Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Spanish restaurant El Celler de Can Roca leads the world

El Cellar de Can Roca wins the top accolade, with head chef Joan Roca, centre, at the 50 Best Restaurants 2013 awards

A Spanish restaurant whose menu has featured caramelised olives served on a bonsai tree has been named the best in the world.

El Celler de Can Roca toppled Denmark's Noma from its position to claim the title after spending two years as runner-up on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list - billed as the Oscars of the restaurant world. The Roca brothers' avant-garde eatery in Girona, north east Spain, now heads a top-10 lineup dominated by Spanish cuisine.

Dinner By Heston Blumenthal - the chef behind The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, - was named Britain's top offering. The central London diner at the Mandarin Oriental, was ranked seventh in the world.

Meanwhile Blumenthal's Fat Duck, famed for its mustard ice cream and snail porridge, came in at 33 and The Ledbury, in west London, run by Australian Brett Graham, rose up one place to number 13.

Positions two and three on this year's list were taken by chef Rene Redzepi's Noma, in Copenhagen, which has famously served moss, lichen and bone marrow, and Massimo Bottura's comparatively low-key Osteria Francescana in Modena, northern Italy.

El Celler de Can Roca, run by the three Roca siblings, is well-known for its free-style cooking and has long been hailed for its combination of Catalan dishes and cutting edge techniques. With Joan Roca heading up the kitchen and his brothers Jordi and Josep as head pastry chef and head sommelier respectively, it has built up a reputation as one of Spain's most exciting places to eat.

Other Spanish restaurants to make it onto the list this year include San Sebastian's Mugaritz at number four, and Arzak, which remained at number eight. The Alicante restaurant Quique Dacosta, famed for its eco-cuisine, came in at number 26 while Asador Etxebarri, in the tiny leafy village of Axpe, set between San Sebastian and Bilbao, took 44th position.

El Bulli, the restaurant in Catalonia which achieved the top ranking five times, does not appear after chef Ferran Adria announced a two-year closure.

France and America were the two countries with the most restaurants on the list, both notching up six in the top 50. Culinary maestro Alain Ducasse, who became the first chef to earn three Michelin stars for three different restaurants, was honoured with this year's Lifetime Achievement Award.

The list was drawn from the votes of more than 900 leading figures in the industry - including food critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly regarded "gastronomes". The World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, were presented at the Guildhall in central London.

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