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World's 50 Best 2013 Hangover Observations

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The brothers Roca.
The brothers Roca.

[Photos: Amy McKeever /]

Last night in London, chefs and restaurateurs from some of the world's most well-known restaurants gathered at the Guildhall for the announcement of the 2013 World's 50 Best Restaurants (see the full list here). Over the course of the next several hours, there was much champagne, posing for pictures, and man-hugging to be seen throughout the hall. Once the guests had demolished the champagne at the reception after the awards, of course, it was time for the after parties. Here now are your hangover observations, including Elena Arzak, Nadia Santini, Massimo Bottura, Quique Dacosta, Jordi Roca, and many, many more.

Duongporn 'Bo' Songvisava, Nadia Santini, Elena Arzak, Massimo Bottura, Antonio Santini [Photo: Amy McKeever /]

1) Among the various pre-parties going on across London, Elena Arzak hosted a mostly-ladies champagne lunch at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction to honor Nadia Santini, the World's Best Female Chef 2013. It was an honor that Arzak herself had won the previous year. Also present was Duongporn 'Bo' Songvisava, who was named Asia's best female chef earlier this year for her work at her Bangkok restaurant Bo.lan. Massimo Bottura dropped by to congratulate his friend and mentor Santini.

2) Though she didn't directly address the controversy regarding whether there needs to be a separate award for female chefs, Santini talked about having passion for people and for food and said that, as chefs, "women may have different flavors, but it's important to be different."

3) Chefs started gathering in the courtyard of the Guildhall a couple of hours before the awards began to mingle with fellow chefs from their home countries and friends from other ends of the world. This is around the time that the 50 Best list was leaked online and word is that the El Celler de Can Roca guys were mobbed upon arrival.

Dan Giusti, Rosio Sanchez of Noma [Photo: Amy McKeever /]

4) There had been speculation for some time whether Noma would drop from the top-ranked restaurant to the second-ranked. Before the awards began, newly-installed head chef Dan Giusti said that the Noma team knew it had to happen sometime and hoped it wouldn't be this year but that they were just there to have a good time with friends. Some folks in the hall were gossiping that René Redzepi was just relieved to have that over with, though he managed to mostly avoid the media scrum afterward where he surely would have been asked about it in 50 different ways.

5) Announcer Mark Durden-Smith tried to build up suspense as to whether this would be the year Noma was finally unseated, but by that point a lot of people in the hall had already seen the leaked list. Oh well.

6) All other awards ceremonies could learn a lesson from the rapid pacing of this one, where winners were literally asked not to give speeches when they came to the stage for their awards.

7) Not many chefs received standing ovations from their peers in the hall, but among them were Nadia Santini, Grant Achatz (who won the Chefs Choice award this year) and the final top tier of winners.

8) That said, there was a lot of mutual appreciation going on. Spotted in mid-hug or arm-draping: Heston Blumenthal and Alex Atala, René Redzepi and Grant Achatz, Massimo Bottura and Quique Dacosta, the whole Noma team after officially being named second place and much more. Juan Mari Arzak gave his daughter Elena a kiss on the cheek when their restaurant took eighth place and Eric Ripert gave his wife a kiss too when Le Bernardin was called.

9) Though Alain Ducasse was not in London for the awards, the lifetime achievement award winner pre-recorded a video in which he said that the future of cuisine depends on three things: the passion of the upcoming class of chefs, the fraternity among chefs and on the diversity of the gastronomic world.

10) Here are the geographic awards within the awards. Best Restaurant in Australasia: Attica (also the highest ranked new entrant to the list at #21). Best Restaurant in Asia: Narisawa. Best Restaurant in South America: D.O.M. Best Restaurant in North America: Eleven Madison Park. The highest climber in the awards ranking was Astrid y Gaston at #14, and the chefs' choice winner at #15 was Achatz's Alinea.

11) Not many Americans in sight apart from the US winners, but Daniel Patterson and Drew Nieporent were there.

12) In keeping with the spirit of fraternity that ran through speeches and various other events that had taken place over the weekend, chefs kept on message in their post-awards interviews about what an honor it was just to be in the top 50.

13) Massimo Bottura, whose Italian restaurant Osteria Francescana climbed to third place on the list, said he was "very emotional" about the warm reception he'd had in the hall. Bottura said he had felt things clicking at the restaurant this year, but hadn't been sure they'd move up in the rankings. Bottura reflected on how his win was also for his team and his purveyors and more, saying, "It's a dream. It's a message of hope for all the younger generation. If they see me as an example of what I'm doing, keep researching, keep investing. It's a beautiful message for everyone."

Jordi Roca of El Celler de Can Roca [Photo: Amy McKeever /]

14) Jordi Roca, pastry chef and youngest brother of El Celler de Can Roca said he was feeling amazing and relieved to finally take the top spot after two years in second place after Noma. On the Spanish domination of the top of the awards, Roca brought up the economic crisis and Spain and said he hoped the country's gastronomic place in the world might be able to help. Topping the World's 50 Best is the biggest award for El Celler de Can Roca in its history, he said, though obviously they have yet to see the real effects. Compared to having Michelin stars, Roca noted that 50 Best is obviously more controversial in its selection process, but also has a bigger voice so this award is more important than having a third Michelin star.

15) After the awards, most of the hall made its way downstairs for a boozy reception with small bites from London's 10-month-old Lima. A lot of the top winners, though, were up on stage long after the awards giving five-minute interviews to journalists from France, Spain, Japan and beyond.

16) When they'd finally shut the Guildhall down, revelers had a couple of after-party options, including Roka and The Clove Club, London's hot new restaurant from the Young Turks' Isaac McHale. At The Clove Club, McHale and his team were sending out tons of buttermilk fried chicken and pine, wood pigeon sausages and really amazing stuffed sandwiches.

17) Random sampling of those spotted at The Clove Club: René Redzepi, Lars Williams, Magnus Nilsson, Enrique Olvera, and Niklas Ekstedt. DJ and designer Trevor Jackson was making people dance, and probably no one was having more fun on the dancefloor than Massimo Bottura.

Additional World's 50 Best Coverage

· Lisa Abend: Can Roca Ousts Noma as World's Best Restaurant [Time]
· Spain Ascendent [Economist]
· Inside the Best Restaurant in the World [Guardian]
· I'm the Elder Statesman of British Chefs, Says Heston Blumenthal [Telegraph]
· El Celler de Can Roca Head Chef Credits Brothers For Success [Telegraph]
· Top N. American Winners at World's 50 Best Restaurants [Steve Dolinsky]

· All Hangover Observations on Eater [-E-]
· All World's 50 Best Coverage on Eater [-E-]