Spanish restaurant seizes ‘world’s best’ award

Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, in the Catalonian town of Girona, won the title of the world's best restaurant from Denmark's Noma on Monday, one month after dozens of people came down with food poisoning after eating at the Copenhagen eatery.

Spanish restaurant seizes 'world's best' award
Bonbons at the Girona restuarant El Celler de Can Roca, named the world's best by the UK's Restuarant magazine. Photo: John O'Nolan

The restaurant in Girona (Gerona), run by three brothers and known for its dishes based on perfumes, had spent two years as runner-up on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list compiled for a 12th year by more than 900 international experts for Britain's Restaurant magazine.

It swapped places with Noma, the two Michelin-starred Danish restaurant which spent three years at the top but which apologized in March after it left 63 customers suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea over a five-day period.

The magazine said that El Celler de Can Roca "gained global acclaim for its combination of Catalan dishes and cutting edge techniques and the passion that they share for hospitality".

Joan Roca heads the kitchen while his brother Jordi is pastry chef and Josep is head sommelier and in charge of front of house. They make what the magazine called a "formidable team" that creates "emotional cuisine" which takes diners back to childhood memories, the magazine said.

Spain continues to dominate the top 10 with Mugaritz in San Sebastian at number four, and Arzak, also in San Sebastian, at number eight.

Italy's Osteria Francescana was in third place, up from fifth, while New York's Eleven Madison Park was up five places to fifth, in the awards presented on Monday night at London's Guildhall.

South America also had much to celebrate in the results with a record six restaurants from the continent on the list. They are led by Brazil's D.O.M., run by former DJ Alex Atala in Sao Paulo, at number six and Astrid Y Gaston in Lima, Peru, the highest climber in the list, rising 21 places to 14.

Asia meanwhile boasts seven restaurants in the top 50, up one from last year, led by Tokyo restaurant Narisawa at number 20. Australia's Attica is meanwhile the highest new entry on the list at 21.

The United States has six restaurants on the list, as does France, with legendary chef Alain Ducasse winning a lifetime achievement award.

British chef Heston Blumenthal kept two restaurants in the top 50 with his London restaurant Dinner up two places at seven, although his older restaurant The Fat Duck fell 20 places to 33.

The One to Watch award went to the Test Kitchen in South Africa's Cape Town, where British-born chef Luke Dale-Roberts has an "eclectic style" that produces "unequivocally delicious food," the magazine said.

The result caps a rough few months for Noma, which had seized the top spot in 2010 from the now-closed El Bulli in Spain and held it in 2011 and 2012 with its innovative mix of foraged ingredients in a quayside setting.

Inspectors from the Danish food ministry criticized the restaurant in March for not alerting authorities quickly enough and for failing to take adequate action after a kitchen worker fell sick, meaning that the illness spread to customers.

Noma blamed internal communication problems for failing to disinfect the kitchen quickly enough.

Top 10 of Restaurant magazine's 50 Best Restaurants 2013 (last year's rank in brackets):

   1. El Celler de Can Roca — Girona, Spain (2nd)
   2. Noma — Copenhagen, Denmark (1st)
   3. Osteria Francescana — Modena, Italy (5th)
   4. Mugaritz — San Sebastian, Spain (3rd)
   5. Eleven Madison Park — New York, USA (10th)
   6. D.O.M. — Sao Paulo, Brazil (4th)
   7. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal — London (9th)
   8. Arzak — San Sebastian, Spain (8th)
   9. Steirereck — Vienna, Austria (11th)
   10. Vendome — Bergisch Gladbach, Germany (23rd)

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Spanish restaurant lose ‘world’s best’ crown

Spain's El Celler de Can Roca was knocked off its perch as the world's top restaurant on Monday after Britain's Restaurant magazine awarded the 2014 prize to Denmark's Noma, but Spain still dominated the top ten.

Spanish restaurant lose 'world's best' crown
Spain's El Celler de Can Roca restaurant will have to make do with being the world's second best restaurant in 2014. Photo: Quique GarcĂ­a/AFP

Denmark's Noma restaurant reclaimed the title of world's best restaurant, becoming a four-time winner having lost the title last year to Spain's El Celler de Can Roca.

The two Michelin star restaurant in Copenhagen, which serves Nordic specialities in a quayside warehouse, topped the World's 50 Best Restaurants list compiled by 900 international experts for Britain's Restaurant magazine.

There were murmurs in the audience when El Celler de Can Roca was named only at number two, losing the crown it seized from Noma for the first time last year.

The restaurant in Girona, run by three brothers and known for its dishes based on perfumes, had previously spent two years as runner-up.

The brothers spoke before the ceremony, revealing that last year's victory had sparked a fresh wave of creativity.

"It's been a magical year, full of projects, emotion, sharing and dreams becoming reality," eldest brother Joan Roca told a press conference.

Consolation for the culinary siblings came when Jordi was named Best Pastry Chef in the World.

Spain dominates top 10

Foraging restaurant Noma suffered last year after it was forced to apologize for a bout of food poisoning that left 63 customers suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea over a five-day period.

The restaurant, which gets its name from two Danish words "nordisk" (Nordic) and "mad" (food), serves up local fare such as moss, sea urchins and oysters, and is celebrated for its Hen and Eggs dish — quail eggs which are pickled and smoked.

last month, Noma announced plans to relocate to Japan for two months in 2015.

Since the awards were established in 2002 only five restaurants have held the title: Spain's El Bulli, in 2002 and from 2006-2009; California's French Laundry in 2003 and 2004; Britain's Fat Duck in 2005; Noma from 2010 to 2012, and El Celler de Can Roca last year.

Redzepi has formerly worked at The French Laundry, El Bulli and The Fat Duck.

Spain again dominated this year's top 10 with Mugaritz in San Sebastian at number six, and Arzak, also in San Sebastian, at number eight.

Italy's Osteria Francescana was in third place for the second year in a row, New York's Eleven Madison Park in fourth, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London fifth and D.O.M. in Sao Paulo seventh.

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London's The Ledbury climbed three places to take 10th spot, while Chicago's Alinea surged six places to 9th.

Seven American restaurants made the top 50, one more than last year, while Gaggan, a modernist Indian restaurant in Bangkok was the highest new entry at number 17.

Lima's Central was the highest climber, moving from 50th place last year to 15th.

Although only 12 years old, the award is beginning to rival the Michelin Guide in influence, helped by its focus on previously unexplored corners of the culinary world.

Although 29 of the awards still went to restaurants in the traditional gastronomic powerhouse of Europe, there were no French restaurants in the top 10, although they did make up ten percent of the top 50.

Seven of the top 50 restaurants were found in Asia, five in Latin America and one in Africa.

The world's top ten restaurants according to British magazine Restaurant…

1) Noma – Denmark
2) El Celler de Can Roca – Spain
3) Osteria Francescana – -Italy
4) Eleven Madison Park – United States
5) Dinner – United Kingdom
6) Mugaritz – Spain
7) D.O.M. – Brazil
8) Arzak – Spain
9) Alinea – United States
10) The Ledbury – United Kingdom

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