New York, one of the culinary capitals of the world, is now home to the finest culinary establishment on planet Earth, according to a controversial but influential restaurant guide. Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s Eleven Madison Park, a tasting menu spot famous for its nuclear-powered hospitality — from Googling guest preferences, to leaving bottles of Calvados on the table at the end of the meal (“have as much as you want”) and sending every patron home with a souvenir granola jar — has ascended to the top spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
A wine-paired dinner for two at the restaurant costs over $1,000.
The annual rankings, which have been criticized for their tendency to favor pricey tasting menus, their paucity of female-run restaurants, and their casual attitude toward judges accepting free meals (and free flights from aggressive tourist boards) were announced at a ceremony in Melbourne, Australia, this evening.
Women chefs helm just three of the 50 spots on the list — one more than last year. The only new restaurant with a female chef to make the list is Cosme, Enrique Olvera’s acclaimed and expensive Mexican spot in New York. The restaurant’s chef de cuisine is Daniela Soto-Innes. Worth noting: The kitchens at all three restaurants on the list with female chefs — Arzak, Central, and Cosme — happen to be co-run by male chefs.
Eleven Madison Park is the first U.S. restaurant to ascend to the top of the list since 2004, when the French Laundry in Napa Valley occupied the coveted spot. No Asian, Australian, African, or South American restaurants have won the title of World’s Best. In fact there’s not a single African restaurant on the top 50 list this year.
Noma, the groundbreaking Nordic establishment that held the top spot for four non-consecutive years, has fallen off the list; this comes as no surprise as restaurants that are closed, or that are about to close, are not eligible to be included.
Chef René Redzepi, who became a global culinary superstar by championing indigenous ingredients over European imports, relying on foraging for inspiration, and using of live insects on a long tasting menu, is currently operating a pop-up Noma in Tulum, Mexico; in fact he’s probably cooking up some driftwood yakitori on the binchotan right now. He’ll reopen and relocate the brick-and-mortar flagship in Copenhagen sometime soon, at which time it will surely rejoin the top 10.
It was a huge year for Paris. The highest new entry went to the cumbersomely named Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen at 31, while the frighteningly expensive Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée — the tasting menu is €390 — is back on the list at 13. L’Arpege climbed to the 12 spot, despite a devastating review from this critic, while L’Astrance re-joined the ranks at 46. Septime, an affordably priced but devlishly difficult-to-get-into neo-bistrot, rose to 35.
The awards are independently adjudicated by the global consulting firm Deloitte. The roughly 1,500-person voting panel come from a pool equally made up of food writers, chefs and restaurateurs, and well-traveled gastronomes. The voting appears to be a touch different than in previous years. Judges now have 10 votes, up from seven, with four applying towards restaurants outside of their home reach, up from three. From a percentage basis, this technically means judges have a little bit less of a say in regions that aren’t their own. And while the voters are required to remain anonymous, they face no requirement to actually pay for their meals. This stands in contrast to the professional conduct of most critics, including Michelin inspectors, who, in an effort to remain independent and unbiased, are not permitted to accept freebies.
Here’s the full list:
1. Eleven Madison Park (New York City)
Chef: Daniel Humm
Last year's rank: 3
Average cost: $295
2. Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy)
Chef: Massimo Bottura
Last year's rank: 1
Average cost: €220-€250
3. El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)
Chef: Joan Roca
Last year's rank: 2
Average cost: €165-€195 (USD $184-$218)* 2015 pricing.
4. Mirazur (Menton, France)
Chef: Mauro Colagreco
Last year's rank: 6
Average cost: €110-€210
5. Central (Lima)
Chef: Virgilio Martinez, Pia Leon
Last year's rank: 4
Average cost: S/.348-428
6. Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain)
7. Gaggan (Bangkok)
8. Maido (Lima)
9. Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)
10. Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)
11. Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, New York)
12. L’Arpège (Paris)
13. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (Paris)
14. Restaurant Andre (Singapore)
15. Piazza Duomo (Alba, Italy)
16. D.O.M. (São Paulo)
17. Le Bernardin (New York City)
18. Narisawa (Tokyo)
19. Geranium (Copenhagen)
20. Pujol (Mexico City)
21. Alinea (Chicago)
22. Quintonil (Mexico City)
23. White Rabbit (Moscow)
24. Amber (Hong Kong)
25. Tickets (Barcelona)
26. The Clove Club (London)
27. The Ledbury (London)
28. Nahm (Bangkok)
29. Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)
30. Arzak (San Sebastian, Spain)
31. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen (Paris)
32. Attica (Melbourne)
33. Astrid y Gastón (Lima)
34. De Librije (Zwolle, Netherlands)
35. Septime (Paris)
36. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London)
37. Saison (San Francisco)
38. Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain)
39. Relae (Copenhagen)
40. Cosme (New York City)
41. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (Shanghai)
42. Boragó (Santiago, Chile)
43. Reale (Castel Di Sangro, Italy)
44. Brae (Birregurra, Australia)
45. Den (Tokyo)
46. L’Astrance (Paris)
47. Vendôme (Cologne, Germany)
48. Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin)
49. Tegui (Buenos Aires)
50. Hof Van Cleve (Kruishoutem, Belgium)
Best Female Chef: Ana Roš (Hiša Franko, Slovenia)
Best Pastry Chef: Dominique Ansel (Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck, UK)
One to Watch: Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)
Sustainable Restaurant Award: Septime (Paris)
Chef’s Choice Award: Virgilio Martinez (Central, Lima)
Art of Hospitality Award: El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)