The king is dead; long live the king. Just when it seem that the meals world had relocated definitively past the high-wire pyrotechnics of modern Spanish cooking to embrace the less decorated lichen and sea buckthorn of brand-new Nordic food, along came the 2013 list of the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants to state: not so quickly. At its yearly awards ceremony, held on April 29th at London’s Guild Hall, the leading honor went to El Celler de Can Roca, located in the northeastern Spanish city of Girona.
There, avant-garde executive chef Joan Roca designs bold new dishes from things like distilled dirt; among his more youthful brothers, sommelier Josep, keeps a cellar where songs and video images are matched to the flavors of his favorite wines; and the other, pastry chef Jordi, develops desserts that taste like the scent of well-known perfumes. Copenhagen’s Noma, which had held the leading area for the previous 3 years, was up to second location.
Among Spaniards, Can Roca’s victory came as welcome reassurance that the country’s minute in the cooking sun was not over. Although Spanish bistros have actually carried out strongly for several years– 2 others, Mugaritz and Arzak, retained their positions in the leading 10 of 2013’s list– it hasn’t taken first location because Copenhagen’s Noma displaced Ferran Adrià’s innovative el Bullì in 2010. “It reveals a consolidation of our position,” says Rafael Ansón, president of the Royal Spanish Academy of Gastronomy. “It’s the strongest verification that worldwide of chef-artists, we are the finest.”.
But the results came as a surprise to some. Says Joanna Savill, supervisor of the celebration Crave Sydney: “You have to appreciate Can Roca, due to the fact that what they do is so stunning, so poetic, so expressive. But that’s not the international story at the minute. The worldwide story, the new story, is about chefs mirroring who and where they are.”.
That the restaurant sector now craves novelty nearly as much as Hollywood does can be attributed in part to the 50 Best list itself. Founded 11 years ago, its audacious breakthrough was to place bistros, based upon the votes of the hundreds of chefs and journalists who make up its jury. That easy mechanism has actually made it enormously influential, catapulting chefs to importance and altering the economic fortunes of their bistros. The day after Noma first gained the top slot, its reservationist got 100,000 booking requests.
This year, chefs from 49 of the 50 dining establishments attended the award ceremony– proof of how extremely concerned it is among them. “It’s an astonishing honor,” says Alex Atala, chef of São Paulo’s DOM, which placed 6th this year. “To get this kind of awareness, specifically when you originate from a part of the world that hasn’t already been understood for its restaurant culture, is unbelievable.”.
By insisting that jurors use a minimum of 3 of their 7 votes on restaurants outside their own regions, the company helps make sure a specific geographical range. For nations or regions that have actually not traditionally been component of nouvelle cuisine’s pantheon, the sense that the centers of gravity are expanding can be exhilarating. “We’re the first restaurant from Melbourne to ever make the list, and I’ve been getting messages from individuals in your home– maybe 200 of them– all day,” says Ben Shewry, chef of Attica, which was available in at No. 21. “But there’s also a sense of pride amongst Australia as a whole; I feel like the whole nation is behind us.”.
Yet for all the enthusiasm that borders it, the listing is not without controversy, and not just of the “How did that location get there?” kind. Britain’s Restaurant magazine, which supervises the rankings, has been criticized for a lack of transparency. The company never ever launches the variety of actual votes that each dining establishment gets, nor does it require evidence from its jury members that they have really dined in the restaurants they elect.
And of course the very premise that something as subjective as a restaurant can somehow be evaluated “best” worldwide is itself questionable. Nonetheless, due to the fact that the list has a tendency to raise not just chefs however the foods that give rise to them, it helps contribute to the sense of a hierarchy of countries– first Spanish food was on top, then Nordic– and raise expectations that one food will replace an additional (for premonitions of the next big thing, want to the unmatched presence of 6 Latin American bistros on this year’s listing).
In London, a noticeably relocated Joan Roca was modest as he stepped on phase to accept the award for a restaurant that he and his brothers began over a years back. “We do not know if we are the very best, but you can be sure we will continue dealing with audacity, with generosity, and with imagination,” he informed the audience. But as photographers crowded around to shoot pictures of the world’s most recent top chef, he couldn’t help reviewing the gain’s national significance. “Spanish gastronomy needed this,” he informed TIME. “We needed a push like this to prove ourselves again in front of the world.”.