The world’s most influential chefs meet in Barcelona for the 50 Best list anniversaryCultureFood & DrinksNews & features
What a day for the global gastronomy. Yesterday the World’s 50 Best Restaurants celebrated 15 years at the forefront of the culinary scene by hosting a unique day of discussion and celebration in Barcelona, Spain. The event brought together world-renowned chefs Ferran Adrià, René Redzepi, Joan Roca, Massimo Bottura and Daniel Humm, each of whom has had a restaurant at No 1 in the 50 Best list over the last decade and a half.
This historic gathering at Antigua Fábrica Estrella Damm celebrated both the past and the present and raised a glass to the future, with each of the world-beating chefs outlining his personal vision for the future of gastronomy at the special edition of #50BestTalks.
Massimo Bottura: Feeding mind, body and soul
Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana spoke passionately of his non-profit cultural project Food for Soul and how he believes chefs, artisans, food suppliers and public and private organisations have a social responsibility to combat food waste whilst simultaneously helping those in need to feed their bodies, minds and souls through education and inclusion.
Ferran Adrià: Sapiens – transferring knowledge to future generations
The celebrated Catalan chef of El Bulli – still considered the number one of all number ones – discussed how the uncensored sharing of information on food, cuisine and culture with other chefs and gourmets will further the creative processes both in and out of the kitchen. Understanding food from every facet, whether through molecular architecture, agriculture, biology or history of its origin, is essential for posterity and gastronomic growth. He also shared memories of that year when Bottura, Redzepi and Achatz worked together at his legendary restaurant.
Daniel Humm and Will Guidara: Back to basics – refocusing on deliciousness and graciousness
Daniel Humm and Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park discussed the need to reflect on and gain a deeper understanding of the past in order to move forward and grow as chefs and restaurateurs. Speaking of their own quest for gastronomic enlightenment, they revealed that the perfect recipe for the ultimate fine dining experience, much like their partnership, is the synergy of deliciousness and graciousness.
Joan Roca: The philosophy of family – A future model for gastronomy
Joan Roca touched on his desire to create a well-balanced working environment in the world of fine dining, one that focuses on the well-being of staff and is reminiscent of the thing he holds most dear – family. Speaking passionately about what he calls the humanisation of gastronomy, Roca acknowledged that with acclaim and passion come long hours in the kitchen. To remedy this, he and his brothers have introduced two “teams” – one for lunch and one for dinner – at El Celler de Can Roca so their beloved staff can rest and spend time outside of the kitchen with family.
René Redzepi explored: Go wild – Discovering, tasting and exploring wild food
René Redzepi explored his vision of a world where the next generation rediscovers and connects with nature. He spoke of how, through his latest initiative, Vild Mad (Wild Food), he wants all children to learn how to forage and gain a greater understanding about the origins of food. He added that teaching kids to forage is as important as teaching them to read and write. You can download the Vild Mad app today for iPhone or Android.
Many of the chefs and restaurateurs on the list were present, and we spoke with them about their current and future projects. Ashley Palmer-Watts of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal shared with us their plans to open a Dinner-themed bar in London (at the Mandarin) and also a new Dinner restaurant abroad. The British chef was reluctant to disclose where but we managed to rule out Europe: maybe a US venture?
The Spanish master himself – Ferran Adrià – pointed out how the World’s 50 Best Restaurants sanctioned the end of the Michelin monopoly. The list filled a gap left by the red guide, which is based on national territories: the globalised nature of the current food scene. When asked about the future role of the El Bulli Foundation he invited us to relax and wait (watch our exclusive tour at El Bulli Foundation’s lab with Adrià here).
We also talked with Will Guidara, the front-of-house director of Eleven Madison Park, named the World’s Best Restaurant last April in Melbourne. For the first time chef de cuisine and maître d’ shared the stage as equals complementing each other. The New York restaurateur spoke with us about the newly launched summer house pop-up in the Hamptons while they renovate their Manhattan restaurant.
Bertrand Grébaut of Septime was still in awe after listening to the talks. The Parisian chef – number 35 this year with his restaurant – reflected on what is still inspiring him on a daily basis. We also asked him about the installation at the Cookbook, Art and Culinary Process exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Paris that showed him cooking food on the subway’s rail, and he seemed a little nostalgic of his past as a graffiti writer.
Rasmus Kofoed of Geranium – a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Copenhagen, number 19 on the list – stopped by for a quick chat with us. The Danish chef showed great humbleness as he told us how the list allowed him to get to know some of the world’s best chefs – now his friends – and their effect on his cooking.
Last but not least, the World’s 50 Best group editor William Drew showed pride and satisfaction about the evolution of the list throughout the years and the success of this Barcelona gathering, which saw some of the best chefs of our generation talking about their vision of cusine and the role of their restaurants and projects for the future generations.
Later in the day, a special gastronomic feast was curated by Ferran Adrià, whose restaurant El Bulli was the first ever No 1 in 2002, at the Bravo24 in the W Barcelona hotel. Chefs, media and VIPs from all over the world celebrated the growth and influence of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants over its 15-year history, with guests including Virgilio Martinez and Gastón Acurio from Peru, Richard Ekkebus from Hong Kong, Mauro Colagreco from France, Vladimir Mukhin from Russia and many more.
The afternoon of gastronomy was a true fiesta with a host of Barcelona-based and former El Bulli chefs re-creating Adrià’s contemporary take on global tapas. The teams of Tickets, Disfrutar (check out our visit and interview with them here), Estimar and La Barra de Carles Abellan cooked fantastic food to the guests’ delight. The final piece was a remarkable two-metre-high cake that was created to mark the unique occasion.
In 2002, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants was born as a simple feature idea in a small specialist magazine. It morphed into an awards ceremony in 2003 and grew up to become a giant of the gastronomic world. Over the last 15 years it has evolved from the original list that was created with the help of around 70 people to a sophisticated process with more than 1,000 voters spread across the world and generating a worldwide media storm around the announcement of the list.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants has been on a sensational journey and as it celebrates the “superchefs” who have helped shape the global culinary landscape over the last 15 years, it is clear that the future of food, restaurants and gastronomy is in good hands.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
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