BILBAO: Italy’s Osteria Francescana was crowned the world’s best restaurant for the second time on Tuesday at an awards ceremony put on by British trade magazine Restaurant, beating out top eateries in Spain and France.
Run by chef Massimo Bottura, the restaurant in Modena, Italy pipped last year’s winner, New York’s “Eleven Madison Park,” in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, after first taking the honour in 2016. It is the only Italian establishment to have won the annual accolade.
“This is amazing, this is something we built all together,” Bottura told the awards ceremony held in Bilbao in Spain’s northern Basque Country, famous for its avant-garde haute cuisine.
“I am going to use this spotlight to show that chefs in 2018 are much more than the sum of their recipes.”
The top restaurant’s list’s organisers praised “Bottura’s contemporary cuisine, which challenges and reinvents Italian culinary tradition while making use of the finest produce from the Emilia-Romagna region.”
His father wanted him to become a lawyer but when he was 23-years-old Bottura, who was famous for rustling up culinary delights for his friends, dropped his law studies to open a Trattoria in Campazzo, in the countryside around Modena in the Po River Valley.
On his days off, he would study with French chef Georges Cogny, who had a restaurant two hours away.
“He said to me: ‘always follow your palate because you have a great palate which will make Modena known around the world’,” Bottura said during an interview with AFP in 2016.
He opened Osteria Francescana in 1995 after spending time in New York and Monaco.
Two Peruvians in top 10
Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca, which took the top honour in 2013 and 2015, came in second while third place went to Mirazur in southern France.
Restaurant magazine, owned by William Reed Media, launched the awards in 2002 and they are now as coveted by restaurants as Michelin stars, although the methodology used to select the best restaurants has faced criticism, especially from several French chefs who say it remains unclear.
There are no criteria for putting a restaurant on the list, which is based on an anonymous poll of more than 1,000 chefs, restaurant owners, food critics and other industry insiders from around the world.
Each member gets 10 votes and at least four of those votes have to go to restaurants outside their region.
The top 10 included two Peruvian restaurants, “Central” which slipped to number six from fifth place last year and “Maido” which climbed to number seven from eighth place.
The only Asian restaurant in the top 10 was Bangkok’s “Gaggan”, whose owner-chef Gaggan Anand has won praise for his modern spin on his native Indian cuisine.
Half in Europe
Spain continued to dominate the line-up with three restaurants in the top 10, including El Celler de Can Roca, while France had two including Mirazur.
The 2018 list of 50 best restaurants included eateries in 22 countries – but over half were in Europe. Six are in the United States, six in Latin America and six in Asia.
Tuesday’s ceremony also handed out individual chef awards.
Britain’s Clare Smyth, who catered the dinner at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last month, was named best female chef and France’s Cedric Grolet best pastry chef.
Peru’s celebrity chef Gaston Acurio, who is known for combining classic European techniques with typical ingredients from the Andean country, was given a lifetime achievement award.
The top restaurant award has gone to Spain seven times, the most of any country. In addition to El Celler de Can Roca’s two wins, ground-breaking Spanish chef Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, which he closed in 2011, took the prize a record five times.
This year was the first time the ceremony was held in Spain. The event has been held before in London, New York and Melbourne. — AFP