Copenhagen has confirmed its reputation as the global dining destination of the moment after its top eateries finished first and second in the 2021 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, widely considered the Oscars of gastronomy.
The new Noma from the chef René Redzepi, famed for his foraging and fermenting techniques, was named best restaurant at a ceremony in Antwerp, Belgium, on Tuesday night. The old one topped the list in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 and came second in 2019.
“No trip to Noma is ever the same,” the citation said, mentioning highlights from previous seasons including a vegetarian celeriac shawarma and a duck dish of leg, brain and heart served with “claw, feather and beak”.
William Drew, the director of content for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said Noma had “arguably been the most influential restaurant of its generation, setting new standards in terms of research and ingredient sourcing, dish development and presentation”.
Staff at Noma – whose current game and forest season menu costs 2,800 Danish kroner (£320) plus 1,800 kroner for the accompanying wines, and according to social media posts features raw sumac, bear and reindeer brain – exploded with joy at the news.
The restaurant picked up a coveted third Michelin star earlier this year, praised for its “strong connection to nature and holistic approach … which sees unusual seasonal ingredients showcased in creative and complex dishes.”
No award was given last year because of the pandemic, and this year’s title means Noma, which first opened in the Danish capital’s Christianshavn district in 2003, is level with Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli for the most top finishes.
A rule introduced in 2019 in principle prevents previous winners, including New York’s Eleven Madison Park, Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Bray, UK, Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and Mirazur in Menton, France, from competing, but Noma qualified because it closed in 2016, reopening at a new address and with a different concept two years later.
Staff at Noma prepare food in the kitchen. Photograph: Thibault Savary/AFP/Getty
Redzepi said his first win 11 years ago “gave us a chance to be a part of a transformation of an entire region’s food culture”, adding that the pandemic had “taught us all how fragile our dreams can be, how incredibly gruelling and difficult this industry can be”.
The annual list is voted on by more than 1,000 gastronomes including food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and international culinary experts, who awarded second place this year to another Michelin three-star Copenhagen eatery, Geranium.
The restaurant says of its cuisine that its approach aims to explore “the living formative forces of nature” and “observe and understand the connections between the formative forces and the physical matter of all organisms”.
World’s 50 best restaurants
1 Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)
2 Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)
3 Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain)
4 Central (Lima, Peru) Best restaurant in South America
5 Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)
6 Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden)
7 Maido (Lima, Peru)
8 Odette (Singapore) Best restaurant in Asia
9 Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico) Best restaurant in North America
10 The Chairman (Hong Kong) Highest climber award