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Displaying items by tag: French Laundry

Monday, 29 June 2015 01:26

World’s 50 Best Restaurants Named

El Celler de Can Roca Exterior 2015 PicmonkeyEl Celler de Can Roca

By Dan Clarke

Earlier this month an internet news link caught my eye. It had to do with the announcement of a 2015 list of the world’s best restaurants. Of course I had to find out more. How many of the honored establishments would I have read about? Might I actually have eaten a meal at one? Likely not, I thought, but maybe there would be a California restaurant among the winners we could tell you about.

Whose life would be so charmed that he could dine in enough of these great restaurants to form an opinion about them? Naturally, someone wealthy could do it, or someone fortunate enough to have a really great expense account . . . possibly even a very well-connected editor.

The annual list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is put together by an academy of judges sponsored by Diners Club International. They are organized into 27 geographic areas of the globe, each one having 36 voting members. Diners Club says that this aggregation of nearly 1000 judges is not subject to influence from any of the competition’s sponsors. I’m not privy to the exact scoring system, but I accept that however it is done, these judges are more knowledgeable than I and that the results are on the up and up.

Roca Brothers PicmonkeyJoan, Jordi and Josep RocaIt was disappointing that just one restaurant from California cracked the list and that was the French Laundry in Yountville, which was acknowledged as the 50th best restaurant in the world. Though I’m one of the few serious food fans not to have yet budgeted for a table at this place, I have a minimal familiarity with the restaurant, having enjoyed one of their signature dishes prepared and served by its chef and owner, Thomas Keller, a few years ago at a birthday party for Robert Mondavi. Chef Keller’s New York restaurant, Per Se, placed number 41 in this competition.

As I scanned the list from number 50 up toward number one, I wasn’t finding that I recognized many of the others. Grant Achatz’ Alinea in Chicago (26) was founded in 1999 and Alain Ducasse had opened at the Plaza Athenée in Paris (47) the year after, but many of these restaurants wouldn’t have been on such a list 15 years ago, because they simply didn’t exist then. I was beginning to feel insufficiently exposed to quality dining and way less than current in this realm until I saw the winner. Well, now. El Celler de Can Roca was chosen as the S.Pellegrino Best Restaurant in the World 2015. Not only had I heard of this restaurant in Girona, Spain, I had enjoyed a wonderful dinner there and met the chef, Joan Roca. Though it had two Michelin stars then, it was soon to achieve its third in 2009. However, I don’t see how it could have gotten any better than the night I visited with a handful of colleagues. This best restaurant in the world is a family affair, operated by Joan Roca and his brothers Jordi (pastry chef) and Josep (sommelier). Their restaurant is located just next door to the humble bar owned by their parents where the Roca brothers were introduced to the business.Daniel Boulud PicmonkeyDaniel Boulud of Restaurant Daniel

Other honors included the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award 2015 to Daniel Boulud, a French chef who has operated Restaurant Daniel in New York City for 20 years. The Veuve Cliquot World’s Best Female Chef accolade went to Hélène Darroze, who operates restaurants bearing her name in both Paris and London. She, too, comes from a restaurant family and, early in her career, took over the kitchen of her father at the family hotel and restaurant at Villeneuve-de-Marsan in the southwest of France. Maybe that place didn’t have any Michelin stars, but my friend André Saphy, who was the French editor for an earlier version of Taste California Travel, says that Hèléne’s father Francis was a talented chef and that he enjoyed many great meals prepared by him at Chez Darroze. Cacao Barry sponsored the World’s Best Pastry Chef 2015 award, which went to Albert Adrià of Tickets in Barcelona. Albert is the brother of famed chef Ferran Adrià and also worked his pastry magic at Ferran’s now-closed El Bulli. The Gaggenau Chef’s Choice Award went to Daniel Humm, a Swiss chef who came to the U.S. to work at Campton Place in San Francisco, but is now in New York City at Eleven Madison Park, which placed fifth in the top 50 list.

Information on other awards presented at the Guildhall in London can be found at http://www.theworlds50best.com.

Thomas Keller of Yountville's French Laundry received the S.Pellegrino Lifetime Achievement Award on AprilThos Keller SMALL Images Original 09 267e6d30Thos Keller of French Laundry. 30th at London's Guildhall.

The award is conferred by the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Academy which includes 27 Chairs from around the world and an 837-strong voting panel. In receiving this accolade, he joins the S.Pellegrino Lifetime Achievement hall of fame alongside Juan Mari Arzak, Eckart Witzigmann and Joël Robuchon.

Keller's iconic restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, effectively revolutionized American cooking, combining classical French techniques with distinctive, locally sourced quality ingredients years before such an approach became de rigueur.

For two years The French Laundry topped the list of The World's 50 Best Restaurants (2003, 2004) and built up global notoriety for individual dishes such as Oysters & Pearls, Salmon Cornets and Coffee & Donuts that have since become famous in their own right.

Per Se, which opened in New York in 2004, is Keller's “urban interpretation” of The French Laundry and sets equally high standards of food and service. With two three-star restaurants on opposite coasts, Keller has passed day to day cooking responsibilities over to his respective chefs de cuisine, but his philosophy, influence and sheer presence still dominates both restaurants.

Further afield, Keller is revered across the world by chefs and diners alike for his graciousness, collaborative nature and enduring ability to inspire culinary perfection.

cornet of marinated Atlantic salmon SMALLcornets of marinated Atlantic salmon William Drew, Editor of Restaurant magazine, said, “Chef Keller has long been an inspirational figure in the restaurant world – not just to the numerous chefs that have worked under him but to many others who have tasted his wonderful food or simply admired it from afar. His restaurants' ever-presence on the World's 50 Best list is a testament in itself to the enduring brilliance of this most respected of culinary masters.”

Chef Keller commented, “I am extremely honored to have been selected to receive this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants Lifetime Achievement Award. But what I am most excited about is the opportunity to celebrate this recognition with my friends and colleagues after the event! We’ve pushed the envelope and inspired each other through the years – we are all in this together.”

Complete results of the awards are featured in the May issue of Britain's Restaurant magazine and be accessible at www.theworlds50best.com.

 

(TravMedia.com contributed to this article)

 

Editor's note: links to websites of wineries in Napa and the rest of the North Coast, as well as hundreds of links to lodging and dining options, are found at Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.

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