This weekend, San Pellegrino announced the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, which is also known as the Oscars of the restaurant world. But what if we told you that the best restaurant in the world doesn’t exist?
According to the Top 50 Restaurants website, “The list is created from The Diners Club® World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, an influential group of over 900 international leaders in the restaurant industry, each selected for their expert opinion of the international restaurant scene.” But can one restaurant truly be the best?
Noma is a restaurant in Denmark that opened in 2003. The restaurant’s founders are Rene Redzepi and Claus Meyer, and Noma is their attempt to redefine Nordic cuisine. Attempt wouldn’t be the correct word, actually, considering that this place just became the number one restaurant in the world, according to the above mentioned list. However, the founders themselves disagree, leaving a wrinkle in the space time continuum of critics lists, thus leading us to conclude that the best restaurant in the world doesn’t exist.
“This is too fucking crazy,” Redzepi said on stage at London’s Guildhall. He has since called the award “the biggest surprise I’ve ever had.” So, why was this so surprising? Is Noma’s food not all that or is this dude just super insecure? Redzepi clarifies his perspective. “Of course I don’t consider Noma to be the best in the world,” he said. “At some tiny ramen places in Tokyo where I’ve dined you’ll have the best meal of your life.”
So how can chefs and restaurant owners know what to do in order to make this list if the people on it don’t even agree with its rankings? We’re wondering the same thing. Redzepi wasn’t the only person who questioned their award. Outside Guildhall before the ceremony, chef Yoshihiro Narisawa said of the restaurants list, through a translator, “I don’t know if it’s correct or not.” Something seems fishy here, so how can we clarify?
In the same way that not everybody thinks “Argo” should have won Best Picture, not everyone is going to agree on a list of the best restaurants. “No matter, how crazy, how unfair, unreal it is,” Redzepi said of the list, “it becomes part of the world, of the reality.” And so it goes with the Oscars. An Academy-Award winning actress is more likely to get the part over a golden globe nominee. But this isn’t fair, because to one person they may have the same talent. When talking about his favorite Ramen place, Redzepi couldn’t even pronounce the name. Just goes to show that the best places could easily be just a hole in the wall.
Fivethirtyeight.com asked Redzepi directly if he thinks that Noma is the best restaurant in the world. “Of course not,” Aizpitarte said, right in front of their chef. The world’s No. 1 restaurant is great, he said, but “when you go to Noma, it’s Noma.” The best meal is not necessarily the fanciest meal. “The situation is food and you.” So there you have it, your favorite meal is the best restaurant in the world, whether it’s at Eleven Madison Park, or at Applebee’s.
Restaurants are hard to rank. You never know if the waiter is having a bad day, or if the chef is tired. It’s not easy to have a consistently on point meal. From what we gathered on the list, it seems as if these restaurants were having a generally great day when they were visited by the judges. Moral of the story? Do your best every day. You might end up on a list you don’t even think you deserve to be on!