Find and book great restaurantsFind a Restaurant
René Redzepi’s Noma (pictured, below right) has been crowned the World’s Best Restaurant for the second year running. The Copenhagen restaurant, whose team of foraging chefs steadfastly uses only ingredients native to Scandinavia, was praised by the judges for its ‘meticulous attention to detail, fastidious approach to service, wicked sense of humour and unrivalled creativity’, all of which results in an ‘emotive, intense, liberating way of eating, unlike any other’.
Redzepi (pictured, left) and his team flew to London for the event, which took place in the Guildhall. Upon learning the restaurant had retained the number-one spot, the whole team donned plastic Viking hats and jumped up on to the stage, hugging and cheering. ‘You lot are so childish’, Redzepi admonished when he took to the mic – before sipping Champagne from a plastic horn.
An emotional Redzepi then went on to thank his team. ‘I’m grateful and happy that you are with me’, he told them. ‘Most of you have been here since day one and I can’t thank you enough.’
While France boasts more restaurants in the list than any other country (eight, compared with six last year), it was Spain that swiped second and third place in the top 50. Girona’s El Celler de Can Roca came in at number two in the world, while Mugaritz in San Sebastián was third.
It was a good night for British restaurants, too, four of which made the list (compared with three in 2010). Perhaps the biggest Brit success story of the night was The Ledbury (pictured, below left), the highest ranked newcomer to the top 50, at number 34. The panel described the Notting Hill restaurant as ‘small but perfectly realised, with front-of-house staff who successfully walk the tightrope between formal and relaxed, and dishes that are wonderfully executed and well-balanced.’
Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus was the first UK restaurant to be announced in the countdown, jumping six places to number 43. Fergus Henderson’s St John also climbed two places, to number 41, to widespread cheering and whooping from fellow chefs. Meanwhile, Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck – the only UK restaurant ranked higher than The Ledbury – slipped two places to number five. Blumenthal was typically chivalrous about losing out to other restaurants, praising ‘the young energy of the big chefs of the future.’
During the ceremony, guests remembered Spanish chef Santi Santamaria, who died in February 2011, aged 53. However, the rest of the evening was upbeat: Anne-Sophie Pic (Maison Pic) picked up the inaugural award for Best Female Chef, while Frantzén/Lindeberg, in Stockholm, was named the restaurant to watch. Arzak’s Elena Arzak Espina (herself nominated for the Best Female Chef award) gave a deeply personal speech about her father, Juan Mari Arzak, when he received the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Restaurant launched the World’s 50 Best awards in 2002. Its editor, William Drew, said of the awards: ‘Each restaurant review is by nature subjective. Not everybody will agree with the results, but the list is fundamentally democratic and a credible indicator of superb restaurants around the world.’
by Nicky Evans, News and Online Editor
19 April 2011
Photography (Noma and René Redzepi) by Ditte Isager.