Some people call it the 'Oscars of the food world,' others call it the 'Olympic games.' Regardless what you call it, it's the biggest, most spectacular event in the foodie calendar. Not just in Australia, The World. It's kind of a big deal.
The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony 2017 was held on Wednesday the 5th of April at The Royal Exhibition Building, co-incidentally in the world's most liveable city, Melbourne. World-renowned chefs and international media gathered to celebrate the best international restaurants and chefs. Having our city play host helped to put Australian food culture on the map, in a global scale.
Calia were serving up honey and caviar, whilst Silestone were handing out cookies and cream chocolates that represent their range of marble bench-tops. Melbourne Gin Company were showing off their delicious gin. Grana Padano were giving tastes of their PDO (Protected designation of origin) cheese. Wine Australia provided the wine, and Estrella Damm, the beer. Neil Perry's Rockpool Dining Group had the pressure of catering for the event, and we had the pleasure of eating it. Kangaroo sui mai and spicy mussel broth was on offer amongst a big display of Australian meat, seafood and produce, which was cooked during the ceremony and served in the latter half of the evening.
The countdown begun and the room sat still, apart from the media section who were fumbling on their phones to stream the event live on their social media channels. Guilty. Host Mark Durden-Smith breaks the ice with his love-hate witty humour as he begins announcing the awards.
Victorians rejoiced as Dan Hunter's, Brae was announced number 44 and Ben Shewry's, Attica, 32. Virgillo Martinez of Central in Lima, Peru is awarded the Chef's Choice Award sponsored by Estrella Damm. Heston Blumenthal is the 2017 recipient of the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award. Ana Ros of Hiša Franko, Slovenia is named The Worlds Best Female Chef 2017. Gaggan, Bangkok was awarded the Best Restaurant in Asia, for the third consecutive year.
The title of The World's Best Restaurant went to Eleven Madison Park in New York for the first time and received a thundering standing ovation. The room was filled with ecstasy and joy as the final speech was made and the ceremony concluded. All nominated chefs and restaurateurs in the top 50 lined-up on stage for a post-awards press conference and media frenzy took place. Meanwhile, beverages continued to pour in the other room where the after party began.
The list goes on, literally, so in case you missed it, here is the full list.
1. Eleven Madison Park, New York, US
2. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
3. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
4. Mirazur, Menton, France
5. Central, Lima, Peru
6. Asador Etxebarri, Axpe, Spain
7. Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand
8. Maido, Lima, Peru
9. Mugaritz Errenteria, Spain
10. Steirereck Vienna, Austria
11. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, US
12. L'Arpege, Paris, France
13. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee, Paris, France
14. Restaurant Andre, Singapore
15. Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy
16. D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil
17. Le Bernardin, New York City, US
18. Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
19. Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark
20. Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico
21. Alinea, Chicago, US
22. Quintonil, Mexico City, Mexico
23. White Rabbit, Moscow, Russia
24. Amber, Hong Kong
25. Tickets, Barcelona, Spain
26. The Clove Club, London, UK
27. The Ledbury, London, UK
28. Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand
29. Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
30. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
31. Alleno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris, France
32. Attica, Melbourne, Australia
33. Astrid y Gaston, Lima, Peru
34. De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands
35. Septime, Paris, France
36. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, UK
37. Saison, San Francisco, US
38. Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
39. Relae, Copenhagen, Denmark
40. Cosme, New York City, US
41. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai, China
42. Borago, Santiago, Chile
43. Reale, Castel Di Sangro, Italy
44. Brae, Birregurra, Australia
45. Den, Tokyo, Japan
46. L'Astrance, Paris, France
47. Vendome, Cologne, Germany
48. Restaurant Tim Raue, Berlin, Germany
49. Tegui, Buenos Aires, Argentina
50. Hof Van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium
The excitement still rushes through my veins as I cannot believe I was actually at The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony; in the flesh, on the red carpet, rubbing shoulders, clinking wine glasses and dancing with the world's most famous chefs.
I will never forget the moment my friend Suzy and I walked Heston Blumenthal and his girlfriend to a cab. Or that time I spoke the only Japanese words I know to Zaiyu Hasegawa. Or when Dan Barber and I were raving about how wonderful Melbourne is. Or telling Gaggan Anand that I'm heading to his restaurant in less than two weeks. Or letting Kylie Kwong know how much I admire her food philosophy and her cricket dumplings. Or telling Albert Adria how eager I am to check out his new restaurant Enigma in Barcelona.
The clock struck midnight, but it felt like 9pm. Time flies when you're having this much fun. There were rumours that there were around four or five 'after-after' parties happening, but Neil Perry's party at Alfred Place seemed to be the go-to. The music was pumping, the crowd was happy, the dance-floor was booming—I think Dominique Crenn started it. Models painted head-to-toe in silver, bearing bottles of Patrón Tequila, encouraging the antics. Wine, cocktails, shots - you name it, flowing from the bar.
I had a drunken conversation about sustainability with Alessandro Perricone and Jonathan Tam from Relae in Copenhagen, Denmark (39th Best Restaurant). I joined the dance circle with Melbourne foodies Alice Zaslavsky and Lauren Bruce who had enough stamina to party on. At 2am, the party was in full-swing with Neil Perry, Dominique Crenn, Massimo Bottura, Daniel Humm and Andoni Luis Aduriz standing on the bar, dancing and popping bottles of champagne across the crowd. My suit was drenched and I loved it. A selfie with Jock Zonfrillo from Orana in Adelaide ended up on my phone, but I wasn't too sure how. A conga line started to form, or was that my imagination? It all became a blur. I should have left earlier but I was having too much fun. Chefs sure know how to party. I felt sick. I threw up in the bathroom and I realised it was time to go home. Snapchat said it was 4am. I hope the Uber gave me 5 stars.
Best. Night. Ever.
(EDIT: Alice Zaslavsky has confirmed there was a conga line, and there was espresso martini spilt over a tuxedo shirt)
Photo's and videos via http://www.visitvictoria.com