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The event: S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards 2012.
The venue: Guildhall, Gresham Street.
The food: a sharp line-up of canapés met the lofty gastronomic standards expected at such an event: morsels of king crab with pomelo and vanilla oil served on liquorice sticks, cubes of salmon with soy caviar and zingy ponzu, and salted-peanut-and-caramel cups with edible soil.
To drink: chilled Champagne from Veuve Clicquot; pitch-perfect negronis courtesy of Highland Park; Lavazza coffee; and, of course, water from S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna (all event sponsors).
The entertainment: spinning the Slow Food roulette wheel and feasting on the ‘winnings’ – from Colchester native oysters and Montgomery cheddar to seasonal blanched asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes. Also, cheeky presenter Mark Durden-Smith’s witty banter as he announced each award.
Suppliers: canapés supplied by “rhubarb” and served on silestone trays. Other food and drink supplied by event sponsors, including: S. Pellegrino; Acqua Panna; Birra Moretti; Cacao Barry; Highland Park; Lavazza; and Veuve Clicquot.
The talking point: the press scrum when superstar chef Ferran Adriá arrived in a car with blacked-out windows; the Jamie Oliver masks Le Chateaubriand’s team donned when the restaurant was announced as number 15 on the list; and whether Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – the year’s highest new entry at number nine – was placed too high. Is it really better than The Fat Duck (which fell eight places to number 13)?
On the guest list: restaurant industry big-hitters: celebrity chefs including el Bulli’s Ferran Adriá, Noma’s René Redzepi, and The French Laundry’s Thomas Keller, London broadsheet critics, international journalists brandishing cameras and mics, publishers, influential bloggers, and other foodies about town, including TV presenter and cookbook writer Gizzi Erskine.
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events, summer 2012