Monday, 3 May 2010

The S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, 2010: As it happened...


Eyjafjallajokull would have been the word on everybody's lips, if they could pronounce it, leading up to the S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards in London. Fortunately, the Icelandic volcano decided to stop spewing its ash into Europe's airspace in the days leading up to the prestigious event, and the world's best chefs and greediest media were able to convene upon the historic Guildhall for a night that was to signal a new order for the world's top restaurants. Here's how it unfolded.

Ferran Adria of El Bulli arrives alongside Juan Mari Arzak of Arzak, and, as if by magic, some journalists appear.

Heston Blumenthal grabs a cheeky kiss, hoping that journalists and nosy bloggers would be more interested in the man wearing Noddy Holder's trousers behind him. You were wrong, Heston.

Richard Haward's oysters proved a popular source of zinc at the Slow Food Market inside the Guildhall. Special mentions must also go to Oliver's Cider & Perry and Butford Organics for their fine, crisp English perry (both from Herefordshire), not to mention Great Glen Game of Inverness-shire for their dry-cured, oak-smoked wild venison. Needless to say, it was all duly sampled.

Either somebody's wearing a hilarious pair of shoes, or Eckart Witzigmann is merely delighted at receiving the  2010 Lifetime Achievement Award. Rainer Becker, co-founder of Zuma restaurant,  presents the gong to the legendary Austrian chef.

Ferran Adria gets emotional as he receives a special 'chef of the decade' award, sparking a flurry of whispers as to a possible change at the top of the 50 Best list.

And the whisperers were right. Rene Redzepi of Noma scoops the prize as his Copenhagen restaurant is named the best restaurant in the world, 2010.

For a moment it looks like Redzepi has had one of Heston Blumenthal's dodgy oysters, but the Dane is merely showing his gut-felt appreciation for his Gambian dishwasher, Ali. The man whose face adorns the Noma boys' t-shirts was denied a visa for travel to the UK, and was unable to join them for the awards.

Oh-oh! Ferran Adria holds his nose, Heston Blumenthal looks as if he's about to pass out, and (in the background) Fergus Henderson of St John restaurant offers a startled expression. Meanwhile, Juan Mari Arzak chortles cheekily.

"We still on for that Big Mac later?" Heston Blumenthal and Rene Redzepi share a private moment.

Their secret dinner-date agreed, Heston and Rene pose for the cameras...

... and some Catalan bloke crashes the party. The men behind the three best restaurants in the world (that is if you pay any attention to awards ceremonies): Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck (3rd), Ferran Adria of El Bulli (2nd) and Rene Redzepi of Noma (1st).  

The full list is here (1-50) and here (51-100). Sadly, no Middle East restaurants made the top 100.


  1. Great to see a report from someone in our region (slight shade of emerald that it wasn't me!). Really like the comments with your pics.

  2. Thank you Sally, always nice to get feedback. If I hear of any spare tickets going next year, I'll let you know. I was disappointed that no Middle East restaurants made the top 100 this year, but hopefully that will change next time. We need more representation in this event, because this is a big part of the world with some great restaurants.

  3. Wow! I'll hold you to that promise! What are the top 50 (or even top 10) in the Middle East in your opinion? (And are any in Beirut because I'm going there next week?)!

  4. I think it's impossible to talk of top tens in the Middle East, or anywhere else, for that matter as it's such a subjective issue. As others have pointed out, the S. Pellegrino list is good for getting people talking about restaurants, but it can't be definitive. As for Beirut, there are one or two places you can get great Lebanese food, such as Abdel Wahab, Sultan Ibrahim (for seafood), and Le Chef in Gemmayze for its daily dishes and warm welcome (you'll see what I mean). If you go to Byblos, there's a brilliant seafood place overlooking the sea, but the name escapes me. Let me know if you find anywhere good.

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