By Kate Krader
Mirazur in Menton, France, is the No. 1 restaurant in the world.
This is the first time chef Mauro Colagreco and his sunny Provencal dining room have clinched the top spot; previously the restaurant was No. 3. This is also the first time France has gotten the No. 1 spot since the awards began 18 years ago.
That’s in part because executives behind the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list made a profound change to the rules this year, decreeing that no previous winner can be number one again — or even be ranked on the list.
Previous winners have now been relegated to a ‘Best of the Best’ category. That includes Osteria Francescana, Massimo Bottura’s modernist restaurant in Modena which has won the award twice; Eleven Madison Park, which took the top spot in 2017; El Cellar de Can Roca; and the original Noma.
But the 2.0 version of Noma, which is set in a different location in Copenhagen with a new menu format, is eligible for the top spot and in fact sky-rocketed to the No. 2 place on the list. William Drew, Group Editor of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, says the criteria they used, which included location and menu concept, was not just to allow Noma, one of the world’s highest profile dining spots, to be in contention. “The aim is to have an objective set of criteria that prevails over time,” he says. Leading up to the announcement, which took place in Singapore on the evening of June 25th before an audience, Noma was an insider favorite to clinch the top spot.
The Best of the Best is a convenient landing place for some formerly top ranked restaurants that have been falling on the list, like the Fat Duck in Bray in England, which last year came in at No. 74. Nonetheless, chef/owner Heston Blumenthal is sanguine about the experience: “If you get on the list, lap it up, bathe in the warmth of it, but just do your work. Nothing is permanent.”
Mirazur sits at the foot of a mountain and is housed in a 1930s building looking out over the sea, just inside France’s border with Italy. The Argentine-born chef draws inspiration from the region, serving vegetables from his own gardens and other local produce to create colorful Mediterranean dishes. Colagreco’s signature creation is oyster with tapioca, shallot cream and pear. The lunch menu costs 160 euros ($180) while the full menu is 260 euros.
“What a great year. Three Michelin stars and No. 1 all in the same year,” said Colagreco while accepting the award. “It’s a year I shall remember forever. I don’t have words to explain. I own the sky!”
He says the next step after basking in the awards is to expand his ‘little’ 5-acre gardens into something greater. “We are fantastic producers, winemakers—we are a little paradise. Our vision is to share and to try to give love and to live happily with our work. It is a simple vision, but is is a vision of life.”
The World’s 50 Best committee also announced that it is highlighting diversity in advance of the ceremony. According to the website, voters are asked to “take issues of representation and reputation into consideration with their choices.”
This year, the list was also expanded from 100 to 120 to coincide the list’s leading sponsor, San Pellegrino, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary. It’s a ‘one-off’ expansion, according to Drew.
The restaurants appearing on the list from 51-120 were released ahead of time. That half of the list included restaurants from 25 countries, which demonstrates one good reason to expand the list, advertiser anniversaries notwithstanding. The expansion also makes it easier to highlight restaurants in cities that never caught the 50 Best’s attention before, like Alcade in Guadalajara, Mexico (109 on the list). “We embraced the opportunity to showcase an even more diverse range of restaurants,” says Drew.
A lot of the buzz around the awards are the drops—and this was a year that saw more dramatic movement than usual. Besides Noma, Atelier Crenn in San Francisco entered the list at No. 35 and The Chairman, a Cantonese spot with dishes like flowery crab with aged Chinese wine, was another new entry at No. 41. The host city, Singapore, cracked the top 20: the elegant Odette moved up to No. 18.
Among the notable demotions on the list were Attica in Melbourne, which fell an astonishing 64 spots, to No. 84 from 20. Also eye-brow raising were perennial favorites Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain, to No. 53 from 31, and D.O.M. in São Paulo, which fell to No. 54 from 30.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list is organized and compiled by William Reed Business Media. It is created from the votes of 1,040 restaurateurs, chefs, food writers, and foodies.