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Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Lima, and Singapore are a few of the non-European cities that have entrant in the top 50, but the Euro-centric list could learn a few things from rival Michelin's focus, as well as fellow upstart The Miele Guide.

El Celler de Can Roca, a Spanish family establishment, last night headed the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, toppling Noma.

The awards for Restaurant magazine, sponsored by San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, are selected in a vote by food writers, chefs and gourmets. El Celler, run by three brothers north of Barcelona, spent two years in second place behind Copenhagen’s Noma, which now ranks second.

“The Roca brothers’ restaurant has gained global acclaim for its combination of Catalan dishes and cutting-edge techniques and the passion that they share for hospitality,” the award organizers said in an e-mailed release.

Osteria Francescana, chef Massimo Bottura’s modern Italian restaurant in Modena, rises to third. Mugaritz, in San Sebastian, Spain, slips to fourth. Eleven Madison Park, New York, jumps five places to fifth.

The rankings are compiled by aggregating the votes of 26 regional panels, consisting of a chairman or chairwoman and 35 other people. (I head the U.K. and Ireland panel.) Each member picks seven restaurants, including at least three from outside his or her region, for a total of 936 votes worldwide.

The Top 10 is rounded out with D.O.M. (Sao Paulo), Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London), Arzak (San Sebastian), Steirereck (Vienna) and Vendome (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany).

“El Celler believes in free-style cooking, with a commitment to the avant-garde, but remaining faithful to the memory of different generations on the family’s ancestors,” the release said. “Joan heads up the kitchen, Jordi is head pastry chef and Josep is head sommelier, in charge of front of house.”

Adria Season

The brothers’ passion for food began in Can Roca, the bar their parents managed in Taiala, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Girona, according to El Celler’s website. Joan and Josep opened El Celler next door in 1986 before Joan spent a season with Ferran Adria at El Bulli in 1989.

El Celler won its first Michelin star in 1995, its second in 2002 and the third in 2009. Among the dishes that have made it famous is Iberian suckling pig with pepper sauce and garlic and quince terrine. The tasting menu costs 130 euros ($170).

If you want to go, act fast: Rene Redzepi of Noma says that the day after his restaurant won the award, 100,000 people tried to book online, enough to fill Noma for years.

The World’s 50 Best results are often controversial and this year’s list will do nothing to enhance their reputation in France. The highest French entry is Alain Passard’s Paris restaurant, L’Arpege, at 16th. Most of France’s grand gastronomic establishments don’t make the list at all.

Ducasse Thanks

Passard and Joel Robuchon were the only chefs in the Top 50 who didn’t attend. Others came from as far afield as Australia, Japan, Mexico and Peru. Alain Ducasse, who won for lifetime achievement, sent his thanks in a video message.

The chefs attended after-parties late into the night. Blumenthal, William Humm, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and the Roca brothers were among those in the basement bar at Roka. Across town, Redzepi and fellow Nordic chef Magnus Nilsson were at Clove Club, along with Bottura, who was dancing.

In the U.S. Per Se was at 11th was followed by Alinea (15th), Le Bernardin (19th), Daniel (29th) and French Laundry (47th).

In the U.K., the Ledbury was 13th, the Fat Duck 33rd, Viajante 59th, Hedone 70th, St. John 71st and Pollen Street Social 84th.

The awards started in 2002 as a feature in Restaurant magazine. Ex-editor Joe Warwick said he sent e-mails to chefs and journalists to pick their favorite places. U.K. venues did well: Gordon Ramsay was second and the Ivy eighth. El Bulli won.

Chefs Gather

The awards have grown into the biggest annual gathering of chefs from around the world. While the culinary masters are in London, they take part in other events.

This year, the leading Italian chefs prepared a lunch at Harrods. Others held an event at the Royal Geographical Society to promote their now book, “Cook It Raw.”

The Roca brothers hosted a breakfast at the Mandarin Oriental to announce a culinary opera — El Somni — which they are creating with the video artist Franc Aleu as well as musicians, painters, dancers and other artists.

There will be 12 acts, in which 12 diners will eat 12 courses. The premiere is in Barcelona next month, when the guests will include the chef Ferran Adria as well as Harold McGee, the American author whose writings on the science of food have inspired Heston Blumenthal and other chefs.

Previous winners are: El Bulli (2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009); French Laundry (2003, 2004); Fat Duck (2005); and Noma (2010, 2011, 2012).

