany (-24)
 48 Nihonryori RyuGin, Japan (New Entry)
 49 Hibiscus, U.K. (New Entry)
 50 Eleven Madison Park, U.S. (New Entry)
The next 50:
 51 Maison Pic, France
 52 Jean Georges, U.S.
 53 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, China
 54 Wasabi, India
 55 Robuchon A Galera, China
 56 Bras, France
 57 De Karmeliet, Belgium
 58 Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, U.K.
 59 Lung King Heen, China
 60 Rouge, Canada
 61 Etxebarri, Spain
 62 Tantris, Germany
 63 Akelarre, Spain
 64 GasteHaus Klaus Erfort, Germany
 65 Bo Innovation, China
 66 Zuma, U.K.
 67 Marque, Australia
 68 Ruscalleda Sant Pau, Spain
 69 Chez Panisse, U.S.
 70 Quique Dacosta, Spain
 71 Ristorante Cracco, Italy
 72 Pujol, Mexico
 73 Attica, Australia
 74 Rust En Vrede, South Africa
 75 Varvari, Russia
 76 La Grenouillere France
 77 Langdon Hall, Canada
 78 Les Amis, Singapore
 79 Can Fabes, Spain
 80 La Gazzetta, France
 81 Plavi Podrum, Croatia
 82 The River Cafe, U.K.
 83 Mirazur, France
 84 Gunther’s, Singapore
 85 Doce Uvas, Russia
 86 Manresa, U.S.
 87 Enoteca Pinchiorri, Italy
 88 Quintessence, Japan
 89 Restavracija JB, Slovenia http://www.//
 90 Amber, China
 91 Masa, U.S.
 92 Le Gavroche, U.K.
 93 Cafe Pushkin, Russia
 94 Semifreddo, Russia
 95 Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, U.K.
 96 Cepage by Les Amis, Hong Kong
 97 La Pergola, Italy 98 Le Louis XV, France
 99 Le Pre Catelan, France
100 Amador, Germany

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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