El Celler de Can Roca was crowned the best in the world in London last night at the prestigious annual World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.They may not be the dominant force of World football and Rafael Nadal is struggling to keep pace in the World of tennis but the Girona-based restaurant reclaimed the No1 spot for World Restaurants. El Celler de Can Roca, run by three brothers John, Jordi and Josep Roca, regained their crown from Rene Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen after slipping to second place the previous year.
Noma remains on the podium but have also slipped below second placed Osteria Francescana in Modena. The Italian restaurant run by Massimo Bottura has gained admiration for its inventive mantra and well executed classics such as tagliatelle with hand-chopped ragu.
Lima’s Central, has certainly put Peru on the culinary map, lead by Chef Virgilo Martinez the restaurant claimed fourth on the prestigious list. While there were two other Peruvian restaurants in the top 50 this is the first time any have cracked the top ten.
Making up the coveted top ten are New York’s Eleven Madison Park, Mugaritz in Spain’s San Sebastian and Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner in London, announced in London’s Guildhall.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards have been criticized in the past for favoring established restaurants in wealthier countries. Despite the diversity of countries now included in the competition it seems there are some questions that still linger over the impartiality of the judging process. The awards may reach restaurants in India, Korea and the United Arab Emirates but the judges are more inclined to visit countries able to sponsor trips.
It may be a long time coming for an Irish restaurant to feature on the list which is sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. The Sunday Independent’s food critic Lucinda O’Sullivan has made it clear that she questions the awards validity.
“The more I look at this event year after year, the more disillusioned I get,” Lucinda wrote in 2013.
“Ireland is lumped into the UK region, with little Irish representation on the voting panel. In 2011 I queried with the 50 Best as to Irish representation amongst the then 31-strong panel.”
“Until Ireland gets a fair representation on the voting panel for our ‘region’, it is hard to take the World’s 50 ‘Best’ seriously.”
It has not gone unnoticed also that many of the parameters guiding the judging process are dubious to say the least. French chef Joel Robuchon’s of Parisian restaurant L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon believes the awards yield too much influence and is based on an unfair voting process.
In a letter to The New York Times, Robuchon wrote: “Voters are supposed to have eaten in the restaurants they vote for at least once in the preceding 18 months.
“But no proof of their visit, no expense bill is required, and I know for a fact that this is a major loophole in the process. It gives free rein to the worst maneuvers — cronyism, ‘flip a coin’ voting, geopolitical influence and lobbying.”
On a lighter note Chef Daniel Boulud from New York’s Daniel was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award at last night’s ceremony, in recognition of his progressive work in New York restaurants and across the globe.
Even though the Awards themselves may be under scrutiny it is apparent that the best place to enjoy a Top 50 restaurant is Spain. Joining El Celler de Can Roca on the list are six other restaurants with worthy praise meaning that once again the rest of the World will have to contend with Spain if they wish to claim top spot!
The Europeans Included in World’s 50 Best Restaurants:
El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, UK
Mirazur, Menton, France
L’Arpège, Paris, France
Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain
Steirereck, Vienna, Austria
Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
Asurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
The Ledbury, London, Britain
Le Chateaubriand, Paris, France
Fäviken Järpen, Sweden
Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy
Vendome, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
Restaurant Frantzen, Stockholm, Sweden
Aqua, Wolfsburg, Germany
Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
L’Astrance, Paris, France
Quique Dacosta, Denia, Spain
Tickets Bar, Barcelona, Spain
Relae, Copenhagen, Denmark
Au Plaza Athenee, Paris, France
Schloss Schauenstein, Furstenau, Switzerland