Chef Rene Redzepi’s noma restaurant won the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for the third time last night, the tenth year that the Awards ceremony has been held.  The event was sponsored by San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, was held at The Guildhall in London, and was attended by 600 of the world’s top chefs and restaurant judges. A shock was that, for the first time in many years, no South African restaurant made it onto the Top 50 list.

The Top 20 World’s 50 Best Restaurants are the following (with last year’s ranking in brackets), from The Telegraph :

1 (1) Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark

2 (2) El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain

3 (3) Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain

4 (7) D.O.M., Sao Paolo, Brazil

5 (4) Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy

6 (10) Per Se, New York, USA

7 (6) Alinea, Chicago, USA

8 (8) Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain

9 (-) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, UK

10 (24) Eleven Madison Park, New York, USA

11 (22) Steirereck, Vienna, Austria

12 (14) L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Paris, France

13 (5) The Fat Duck, Bray, UK

14 (34) The Ledbury, London, UK

15 (9) Le Chateaubriand, Paris, France

16 (19) L’Arpege, Paris, France

17 (16) Pierre Gagnaire, Paris, France

18 (13) L’Astrance, Paris, France

19 (18) Le Bernardin, New York, USA

20 (57) Frantzen/Lindeberg, Stockholm, Sweden

France narrowly leads with seven awards on the top 50 list, followed by six for the USA, five for Spain, and three each going to Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Italy.

The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français fell to its lowest ranking, at number 57, after a ranking of 36th last year, and 31st in 2010. Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen made 74th position – two years ago he reached the astounding 12th place whilst still at La Colombe.  Last year La Colombe made 82nd position, but did not make the top 100 list this year.  Last year Chef David Higgs’ Rust en Vrede achieved a ranking of 61st, but sadly he left the restaurant two months later.

The Award-winning restaurants were evaluated by 27 panels around the world, each with 30 members.  In South Africa the panel is chaired by Tamsin Snyman, stepping into the shoes of her late mother Lannice Snyman.  Members of the local panel are known to include Jos Baker, MasterChef SA Judge and Chef Pete Goffe-Wood, and owner of GOLD restaurant Cindy Muller.  Panel members had to evaluate four restaurants in their own country and three elsewhere in the world in the past eighteen months.

William Drew, editor of Restaurant magazine, organisers of the awards, said that the trend was to ‘much more diversity, both geographically and in terms of style.  We’ve seen twin trends. There’s globalization, in the sense that if someone in Japan is doing something interesting now, someone in South America may know about it quickly. Yet at the same time there’s a move toward local cooking’.

Attending the event was Ferran Adria of El Bulli, which he closed down last year.  The restaurant was named the World’s 50 Best Restaurant five times in the past ten years.  He said of the award: “There is no doubt the World’s 50 Best Restaurants has changed the history of gastronomy“.

In addition to announcing the World’s 50 Best Restaurants (and the 51 – 100 restaurants bubbling under), three additional awards were made last night. Elena Arzak from Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian in Spain was named as Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef. Thomas Keller, founder of Per Se and French Laundry in Yountville in California, won the San Pellegrino Lifetime Achievement Award.  The Slow Food UK Award went to Steiereck in Vienna, awarded for the first time last night.

What has been interesting over the past years has been the disparity between the performance of South Africa’s best restaurants on the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants and on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant lists, Le Quartier Français always performing better on the international than on the local restaurant awards list.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage