Cuisine from Europe’s warmer climes is back on top of the annual list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, which this year sees El Celler de Can Roca of Girona, Spain, reclaim the title it last held in 2013.
Victory was achieved at the expense of Noma, a four-time Danish winner known for its clinical servings of deep-fried moss and pine foam, which was bumped down to third to make way for an Italian runner-up, Modena’s Osteria Francescana.
But while the list will be toasted in Spain and Italy, the complete absence of any restaurants from France in its top 10 is likely to ensure that Gallic knives remain out after a number of top French chefs including Joël Robuchon and Georges Blanc signed an online petition criticising the 50 Best on a number of grounds.
Britain retained toe-holds in the rankings, announced on Monday at London’s Guildhall, although Dinner by Heston Blumenthal fell two spots to seventh place and Brett Graham’s The Ledbury in west London was down 10 positions to 20th.
Renowned for its free-style cooking and cutting edge techniques, this year’s overall winner held the title two years ago before slipping to second place last year.
El Celler de Can Roca was opened in 1986 by Brothers Joan and Josep Roca. The 50 Best organisation said: “Crucially, this is a restaurant that has never forgotten its humble roots, its sense of familial warmth, or the need to serve remarkably delicious dishes and outstanding wines.”
William Reed Media, publishers of the Restaurant magazine and organisers of the yearly list, say that it is created from the votes of an “influential group of almost 1,000 international leaders in the restaurant community”.
For the first time, consultants Deloitte were also said to have been brought into the mix as an “official independent adjudication partner” in order to “ensure that the integrity and authenticity of the voting process”.
The deployment of Deloitte has come against the backdrop of reported comments by Arnaud Tillon, the brand director for Nestlé Waters, which owns list sponsor San Pellegrino, who was said to have suggested that a lack of transparency in the list’s methodology was a problem for the company in France.
Separately, the list has come under attack from Occupy 50 Best, an online campaign describing itself as “We, the culinary connoisseurs of all countries and creeds: cooks, critics or simply lovers of Good Food.”
It has been behind a petition urging sponsors to stop supporting an “opaque, obsequious ranking, where nationalism trumps quality, sexism trumps diversity and the spotlight is on the celebrity chef instead of the health and satisfaction of the customer”.
In terms of the international share, France has five restaurants in this year’s 50 Best, which includes seven from the US and nine from Latin America. Seven Asian restaurants make it into the list, including two featuring in the top 10 for the first time.
This article was written by Ben Quinn, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 2nd June 2015 01.18 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010