I’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling all around the world these past few weeks and luckily my travel time frame has coincided with one of the largest global food events; Diner’s Club International’s® The World’s 50 Best Restaurants at Guildhall in London, England.
What are the chances that while on a food tour of the City of London, I would also get the chance to attend one of the most prestigious culinary world events too! Definitely a worthy check off my culinary bucket list.
The top chefs from all over the world gathered in London to support one another, and essentially find out who was to receive the highest honor — the award for Best Restaurant (the equivalent to the Oscars of the food world!).
Almost 1000 members make up the Academy of voters, each selected for their expert opinions of the international restaurant scene. 27 geographical regions each have their own chairperson chosen for their global culinary knowledge. These chairs each select a voting panel of 36 (including themselves) – ensuring a balanced selection of chefs, restaurateurs, food/restaurant journalists and gourmets. Then, the winners are decided!
That night, is TONIGHT!
6:30 pm, chefs arrive to the famous and beautiful Guildhall and chat with media.
7:00 pm, cocktail reception with sponsors precede the awards. More schmoozing with the chefs and tasting good food and wine.
8:25 pm, awards begin. Our entertaining and cheeky MC promises that the winner of the #1 slot would be announced at 9:25. That’s a long list to get through in the hour. 50 all the way down to 1… here we go…
Various awards are given out, the countdown begins…. In addition to the top 50, there were other awards given as well including:
World’s Best Female Chef - Hélene Darroze (Connaught, London and Hélene Darroze, Paris) She gave a lovely speech about how women are going to start to take over the culinary scene. Yeah! She says her kitchen is mostly women and by next year, it will most likely be only women! Or so, she will try to make it so. Everyone applauded.
Best Pastry Chef - Albert Adriá (Tickets, Barcelona, Spain) The entire room stood on their feet and gave a standing ovation when he went up to accept his award. It was very nice to see how the chefs all support one another. You could really feel the camaraderie in the room.
Best Sustainable Restaurant – Relae (Copenhagen, Denmark) Makes me want to go to Denmark! This award is given to the restaurant on the list with the highest environmental and social responsibility ranking. Over 90% of Relae’s ingredients are 90% fully organic and their simple aesthetic is matched by their environmentally low-impact approach to dining.
Best Restaurant in Asia and #8 Best restaurant in the world – Narisawa in Tokyo, Japan. Wish I had the chance to try it while I was there last week. Dang. Even more the reason to go back to Japan now!
Lifetime Achievement award - Daniel Boulud (Daniel, New York, USA) This much loved French chef gave a lovely speech about receiving this honor perhaps too early… he has “so much more to give and do,” he says. The room of chefs all lauded him and rose to their feet when he came up to receive his award.
Right at 9:25, just as promised… the #1 Best Restaurant In the World Is Announced.
And the Winner is….
Previous winner, now back on top: El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain) – A 55-seat Catalan restaurant with a creative take on modern Spanish food, operated by a charming trio of brothers. Some women around me were so happy for them, some were shaking, others actually cried tears of joy.
The next awards in 2016 will be leaving London (for the first time). They are headed to New York City!
Here’s a few pics from the night.
*Special thanks to FoodieHub for inviting me!