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Copenhagen top of the world at the 50 Best

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Noma returned to the summit and Geranium followed in second place at the 2021 listing of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

After a year’s break from in-person events due to the pandemic, chefs, restaurateurs and food fans gathered in Antwerp, Belgium for the 2021 celebration of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants last week. Restaurants from 26 countries across five continents were celebrated in this year’s edition of the list.

What a year it has been for Noma – earlier this year, the New Nordic Cuisine pioneer was awarded its third Michelin star and last week it reclaimed the number one position on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. It was closely followed by fellow three-star Copenhagen restaurant Geranium.

As Redzepi said, “Something special has been happening in the small city of Copenhagen for a while and it is still happening.”

Fellow chef Rasmus Kofoed from Geranium wrote on Instagram. “I’m very humble and grateful to see Geranium shine as number 2 on the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants List 2021. Congratulations to Noma and Copenhagen, what an amazing achievement for our little Kingdom.”

This is the fifth time Redzepi’s restaurant has clinched the top spot. “Noma has arguably been the most influential restaurants of its generation, setting new standards in terms of research and ingredient sourcing, dish development and presentation,” said William Drew, director of content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. “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.”

The Best of the Best

It is the first win for this current iteration of Noma, which opened in a new location in 2018 after closing the original in 2016. It will also be the last as new rules, introduced in 2019, mean that all number ones move into a Best of the Best group. Noma will now join other previous winners, including Mirazur, El Celler de Can Roca and Eleven Madison Park in the group of  restaurants who can’t be considered for the main voting again.

The new location of Noma 2.0 meant that it ws eligible for consideration despite having won previously.

When questioned about the secret behind Noma’s success, Redzepi referred to his restaurant team. “We have 79 different secrets and all of them have a name. If you are able to find a group of individuals and build something where everybody contributes then a special energy happens and that is our secret.,” he said.

Time spent out of the kitchen during lockdowns afforded the chef time to consider how he would like the restaurant to emerge from the pandemic.

“I told my team we needed to be the best place to work. The pandemic, despite its trials and tribulations, was an incredible time to figure it out. How to be the best and have the best energy and how you can have the team work in a way that gives them balance,” he said while acknowledging that he has had to work on his own leadership style to create a better place to work.

Resilience and community spirit

Other outstanding achievements on the night included Lido 84 in Italy, which debuted as the highest new entry as it went straight in at no 15. The Chairman in Hong Kong was named the highest climber as it moved up 31 spots to 10th place.

Steirereck in Vienna won the Art of Hospitality award while Victor Arguinzoniz of famed Asador Extebarri in Spain was voted by his peers as the Chef’s hoice award.

Pia León from Kjolle in Lima, Peru was named the World’s Best Female Chef while Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco received the 2021 Icon award.

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 at number 3 and Barcelona’s Disfrutar in fifth place. South Africa meanwhile saw a first entry in the top 50 with Wolfgat entering at no 50.

Drew celebrated the eight new restaurants making their debut as well as two re-entries, coming 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,” he concluded.

Tina Nielsen