Culinary Heights

El Bulli, Ferran Adria’s famed gastronomic mecca north of Barcelona, was named the world’s best restaurant in the annual San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards yesterday, followed by the Fat Duck, near London, and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris.

The top trio hasn’t changed for the past three years, and in fact there was only one new entry in the top ten in 2008 – the Norma restaurant in Copenhagen. The award is determined by panels from around the world, made up of around 700 chefs, restaurateurs, food writer and critics, who determine the list and ranking of restaurants.

El Bulli has been in the top three since the London-based awards started in 2002 while the Fat Duck has held a position in the top two for five consecutive years. El Bulli, where dinners are presented with an ever-changing 30-course meal, has been described as ‘the most imaginative generator of haute cuisine on the planet’.

Both restaurants are well known for their experimental dishes, such as Parmesan air at El Bulli and bacon and egg ice cream at the Fat Duck. It’s also extremely hard to get a table at either venue, with around half a million people pursuing the 8,000 places available annually at El Bulli.

The award has made significant efforts to internationalize its judging panels in recent years, however the recipients are still notably skewed towards Europe and the English-speaking world. Asia is not represented at all in the list, despite Tokyo being home to more three-stared Michelin establishments than any other city.

The Top 10 of 2008 is:

1. El Bulli, Spain
2. The Fat Duck, U.K.
3. Pierre Gagnaire, France
4. Mugaritz, Spain
5. The French Laundry, U.S.
6. Per Se, U.S.
7. Bras, France
8. Arzak, Spain
9. Tetsuya’s, Australia
10. Noma, Denmark


Bess Mucke
[email protected]

  • Did you learn something new from this page?
  • yesno