(CNN) – The soft clinking of glasses, the faint hum of conversation, the soft lights and scents that whet the appetite.
We sadly missed everything when restaurants around the world were forced to close their doors in 2020 and 2021, cold ovens and owners and workers faced with an uncertain future.
The # 1 spot this year goes to what is perhaps the best-known name in gastronomy: Noma. Danish chef RenÃ© Redzepi’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant opened in Copenhagen’s Christianshavn district in 2003 and won first place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2010.
A new rule introduced at the 2019 awards made the previous title winners ineligible for the list, but Noma was able to make the cut as it closed in 2016, then reopened at a new location in Copenhagen two years later.
This fundamental change in the rules rules out Eleven Madison Park in New York, The Fat Duck near London, Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and the 2019 winner, Mirazur in Menton, France. These restaurants are now part of a separate “Best of the Best” program, of which Noma is the most recent member.
Noma might just be the most famous restaurant in the world.
The fight for survival
Taking the stage at the Flanders Meeting and Convention Center in Antwerp, Belgium, Redzepi recalled the life-changing experience of winning the award for the first time 11 years ago: âFollowing this victory, all dreams were apparently open. It also gave us a chance to be part – a part – of a transformation in the food culture of an entire region. “
He also reflected on the difficult times the industry faces. âIf the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how fragile our dreams can be, how incredibly exhausting and difficult this industry can be,â he said.
“I want to recognize all of the restaurants and people in the industry who fought for their survival. It’s kinda weird standing on this stage knowing that there are so many people still fighting.”
Ending on a note of hope, he said of Team Noma: “We’ve spent the last year and a half dreaming about something. We’re going to build it now.”
Live well in Lima
Diners who can’t get a table at Noma can always try its second-place neighbor in Copenhagen, Geranium, where chef Rasmus Kofoed serves an adventurous seasonal menu that speaks to his love of foraging at sea. Ingredients on offer include squid, melted smoked lard, and yeast essence.
Rasmus Kofoed’s Copenhagen restaurant, Geranium, ranked second on the 2021 list.
Claes Bech Poulsen / Geranium
Elsewhere in Western Europe, Spain’s performance this year has also been strong. Larrabetzu’s Asador Etxebarri – where all dishes, even desserts, are flame grilled – held on to third place, while chef Victor Arguinzoniz was voted by his peers as the winner of the Chefs’ Choice Award. Barcelona’s Disfrutar moved up to No.5, San Sebastian’s Mugaritz slipped to No.14, while Madrid’s DiverXO reached No.20.
The Peruvian capital of Lima had two restaurants in the top 10: chefs Virgilio MartÃnez and PÃa LeÃ³n’s Central, who climbed two places to fourth place, and Maido to No.7, whose case is the Japanese-Peruvian fusion. , with a highlight being the lucuma ice cream, topped with soy sauce and macambo mousse.
Although restaurants in Lima and other famous places from Mexico City to Singapore make the top 10, no restaurant outside of Europe or North America has ever won the World’s Top 50 award.
Since the launch of the competition in 2002, the 18 winners have come from Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy and France.
Honoring female talent
PÃa LeÃ³n de Central not only celebrated the award for the best restaurant in South America, but was also named the best female chef in the world. It’s an honor that sparks some controversy as critics see it as a strengthening of the inequality that the event’s organizers say it is helping to address.
World famous chef Dominique Crenn talks about her French culture, her family and her love for food.
French-born Dominique Crenn, co-owner and chef of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco (No. 48 on the list), won the Icon Award.
William Drew, Content Director for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: âCrenn is not only an exceptional chef and restaurateur, she is an example of someone who speaks the truth to power in all aspects of his life – through his leadership, his humanity and an endless campaign for social justice inside and outside the realm of hospitality. “
Ana RoÅ¡, one of the best chefs in the world, was once a talented young skier. She tells CNN’s Don Riddell how she has used the intensity of competitive sports in her professional life.
Slovenia’s HiÅ¡a Franko, led by Ana RoÅ¡, the 2017 recipient of the Best Woman Chef in the World, also had a good evening – she jumped 17 places in the table to climb to 21st place.
The art of hospitality award went to the Vienna Steirereck at No.12, where highlights could include sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke with lamb sweetbreads, or the signature char fish cooked at the table in beeswax with yellow carrot “pollen” and sour cream.
BoragÃ³, in Santiago, Chile, No. 38 on the list, won the Sustainable Restaurant Award. He has his own biodynamic farm and emphasizes hyper-local, “zero kilometer” cuisine.
Ikoyi, in St. James’s, London, won the One to Watch award. Run by childhood friends Jeremy Chan and Ire Hassan-Odukale, it serves authentic West African flavors in a chic, modern setting.
Will Goldfarb, born in Bali’s Room 4 Dessert, USA, and star of the Netflix series “Chef’s Table”, won the award for best pastry chef.