Ranking Restaurant Locations Change (YOY)
1 El Celler de Can Roca Girona, Spain Up 1
2 Noma Copenhagen, Denmark Down 1
3 Osteria Francescana Modena, Italy Up 2
4 Mugaritz San Sebastian, Spain Down 1
5 Eleven Madison Park New York Up 5
6 D.O.M. Sao Paulo, Brazil Down 2
7 Dinner by Heston Blumenthal London Up 2
8 Arzak San Sebastian, Spain Unchanged
9 Steirereck Vienna Up 2
10 Vendome Bergisch Gladbach, Germany Up 13
11 Per Se New York Down 5
12 Frantzen/Lindeberg Stockholm Up 8
13 The Ledbury London Up 1
14 Astrid y Gaston Lima Up 21
15 Alinea Chicago Down 8
16 L’Arpege Paris Unchanged
17 Pujol Mexico City Up 19
18 Le Chateaubriand Paris Down 3
19 Le Bernardin New York Up 1
20 Narisawa Tokyo Up 7
21 Attica Melbourne New entry
22 Nihonryori RyuGin Tokyo Up 6
23 L’Astrance, Paris, down 5 Paris Down 6
24 L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joel Robuchon Paris Down 12
25 Hof Van Cleve Kruishoutem, Belgium Up 17
26 Quique Dacosta Denia, Spain Up 14
27 Le Calandre Rubano, Italy, up 5 Rubano, Italy up 5
28 Mirazur Menton, France Down 4
29 Daniel New York Down 4
30 Aqua Wolfsburg Germany Down 8
31 Biko Mexico City Up 7
32 Nahm Bangkok Up 18
33 Fat Duck Bray, U.K. Down 20
34 Faeviken Jarpen, Sweden Unchanged
35 Oud Sluis Sluis, Netherlands Down 14
36 Amber Hong Kong Up 8
37 Vila Joya Albufeira, Portugal Up 8
38 Restaurant Andre Sinapore New entry
39 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana Hong Kong New entry
40 Combal Zero Rivoli, Italy Re-entry
41 Piazza Duomo Alba, Italy New entry
42 Schloss Schauenstein Furstenau, Switzerland Down 12
43 Mr & Mrs Bund Shanghai New entry
44 Asador Etxebarri Atxondo, Spain Down 13
45 Geranium Copenhagen Up 4
46 Mani Sao Paulo New entry
47 The French Laundry Yountville, U.S. Down 4
48 Quay Sydney Down 19
49 Septime Paris New entry
50 Centra Lima New entry
51 Pierre Gagnaire Paris
52 Manresa Los Gatos, U.S.
53 Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais Franschhoek, S. Africa
54 La Grenouillere La Madelaine sous Montreuil, France
55 Mathias Dahlgren Stockholm
56 Restaurant Relae Copenhagen
57 De Librije Zwolle, Netherlands
58 Coi San Francisco
59 Viajante London
60 Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet Shanghai
61 The Test Kitchen Cape Town
62 La Vie Osnabruck, Germay
63 Blue Hill at Stone Barns Westchester, U.S.
64 Martin Berasategui Lasarte-Oria, Spain
65 Iggy’s Singapore
66 Gaggan Bangkok
67 Chez Dominique Helsinki
68 Waku Ghin Singapore
69 Bras Laguiole, France
70 Hedone London
71 St. John London
72 In De Wulf Dranouter, Belgium
73 Caprice Hong Kong
74 Dal Pescatore Canneto sull’Oglio, Italy
75 Lung King Heen Hong Kong
76 Malabar Lima
77 Tickets Barcelona
78 Hertog Jan Bruges, Belgium
79 Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee Paris
80 Roberta Sudbrack Rio de Janeiro
81 Les Amis Singapore
82 Ristorante Cracco Milan
83 Die Schwarzwaldstube Baiersbronn, Germany
84 Pollen Street Social London
85 Tantris Munich
86 Momofuku Ssam Bar New York
87 Zuma Dubai
88 Hotel de Ville Crissier, Switzerland
89 Momofuku Seiobo Sydney
90 Bo Innovation Hong Kong
91 Masa New York
92 La Petite Maison Dubai
93 Momofuku Ko New York
94 La Maison Troisgros Roanne, France
95 Quintessence Tokyo
96 Le Louis XV Monte Carlo
97 Spondi Athens
98 Jean Georges New York
99 Le Meurice Paris
100 Varvary Moscow

Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.

Muse highlights include Hephzibah Anderson on books; and Greg Evans and Craig Seligman on film.

Editors: Mark Beech and Farah Nayeri.

To contact the writer on the story: Richard Vines in London at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at [email protected].


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Tags: food and drink, restaurants, spain

Photo credit: Signage outside of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain. E. Calamar / Flickr

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