For the second year in row, Chef Rene Redzepi’s Noma was voted the world’s best restaurant in the annual San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants poll, which is compiled by over 800 industry experts for Britain’s Restaurant Magazine.
Noma first garnered attention in last year’s voting, when it ousted Ferran Adria’s El Bulli from the number one spot. Located in a restored warehouse in the historic Christianshavn district of Copenhagen, the restaurant has gained fame for its interpretation of traditional Danish cooking. “Rene Redzepi’s name has become synonymous with the new guard of global cuisine,” claims the magazine.
“Noma is not about olive oil, foie gras, sun-dried tomatoes and black olives,” says Redzepi, who scours the Scandanavian countries for indigenous foods such as sea urchin, pulses (edible seeds), halibut and Greenland musk ox. He does his own smoking, salting, pickling, drying, grilling and baking; prepares his own vinegars and distilled spirits; makes liberal use of herbs, spices and wild plants in his quest to bring about “a revival of Nordic cuisine.” The results of his labors are presented to diners in the form of a 12-course menu that takes more than four hours to consume.
At 33, Redzepi is regarded by many as one of the world’s most interesting chefs, but the Michelin Guide has yet to agree. He held on to his two-star rating for 2011 but failed to achieve the third star that would place him, for many, at the apex of the culinary pyramid. Several of the other top restaurants also lacked three Michel stars, such as Spain’s Mugaritz (#3), Italy’s Osteria Francescana (4) and Le Chateaubriand in Paris (9). Brazil’s D.O.M., which came in at number 7, is located in a region where Michelin has not yet ventured.
Rounding out the Top 10 were El Celler de Can Roca (2), run by three brothers in the Spanish city of Girona; The Fat Duck in Bray, England (5), owned by molecular-inspired chef Heston Blumenthal; Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago (6), another bastion of molecular cuisine, and Per Se (10) in Manhattan, the East coast outpost of superstar chef Thomas Keller.