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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).

RankingRestaurantLocationsChange (YOY)
1El Celler de Can RocaGirona, SpainUp 1
2NomaCopenhagen, DenmarkDown 1
3Osteria FrancescanaModena, ItalyUp 2
4MugaritzSan Sebastian, SpainDown 1
5Eleven Madison ParkNew YorkUp 5
6D.O.M.Sao Paulo, BrazilDown 2
7Dinner by Heston BlumenthalLondonUp 2
8ArzakSan Sebastian, SpainUnchanged
9SteirereckViennaUp 2
10VendomeBergisch Gladbach, GermanyUp 13
11Per SeNew YorkDown 5
12Frantzen/LindebergStockholmUp 8
13The LedburyLondonUp 1
14Astrid y GastonLimaUp 21
15AlineaChicagoDown 8
17PujolMexico CityUp 19
18Le ChateaubriandParisDown 3
19Le BernardinNew YorkUp 1
20NarisawaTokyoUp 7
21AtticaMelbourneNew entry
22Nihonryori RyuGinTokyoUp 6
23L’Astrance, Paris, down 5ParisDown 6
24L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joel RobuchonParisDown 12
25Hof Van CleveKruishoutem, BelgiumUp 17
26Quique DacostaDenia, SpainUp 14
27Le Calandre Rubano, Italy, up 5Rubano, Italyup 5
28MirazurMenton, FranceDown 4
29DanielNew YorkDown 4
30Aqua WolfsburgGermanyDown 8
31BikoMexico CityUp 7
32NahmBangkokUp 18
33Fat DuckBray, U.K.Down 20
34FaevikenJarpen, SwedenUnchanged
35Oud SluisSluis, NetherlandsDown 14
36AmberHong KongUp 8
37Vila JoyaAlbufeira, PortugalUp 8
38Restaurant AndreSinaporeNew entry
398 1/2 Otto E Mezzo BombanaHong KongNew entry
40Combal ZeroRivoli, ItalyRe-entry
41Piazza DuomoAlba, ItalyNew entry
42Schloss SchauensteinFurstenau, SwitzerlandDown 12
43Mr & Mrs BundShanghaiNew entry
44Asador EtxebarriAtxondo, SpainDown 13
45GeraniumCopenhagenUp 4
46ManiSao PauloNew entry
47The French LaundryYountville, U.S.Down 4
48QuaySydneyDown 19
49SeptimeParisNew entry
50CentraLimaNew entry
51Pierre GagnaireParis
52ManresaLos Gatos, U.S.
53Tasting Room at Le Quartier FrancaisFranschhoek, S. Africa
54La GrenouillereLa Madelaine sous Montreuil, France
55Mathias DahlgrenStockholm
56Restaurant RelaeCopenhagen
57De LibrijeZwolle, Netherlands
58CoiSan Francisco
60Ultraviolet by Paul PairetShanghai
61The Test KitchenCape Town
62La VieOsnabruck, Germay
63Blue Hill at Stone BarnsWestchester, U.S.
64Martin BerasateguiLasarte-Oria, Spain
67Chez DominiqueHelsinki
68Waku GhinSingapore
69BrasLaguiole, France
71St. JohnLondon
72In De WulfDranouter, Belgium
73CapriceHong Kong
74Dal PescatoreCanneto sull’Oglio, Italy
75Lung King HeenHong Kong
78Hertog JanBruges, Belgium
79Alain Ducasse au Plaza AtheneeParis
80Roberta SudbrackRio de Janeiro
81Les AmisSingapore
82Ristorante CraccoMilan
83Die SchwarzwaldstubeBaiersbronn, Germany
84Pollen Street SocialLondon
86Momofuku Ssam BarNew York
88Hotel de VilleCrissier, Switzerland
89Momofuku SeioboSydney
90Bo InnovationHong Kong
91MasaNew York
92La Petite MaisonDubai
93Momofuku KoNew York
94La Maison TroisgrosRoanne, France
96Le Louis XVMonte Carlo
98Jean GeorgesNew York
99Le MeuriceParis

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 To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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