The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2012

Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark has been named the best restaurant in the world for the third year in a row by Restaurant magazine’s World’s 50 Best list.

Chef Rene Redzepi has enjoyed a long run of media coverage over the past couple years including most recently gracing TIME magazine’s cover abroad. He was hailed one of the magazine’s Top 100 most influential people this year.

The top North American restaurant went to Per Se, which placed at number six. Thomas Keller’s New York fine dining palace beat out his Napa Valley restaurant, French Laundry, which placed at 43. Also on the top ten was Chicago’s Alinea (7) and New York’s Eleven Madison Park (10). Other notable American placements included Manresa (48) located outside of San Francisco, which returned to the list this year, and Momofuku Ssam Bar (37), Daniel (25) and Le Bernardin (19), all from New York City.  

As is the case with all food ranking lists, the World’s 50 Best has it share of detractors, though few other publications attempt to rank such a global list. The ranking has only been around for a decade. In the past 10 years, the list has zipped to one of the most recognizable restaurant ranking systems. While Michelin offers a comprehensive city-wide guide around the world, and Zagat covers most of the U.S., neither company attempts to rank the entire world in one list. Still there are plenty of discrepancies between Michelin and the World’s 50 Best. Noma, for example, has two — not three — Michelin stars.

In the past ten years, the World’s 50 Best list has continued to gain traction, and is now one of the few arenas where chefs from all over the world converge together. It can be hard to rank restaurants over such a wide span, so here is how the organization breaks it down:

The awards are decided by over 800 international restaurant industry experts, though there is no predetermined set of criteria, but rather just a simple computation of votes. The judges are divided into 27 different world regions, in which a chairman for each region appoints 30 jurors, including journalists, chefs and restaurateurs and food lovers. Each juror can vote for seven restaurants, and only four are allowed to be from the juror’s region.

Two awards were announced in advance of the Top 50 list. The title of Best Female Chef went to Elena Arzak, who is the fourth generation of her family to head Arzak restaurant in San Sebastián, Spain. The restaurant ranked eighth on the 2012 list. Thomas Keller received the Lifetime Achievement award. The magazine described Keller as “a true colossus of the gastronomic world.”

Check out the Top 50 winners below:

50. Nahm, Bangkok
49. Geranium, Denmark
48. Manresa, California
47. Bras, France
46. Il Canto, Italy
45. Villa Joya, Portugal
44. Amber, China
43. The French Laundry, California
42. Hof Van Cleve, Belgium
41. Mathias Dahlgren, Sweden
40. Quique Dacosta, Spain
39. Waku Ghin, Singapore

Signature dishes: Marinated Botan shrimp with sea urchin and caviar;
Australian wagyu with wasabi and citrus soy
Price: Degustation menu at S$400
Reservations: +65 6688 8507
Address: 10 Bayfront Avenue, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018956

38. Biko, Mexico
37. Momofuku Ssam Bar, New York
36. Pujol, Mexico
35. Astrid Y Gaston, Peru
34. Faviken, Sweden
33. De Librije, Netherlands
32. Le Calandre, Italy
31. Asador Etxebarri, Spain
30. Schloss Schauenstein, Switzerland
29. Quay, Sydney, Australia
28. Nihonryori RyuGin, Japan
27. Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
26. Iggy’s, Singapore: Best Restaurant In Asia

Signature dishes:Abalone, uni, celery root, mizuna; Pork belly, octopus, paprika, peppers; Pound cake, Earl grey, milk, crumble
Price: Lunch: $85; Diner: $250
Open Hrs:Mon-Fri 12pm-1:30pm; Mon-Sat: 7pm-9:30pm
Level 3, The Hilton Hotel 581 Orchard Rd 238883
Reservations:Tel: +6567322234; Text:+6581883200

25. Daniel, New York
24. Mirazur, France
23.Vendome, Germany
22. Aqua, Germany
21. Oud Sluis, Netherlands
20. Frantzén/Lindeberg, Sweden
19. Le Bernardin, New York, New York
18. L’Astrance, France
17. Pierre Gagnaire, France
16. L’Arpege, France
15. Le Chateaubriand, France
14. The Ledbury, United Kingdom: Highest Climber
13. The Fat Duck, United Kingdom
12. L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon, France
11. Steirereck, Austria

10. Eleven Madison Park: New York, New York
9. Dinner By Heston Blumenthal
8. Arzak: San Sebastian, Spain
7. Alinea: Chicago, Illinois
6. Per Se: New York, New York
2011 rank: #10
It’s pretty amazing that Thomas Keller can run two extremely heralded restaurants across the country, and receive glowing accolades for both. Per Se has been open for less than a decade but is already considered a New York fine dining institution.

5. Osteria Francescana: Modena, Italy
2011 rank: #4
Chef Massimo Bottura is a cerebral guy. He thinks about Italian food in a way that many Italian chefs don’t — while much of Italy is focused on rustic and regional cuisine, Bottura takes these concepts and modernizes them. Expect to see an homage to Bottura’s homeland in many of his dishes, but not in ways you’d expect.

4. D.O.M.: Sao Paolo, Brazil
2011 rank: #7
Run by a former DJ, D.O.M. restaurant utilizes native Brazilian ingredients such as the manioc tuber.

3. Mugaritz: Errenteria, Spain
2011 rank: #3
Now that El Bulli is closed, when people think of fine dining Spanish restaurant, Mugaritz is likely the be high on the list. The restaurant is about to release a stunning new cookbook. We’ve seen an early look — if this top restaurant wasn’t already on your radar, it should be.

2. El Celler De Can Roca: Gerona, Spain
2011 rank: #2
This restaurant has an interesting twist on desserts: pastries based on well-known perfumes. In fact, pastry chef Jordi Roca has gotten so interested in the medium, that he has reversed the idea and is making perfumes based on desserts as well.

1. Noma: Copenhagen, Denmark
2011 rank: #1
Rene Redzepi recently graced TIME magazine’s cover abroad, and was hailed one of the mag’s Top 100 most influential people. Noma was awarded the top spot in 2011 and 2010. We’re not quite sure where Redzepi can go from here — except maybe that third Michelin star.
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