René Redzepi, the head chef of Noma, tabbed for a second time as the best restaurant in the world. Photo by Pradip J. Phanse.
The brothers Roca (Joan, Josep, and Jordi) in their restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. Photo by Pere Duran.
René Redzepi (left) greets the Spanish cook Juan Mari Arzak. Photo by Rosa Rivas.
Noma, The World’s Best Restaurant, and the Spanish Culinary Revolution
The Top Restaurant list re-validates Noma as the best restaurant in the world and consolidates Spanish leadership with El Celler de Can Roca (2nd) and Mugaritz (3rd)
El Pais: Noma y la revolución española
Rosa Rivas reporting from London April 18, 2011
The number one restaurant in the world: once again Noma, run by the Dane René Redzepi. Number two: El Celler de Can Roca. Number three: Mugaritz. In eighth place: Arzak. A trio of Catalan and Basque establishments give a burst of Spanish gastronomic energy to the ten world locales which, according to the British magazine Restaurant, are worth the trouble to visit because they are the best of the best. Among the ten indispensables, 4th is the Italian Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana, falling two places since 2010. The Fat Duck, operated by the British cook Heston Blumenthal, also fell two places but is holding strong.
Alinea in Chicago rose to sixth place, confirming a sweet year for the American Grant Achatz. He has a new three-star ranking from Michelin and recently published an autobiography about his career and his battle with cancer, and now his restaurant has been ranked the best in North America. The Brazilian Alex Atala’s D.O.M rose a spectacular 11 spots to seventh place. Basque-French Iñaki Aizpitarte’s Parisian restaurant Le Chateubriand and Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York round out the magnificent ten.
“We weren’t expecting it, but I’m very happy. This result reinforces the advances of the Spanish culinary revolution. The world continues to believe in the work we began long ago.” Joan Roca, the only brother of the creative triangle of El Celler de Can Roca who is in London, was exultant at the news that their Girona restaurant rose to second, two places higher than in 2010. While texts flew in from his brothers Josep and Jori, he enjoyed the emotional applause and embraces of his wife and older son, a chorus of laughs and exclamations from his Spanish compatriots Juan Mari Arzak and Adoni Luis Aduriz, and the enthusiastic congratulations of the rest of the triumphant. The award ceremony, in The Guildhall of London, oozed with so much emotion and so many tears of happiness that it looked like it snowed in this sunny city. At the ceremony, there were also words of thanks for the Japanese chefs who attended despite the circumstances the country has faced since March 11., and time was set aside to remember the recently deceased Catalan chef Santi Santamaria.
“It’s incredible; it’s a dream to see the people of our house lifted up so high,” exclaimed Aduriz. The chef of Mugaritz and his entire team have reemerged from a fire which destroyed the Basque country house; the embers of their creativity burn brighter. “We’ll continue to be potent, and we’re going to be even better. This is only the beginning,” according to the Basque cook.
Juan Mari Arzak was as happy as a child with new toys. The pleasure was triple: he was given the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best prize in recognition of a life before the stoves; his restaurant rose one position higher than last year, and his daughter Elena Arzak was named one of the three best female cooks in the world, a new award from Restaurant. “I was recognized for my work, and now the Spanish upward trajectory has been consolidated. It’s amazing: let us never stop toasting!” said the veteran chef.
Ferran Adrià of elBulli also toasted his colleagues. Last year, he was dethroned from the top position but recognized as the chef of the decade, and now he his restaurant is on the point of being entirely re-purposed as a research foundation. “This is the first year we aren’t in London, but the news that so many of our own have triumphed is a dream; it’s the greatest gift. ElBulli is not on the list, but its spirit lives on.”
Massimo Bottura thought the same: “there are many children of elBulli on this list, among them Redzepi, Achatz, and I. Ferran taught us how to think and how to use technique to stake out our own territory.” There was a happy feeling of brotherhood in London, as about a dozen apprentices of elBulli placed among the 50 names on the famous Restaurant list (there are already ten editions).
Redzepi is the young Norse leader of a new movement of European cooks. He has achieved his dream of establishing himself. “I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder,” he had said to the magazine days before, and with his credibility assured, his smile stretched from ear to ear. “Not bad,” he joked. He is an emotional minimalist.
In turn, the normally self-controlled Japanese repaid reverence with kisses. Yoshihiro Narisawa has risen 12 places, and his Tokyo restaurant was named the best in Asia. He was very encouraged because Les Creations de Narisawa has been affected by ingredient shortages and a fear-driven drop in foreign clientele since the earthquake and tsunami. Another high-scale Tokyo restaurant was that was well-recompensed was Seiji Yamamoto’s Ruygin, which rose a spectacular 28 places.
The Peruvian Gastón Acurio was “feliz!” Because this is the first time the gastronomic potential of his country was recognized. “Latin America has a bright future, the gastroempresario assured. His business touched down in the sphere of world super-restaurants at #42, but the Brazilian Atala’s seventh place establishment has the best augurs, as it was named the best restaurant in Latin America.