The 2011 S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony was held last night, and number 2 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, with chef Margot Janse at the helm, was the only South African restaurant to make the prestigious Top 50 list, for the seventh year running, and won Best Restaurant in Africa/Middle East, at 36th position, down from number 31 last year.  The top restaurant on the World’s 50 Best is Noma from Copenhagen, its second successive year at the top. France remains the country with the most Best Restaurants, at seven, followed by Italy and the USA, with six each.

South Africa also featured in the 51-100 Restaurant ranking, with Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Top Chef David Higg’s Rust en Vrede  team making 61st place (up from last year’s 74th place), enhancing the sadness about his departure from the restaurant in June, and La Colombe (now without Luke Dale-Roberts) at 82nd place, a vast fall from 12th position last year.

Rank Position Restaurant Country Awards
1 Noma Denmark The S.Pellegrino Best Restaurant in the World. The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant in Europe
2 Up 2 El Celler De Can Roca Spain  
3 Up 2 Mugaritz Spain  
4 Up 2 Osteria Francescana Italy The Chefs’ Choice sponsored by Electrolux
5 Down 2 The Fat Duck England  
6 Up 1 Alinea USA The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In North America
7 Up 11 D.O.M Brazil The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In South America
8 Up 1 Arzak Spain  
9 Up 2 Le Chateaubriand France  
10 Per Se USA  
11 Down 3 Daniel USA  
12 Up 12 Les Creations de Narisawa Japan The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In Asia
13 Up 3 L’Astrance France  
14 Up 15 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon France  
15 Up 2 Hof van Cleve Belgium  
16 Down 3 Pierre Gagnaire France  
17 Up 2 Oud Sluis Netherlands  
18 Down 3 Le Bernardin USA  
19 Re-Entry L’Arpege France  
20 Up 28 Nihonryori RyuGin Japan Highest Climber Sponsored by Lavazza
21 Up 1 Vendome Germany  
22 Down 1 Steirereck Austria  
23 Up 7 Schloss Schauenstein Switzerland  
24 Up 26 Eleven Madison Park USA  
25 Up 9 Aqua Germany  
26 Up 1 Quay Australia The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In Australasia
27 Up 1 Iggy’s Singapore  
28 Up 7 Combal Zero Italy  
29 Up 4 Martin Berasategui Spain  
30 Re-Entry Bras France  
31 Up 15 Biko Mexico  
32 Down 12 Le Calandre Italy  
33 Re-Entry Cracco Italy  
34 New Entry The Ledbury UK Highest New Entry Sponsored by Silestone
35 Down 12 Chez Dominique Finland  
36 Down 5 Le Quartier Francais South Africa The Acqua Panna Best Restaurant In The Middle East and Africa
37 New Entry Amber China  
38 Down 2 Dal Pescatore Italy  
39 Up 1 Il Canto Italy  
40 Down 14 Momofuku Ssam Bar USA  
41 Up 2 St John UK  
42 New Entry Astrid Y Gaston Peru  
43 Up 6 Hibiscus UK  
44 Maison Troisgros France  
45 Down 4 Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee France  
46 Down 9 De Librije Netherlands  
47 Down 33 Restaurant de l’Hotel De Ville Switzerland  
48 New Entry Varvary Russia  
49 New Entry Pujol Mexico  
50 Re-Entry Asador Etxebarri Spain  

 The S. Pellegrino awards are organised by The Restaurant  magazine, and the award-winning restaurants are nominated by and voted for by “800 international restaurant industry experts”, says the S. Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants website. “What constitutes ‘best’ is left to the judgement of these trusted and well-travelled gourmets.  There is no pre-determined check-list of criteria”, the website says, and the results are a “simple computation of votes”.  The World’s 50 Best Restaurants is an ‘honourable survey of current tastes and a credible indicator of the best places to eat round the globe”.  There are no requirements for eligibility for the ranking, and the length of time that the restaurant has been open, and the culinary awards won are not taken into consideration for the vote.   For the first time, a livestream presentation allowed one to watch the Awards ceremony from the comfort of one’s home, making one feel part of the ceremony.

Other Awards presented were the following:

*  2011 One to Watch: Frantzen & Lindeberg from Stockholm (number 57) 

*   Lifetime Achievement Award: Juan Mari Arzak (number eight)

*   Chef’s Choice:   Osteria Francescana (number 4)

*   Fastest Climber: Nihonryori Ryugin of Japan (number 20)

*   World’s Best Female Chef: Anne-Sophie Pic, of Maison Pic, first female Michelin three star chef in France

Last year Noma also was named the Best Restaurant in the world, with chef René Redzepi at the helm.  Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, long in number one position, was second, and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck came third. Adria withdrew from this year’s awards, as he is closing his restaurant for an indefinite period of time.

Tamsin Snyman heads up the Southern African judging team, stepping into her late mother Lannice Snyman’s shoes.   Lannice held this position for years.  What is odd is that the performance of South African restaurants on the Wold’s 50 Best Restaurants and Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards  has been so different, Le Quartier Français’ Tasting Room consistently having done well on the international Awards list, even when it did not make the Eat Out list in the past.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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