STORIES

And the World's No. 1 Restaurant Is…

By David Jenison on April 10, 2017

The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards took place on Wednesday, and the top restaurant for 2017 is Eleven Madison Park in New York City. The Daniel Humm-helmed hot spot, which previously peaked at No. 3, is the first chart-topper for any NYC restaurant. The U.S. previously took the No. 1 spot in 2003 and 2004 with French Laundry in Northern California. 

Chris Sayegh, host of the upcoming PRØHBTD series Braized and Confused, previously worked as a stage (or culinary apprentice) at Eleven Madison Park. However, Sayegh was unable to confirm the rumor that Eleven Madison servers often play "hooker or daughter" in reference to certain guests. 

The awards, produced by the British trade publication Restaurant and now in its 16th year, have been described as the Olympics of Food. The ceremony, which usually takes place in London, was held in Melbourne, Australia this year. The ranking is based on a global poll of top chefs, food critics, restaurateurs and gourmands. 

Last year, Italy took home its first No. 1 finish with Massimo Bottura's Osteria Francescana in Modena, which slipped back to No. 2. Likewise, Spanish powerhouse El Celler de Can Roca dropped to No. 3, marking the first time since 2010 that it was not in one of the top two spots. Between 2011 and 2015, El Celler de Can Roca and Denmark's Noma played musical chairs at Nos. 1 and 2, with El Celler crowning the list in 2013 and 2015 (and winning the Chef's Choice Award in 2016). Noma is not on the current list as it's temporarily closed and preparing for a new iteration. 

Mirazur inched up to No. 4 marking the highest-ever position for a restaurant in France. The French regularly claim the 50 Best list is biased against them, and Mirazur won't silence the doubters: The Menton-based restaurant is helmed by an Argentine-Italian chef who does not cook traditional French fare. 

Lima, Peru was the only city to land a pair of Top 10 restaurants with Central down a spot at No. 5 and PRØHBTD fave Maido up five spots at No. 8. Spain, meanwhile, was the only country with three Top 10 entries with El Celler de Can Roca at No. 3, Asador Etxebarri at No. 6 and the beloved San Sebastian restaurant Mugaritz at No. 9. 

Gaggan, an Indian restaurant in Bangkok, jumped 16 spots to No. 8. The eponymous restaurant, named after chef Gaggan Anand, has held the top spot on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants for the past three years, but it dropped from No. 10 to 23 on the World list last year before making a huge comeback in 2017. Chef Anand's dishes have included playful names like Magic Mushrooms and Bong Connection. 

The cuisine of Catalonia, an autonomous region in Spain, has been the global leader on the rankings since the start. elBulli, the inaugural winner, hit No. 1 five times overall before closing in 2011. Former elBulli chefs now helm restaurants like Celler de Can Roca, Gaggan and Barcelona's Disfrutar, which missed the list at No. 55 but took home the One to Watch award. Catalonia/Spain's seven first-place trophies top Denmark's four for Noma, California's two for French Laundry (which has since fallen hard to No. 68) and the single-year wins for England's Fat Duck and the aforementioned Eleven Madison Park (NYC) and Osteria Francescana (Italy). 

Speaking of elBulli, Ferran and Albert Adria now have a six-restaurant group called elBarri clustered together in Barcelona with Albert overseeing the menus. The flagship elBarri restaurant, Tickets, continues to climb, up four spots to No. 25. Tickets debuted on the 50 Best list in 2015 at No. 43. 

The World's 50 Best also gives out specific individual awards. Among the highlights, Ana Ros of Hisa Franko in Slovenia won Best Female Chef, NYC's Dominique Ansel won Best Pastry Chef and Virgilio Martinez of Central won Chef's Choice Award. 

PRØHBTD's take on the awards? The latest rankings often lag a few years behind the restaurant's current excellence and experience, meaning their 2017 placement does not always reflect where they should be. For this reason, gastronomy tourists should look at how many positions a restaurant ascended from previous years, not its current ranking, when mapping out which international restaurants to prioritize. 

David Jenison (david@prohbtd.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD. Eleven Madison Park photo credit: Pinterest.

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