San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards seen as Oscars of fine dining industry
Noma returns to top place, knocking last year's winner, Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, into second
Awards are now viewed by some as more influential than coveted Michelin stars
Get dialing for your reservation now: Noma in Copenhagen has been named the world’s best restaurant at a ceremony revealing the planet’s top 50 dining venues.
To raucous cheers, high fives, hugs and kisses, team Noma took to the stage in a packed London venue in jubilant scenes that wouldn’t be out of place at the World Cup in Brazil later this year.
Noma’s top honor in the prestigious San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards – viewed as the Oscars of fine dining – was the fourth win for minimalist Danish pioneer of foraged menus.
The award was presented late Monday at a ceremony in central London attended by some of the world’s leading chefs.
“It’s too (expletive deleted) crazy!” said Noma’s head chef, Rene Redzepi, picking up the award. “Thank you for believing in us.
“In the last year (after the restaurant was awarded second place) my staff and I looked into each others’ eyes and said ‘let’s just really really work hard.’ We made a plan and said ‘let’s make this the best year we’ve ever had.’”
“But to have this is a whole surprise, none of us expected it.”
The list, now in its 12th year, is dominated by European venues, but there were prizes for restaurants from around the world, including Asia’s first top 20 entry.
The biggest climber was Lima, Peru, restaurant Central, which jumped from No. 50 last year to No. 15 this year.
The highest debut entry was Gaggan from Bangkok, which came in at No. 17.
There were few changes in the list’s top 10.
Despite the repeat victory for Noma, it’s still yet to match the record of Spain’s El Bulli, which claimed four successive wins before head chef Ferran Adria closed its doors in 2011.
Other winners in the top 10 were, in fourth place New York’s Eleven Madison Park, followed by Spain’s Mugaritz, Brazil’s D.O.M., London’s Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Spain’s Arzak, Chicago’s Alinea and The Ledbury, another London restaurant.
Noma, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, was praised for its “fresh approach and energy.”
The restaurant’s menu serves diners with a series of “snacks” largely sourced from the Nordic landscape – dishes that include sea urchin toast and a beef tartar that includes ants.
Most of the winners – a total of 28 – were from Europe, with Spain claiming seven top 50 positions.
Nahm, a Thai restaurant in Bangkok that earlier this year was named Asia’s best, made it to number 13 in the list – the region’s highest entry.
Organized by UK-based Restaurant Magazine and sponsored by Italian drinks manufacturers San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, the awards are seen as highly influential in the fine dining industry.
Noma’s first win in 2010 is credited with catapulting the restaurant to international stardom.
Reputedly, the day after winning, it received enough online reservations to fill its 45 seats for a decade – thankfully, it only takes bookings for a few weeks in advance.
Some observers say the awards now hold greater sway over a restaurant’s financial success and bookings than coveted Michelin star rankings, often transforming them into major travel destinations.
“This is the big one,” contest chairman Richard Vines told CNN ahead of the awards. “Although you can argue about the list, everyone wants to be on it.”
Vines said the list isn’t a rival to Michelin’s “systematic” assessments, describing it as a spontaneous “beauty contest for restaurants.”
The list was decided by votes compiled from 900 restaurant industry figures.
The winning names were closely guarded ahead of this year’s ceremony after details were leaked prior to announcement in 2013.
British chef Fergus Henderson received a lifetime achievement award at this year’s event.
Henderson’s St. John restaurant in London has championed “nose-to-tail” eating that utilizes every part of an animal.
San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2014
1. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
2. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
3. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
4. Eleven Madison Park, New York
5. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
6. Mugartiz, San Sebastian, Spain
7. D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil
8. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
9. Alinea, Chicago
10. The Ledbury, London
11. Mirazur, Menton, France
12. Vendome, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
13. Nahm, Bangkok
14. Narisawa, Tokyo
15. Central, Lima, Peru
16. Steirereck, Vienna
17. Gaggan, Bangkok
18. Astrid y Gaston, Lima, Peru
19. Fäviken, Järpen, Sweden
20. Pujol, Mexico City
21. Le Bernardin, New York
22. Vila Joya, Albufeira, Portugal
23. Restaurant Frantzén, Stockholm
24. Amber, Hong Kong
25. L’Arpege, Paris
26. Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
27. Le Chateaubriand, Paris
28. Aqua, Wolfsburg, Germany
29. De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands
30. Per Se, New York
31. L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joel Robuchon, Paris
32. Attica, Melbourne, Australia
33. Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo
34. Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain
35. Martin Berasategui, Lasarte-Oria, Spain
36. Maní, Sao Paulo, Brazil
37. Restaurant Andre, Singapore
38. L’Astrance, Paris
39. Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy
40. Daniel, New York
41. Quique Dacosta, Dénia, Spain
42. Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark
43. Schloss Schauenstein, Fürstenau, Switzerland
44. French Laundry, Yountville, California
45. Hof Van Cleeve, Kruishoutem, Belgium
46. Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
47. The Fat Duck, Bray, UK
48. The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa
49. Coi, San Francisco
50. Waku Ghin, Singapore