The annual list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants was unveiled in Singapore yesterday, as chefs and restaurateurs, media and industry insiders gathered at the Marina Bay Sands to see who would take top honours this year.
While René Redzepi’s ‘new’ Noma was the frontrunner for the #1 spot, it was Mirazur — an idyllic restaurant located on the French Riviera and a mainstay in the top five in prior years — which took the title from Osteria Francescana, following a new rule this year that prior winners would no longer be eligible to place in the top 50, instead entering into a Best of the Best hall of fame.
It was a win for France (the country hasn’t taken the top spot since the list’s inaugural rankings in 2002) and for Mirazur’s Argentinian-born chef Mauro Colagreco, who was particularly emotional with his whole team there to celebrate on stage as he basked in the news of being crowned the world’s best in the same year that the restaurant picked up a coveted three Michelin stars.
Meanwhile, the new iteration of Noma, which was rebooted in a new space in February 2018, came in at a close second, with the seasonally changing Nordic-inspired tasting menu garnering mostly positive critic reviews since it relaunched. The groundbreaking Copenhagen restaurant was previously #1 on four occasions before it closed in 2017, and is now well-positioned to take the top spot in the next few years.
With Eleven Madison Park and El Cellar de Can Roca ineligible for this year’s last, we saw new names joining the top five, with the renowned grill house in Spain, Asador Etxebarri jumping from #10 to #3; while Geranium in Copenhagen rose 14 spots to land at #5. Meanwhile, Gaggan Anand’s eponymous Bangkok restaurant remained close to the top, moving up one slot to come in at #4 this year.
Hong Kong has reason to celebrate as The Chairman catapulted the city onto the top 50 map, debuting at #41 in the world rankings, after shooting to #11 on Asia’s 50 Best restaurants 2019, which was announced earlier this year. The classic Chinese restaurant from owner Danny Yip remains one of the most celebrated upscale Cantonese establishments in the city, championing local produce and renowned for labour-intensive dishes such as the steamed flower crab with aged Shaoxing wine.
Including The Chairman, the top 50 spotlighted a total of seven restaurants in Asia (16 on the long list of #51-120), with Sühring from Bangkok debuting at #45 and Julien Royer‘s Odette jumping 10 spots to #18 (the only Singapore restaurant to make it on the list). Meanwhile, Bangkok’s Nahm and Tokyo’s Nihonryori RyuGin fell off the top 50 this year.
Moving towards greater diversity
The World’s 50 Best has been muddled in controversy — even more so in recent years in the wake of #MeToo — with skeptics raising questions over everything from the lack of gender equality to the obstinate focus on Euro-centric tasting menus, and the ability for any restaurant ranking list, really, to remain relevant in the age of social media. Adding fuel to the debate, Time published a piece just yesterday revealing that the rule to make former #1 restaurants ineligible for the top 50 — a decision the organisation passed off as an initiative to make the list more inclusive — was motivated, at least in part, by a group of top chefs who lobbied the organisation to change their rules, voicing concerns over the detrimental effect to their restaurant’s reputation once they inevitably dropped off the top spot.
While this year’s list might not have gone a long way in rectifying the pervasive issue of gender imbalance on the list (only five of the top 50 restaurants are helmed by women, the same as last year) — there are a few bright spots. Dominique Crenn (a prior Best Female Chef winner who has been critical of the list in the past) finally appeared in the top 50, after ranking #83 in 2017 and conspicuously missing from last year’s list. Meanwhile, regional diversity was celebrated with new countries such as Russia and Colombia spotlighted and Mexico City taking the best restaurant in North America (Pujol at #12).
Announced last week, the long list of winners #51-120 (an extended list in honour of the 120th anniversary of the list’s sponsor, San Pellegrino) included last year’s Best Female Chef winner’s Core by Clare Smyth (#66), along with 21 new entries from 15 countries. The long list is also where Hong Kong restaurants Belon (#96) and Vea (#120) made their debut, joining Lung King Heen (#80) and the newly reopened Amber, which dropped from #56 to just make the cut this year at #102.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list is compiled by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, which is comprised of a 1,040-strong worldwide Academy of voters (a selection of chefs, restaurateurs, food journalists and industry “tastemakers”) who vote on the best overall restaurant experiences they’ve had within the last 18 months. A minimum of 25% of the panel is renewed each year, and the organisation announced last September that they would also be committed to achieving a 50-50 gender balance across Academy voters.
Below is the full list of winners, from 1–50 (restaurants in Asia are in boldface).
- Mirazur, Menton, France (Best Restaurant in Europe)
- Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
- Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain
- Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand (Best Restaurant in Asia)
- Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark
- Central, Lima, Peru (Best Restaurant in South America)
- Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
- Arpège, Paris, France
- Disfrutar, Barcelona, Spain
- Maido, Lima, Peru
- Den, Tokyo, Japan
- Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico (Best Restaurant in North America)
- White Rabbit, Moscow, Russia
- Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
- Septime, Paris, France
- Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris, France
- Steirereck, Vienna, Austria
- Odette, Singapore
- Twins Garden, Moscow, Russia
- Tickets, Barcelona, Spain
- Frantzén, Stockholm, Sweden
- Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
- Cosme, New York, USA
- Quintonil, Mexico City, Mexico
- Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris, France
- Boragó, Santiago, Chile
- The Clove Club, London, England
- Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, USA
- Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy
- Elkano, Getaria, Spain
- Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
- Narua, Bilbao, Spain
- Lyle’s, London, UK
- Don Julio, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, USA
- Le Bernardin, New York City, USA
- Alinea, Chicago, USA
- Hiša Franko, Kobarid, Slovenia
- A Casa do Porco, São Paulo, Brazil
- Restaurant Tim Raue, Berlin, Germany
- The Chairman, Hong Kong, China
- Belcanto, Lisbon, Portugal
- Hof Van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium
- Test Kitchen, Cape Town, Africa
- Sühring, Bangkok, Thailand
- De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands
- Benu, San Francisco, USA
- Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China
- Leo, Bogotá, Colombia
- Schloss Schauenstein, Fürstenau, Switzerland
This article was first published on Lifestyleasia