ANTWERP, BELGIUM — The stars of the restaurant world converged last 5th of October 2021) for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2021, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, in Antwerp, Flanders. This year’s event saw restaurants from 26 countries across five continents place on the list, culminating in the announcement of a new No.1, as René Redzepi took to the stage to collect the double honours for his restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, as The World’s Best Restaurant 2021 and The Best Restaurant in Europe 2021.
Taking over the No.1 position from Mirazur, which has been elevated to the Best of the Best hall of fame, Noma has climbed from the No.2 spot in 2019 when it was announced as the Highest New Entry on the list in its fresh incarnation. Noma is joined in the top three by Geranium (No.2) also in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Asador Etxebarri (No.3) in Atxondo, Spain.
Noma’s accolade is a testament to Chef Redzepi and his team’s unerring focus on unusual seasonal ingredients – the menu is strictly seasonal, divided into three phases: seafood in the winter, vegetable in the summer, and game and forest in the autumn – foraged locally and brought to life in creative and complex ways on the plate. This new iteration of Noma (sometimes referred to as Noma 2.0) is eligible for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list due to three key changes from the original restaurant: its location, concept, and ownership. As such, it is considered a new restaurant. The previous version of Noma topped the 50 Best lists on four occasions, in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014.
William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: “Noma has arguably been the most influential restaurant of its generation, setting new standards in terms of research and ingredient sourcing, dish development, and presentation. It has become one of the most sought-after dining destinations by consumers from all over the world and we are delighted to announce it as this year’s No.1. It is also wonderful to see eight new restaurants making their debut as well as two re-entries after one of the most challenging periods the sector has seen. It has been an honour to witness the resilience and community spirit of so many restaurants on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and beyond.”
Spain and the US lead the way with six restaurants each in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list with Spain boasting two in the top 10: Asador Etxebarri (No.3) and Barcelona’s Disfrutar (No.5). Following close behind are Elkano (No.16) in Getaria and the evergreen Mugaritz (No.14) in San Sebastián. In the US, New York’s Cosme is No.22, San Francisco’s Benu No.28, and SingleThread No.37. Italy is also well represented with four restaurants on the list including new entrant Lido 84 in Gardone Riviera (No. 15), also the winner of the Highest New Entry Award, sponsored by Aspire Lifestyles.
South Africa makes a splash this year with new entry Wolfgat at No.50 winning Best Restaurant in Africa. Other new entrants into this year’s top 10 include Hong Kong’s The Chairman, rising 31 places to take the No.10 spot, earning it this year’s Highest Climber Award, sponsored by Alaska Seafood. Mexico’s City’s Pujol is No.9 and awarded Best Restaurant in North America. Odette in Singapore at No.8 moves up 10 places and is also awarded Best Restaurant in Asia, and Frantzén in Stockholm rises 15 places to No.6.
Basque grill master Victor Arguinzoniz wins the Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award. Voted on by his peers – the world’s leading chefs – it is awarded to a chef who has had a significant influence on the culinary community.
The Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award goes to Vienna’s Steirereck (No.12), a restaurant renowned for breaking the boundaries of Austrian cuisine. Under the tenure of Heinz and Birgit Reitbauer, the chef and front-of-house doyenne respectively, Steirereck has become a byword for cutting-edge cuisine rooted in the Styrian countryside, while every detail of service is gracefully orchestrated by Birgit, from the mouth-watering wine list to the sprawling cheese offering.
Boragó in Santiago, Chile (No.38) wins the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award 2021. This award is independently audited by Food Made Good Global – the international arm of the Sustainable Restaurant Association – which rates establishments in the list of 100 restaurants that self-nominate for the award based on set sustainability criteria.
Will Goldfarb of Room4Dessert in Bali, Indonesia, takes home The World’s Best Pastry Chef Award, sponsored by Cacao Barry. Goldfarb has been passionately focused on desserts throughout his career and centres much of his work on sustainability, growing plants and herbs for his own restaurant. He opened the first Room4Dessert in New York in 2006, followed by a new iteration in 2014, in Bali, Indonesia, where he currently resides.
Finally, pre-announced special award winners accepting their accolades at the Flanders ceremony include Peruvian chef Pía Léon, of Central, Kjolle and Mil, winner of The World’s Best Female Chef Award, sponsored by Nude Glass; French-born, San Francisco-based chef Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn, winner of the Icon Award, and London restaurant Ikoyi, winner of the American Express One To Watch Award.
The Voting Process
The annual restaurants list is created from the votes of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, an influential group of more than 1,000 leaders made up of food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs, and international culinary experts, with a 50/50 gender balance. To counter the restrictions on international travel and limited dining opportunities of the last year, the 2021 list has been created from a combination of votes cast in January 2020 (which have never been published) and a ‘voting refresh’ which took place in March 2021. Each voter had the chance to update their 2020 selections based only on restaurant experiences in their own region in the 14 months since the previous voting round, reflecting the increased importance of local dining. The 2021 list has therefore been created from a combination of wider pre-pandemic experiences and, where possible, contemporary local updates. None of the event’s sponsors has any influence over the voting process. The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list is independently adjudicated by professional services consultancy Deloitte. This adjudication ensures that the integrity and authenticity of the voting process and the resulting list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 are protected.
Best of the Best
Those in the elite group of No.1 ranked restaurants (listed below) have more than proved their worth and will now be forever honoured as iconic dining destinations in the Best of the Best hall of fame. The chefs and restaurateurs who have led their restaurants to the pinnacle of the list have expressed their desire to invest in the future of the sector and ‘give back’ to the food world through new projects and initiatives. The following restaurants have been named No.1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants since the list’s inception and were therefore not eligible for voting in 2021 and beyond:
• El Bulli (2002, 2006-2009)
• The French Laundry (2003-2004)
• The Fat Duck (2005)
• Noma – original location (2010-2012, 2014)
• El Celler de Can Roca (2013, 2015)
• Osteria Francescana (2016, 2018)
• Eleven Madison Park (2017)
• Mirazur (2019)