San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2009 – Attending the Awards

Posted on Tuesday, 21st April 2009

The World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards

The World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards

If you have ever previously read my bio page ‘Who’s the Girl’, you might have noticed that attending the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards was previously on my wish list. Well, by a pure stroke of luck, I somehow managed to get an invitation to this year’s ceremony which was held last night.

The event at the Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden kicked off at 7pm with the arrival of the chefs and a champagne reception. With the who’s who of the culinary glitterati and a plethora of the world’s press coming together, the venue quickly became abuzz with the chatter of anticipation. There were about 400 to 500 people at the event, and when you consider that there are only 50 chefs that could possibly make the list, you can imagine the volume of media coverage this event receives.

After the reception came the announcement of this year’s rankings and the presentation of eight awards (highest new entry, highest climber, breakthrough restaurant, lifetime achievement, chefs’ choice, and awards by geographical regions). Due to start at 7.40, it’s was delayed until 8.15pm, for it seems that the worldwide phenomenon of free flowing drinks and canapés as reasons for not ‘making haste’ does not dissipate no matter where you are, even if it is the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. Drinks included a 1999 Laurent-Perrier Vintage Champagne; and the canapés menu included delectables such as minted crab salad, langoustine brochettes with lemongrass and chilli jam, crispy chilli beef with pak choi on Thai rice cakes, gratinated pea soup with truffle and parmesan sabayon, and pork rillettes with crackling and sage, but to name a few. Raymond Blanc eventually kicked off the award proceedings with the welcome speech and presenter Mark Durden-Smith then look over as compere.

El Bulli retained the number one position, and The Fat Duck remained at number two. There were nine new entries this year and three re-entries. Joël Robuchon won the lifetime achievement award. Previous big hitters such as Gordon Ramsay and Charlie Trotter’s were dropped from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List.

Ferran Adrià as he receives his award for Best Restaurant in the World

Ferran Adrià as he receives his award for Best Restaurant in the World

After the excitement of the announcements came more mingling, more food and more alcohol. There were restaurant critics aplenty and of course many notable chefs. I chatted with Heston (he is so famous he only needs one name), Ignatius Chan from Iggy’s in Singapore (one of this year’s new entries), Massimo Bottura from Osteria Francescana (another new entry), and René Redzepi (the winner of the Chef’s Choice Award) who was ever so humble and kept proclaiming that there were so many restaurants in the world that are better than his third ranked Noma. I also tried to chat to Juan Mari Arzak (from Arzak); him in broken English and me in my pigeon Spanish. A charming and lovely man, we took a photo together which he insisted I email to him.

Juan Mari Arzak and I

Juan Mari Arzak and I

So finally, a wish is a wish no more. The night was truly exceptional, and I left happy and excited, looking forward to dipping into all the yummy treats contained in my goodie bag.

Ferran Adrià & Juan Mari Arzak

Ferran Adrià & Juan Mari Arzak


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15 Responses to “San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2009 – Attending the Awards”

  1. Sapuche Says...

    It’s so great that this particular wish came true for you! Congratulations! It’s nice to see that you were able to mingle with several of the honorees, and also that it wasn’t a stuffy event. I hope your attendance at this awards show proves to be a great inspiration for you!

  2. Kang Says...

    Amazing stuff, well done on you and your wish came true !! To be in the presence of so many cooking luminaries is a kind of culinary heaven in itself, great post!

  3. Gourmet Chick Says...

    How fantastic that you go to go. Seems like the list is already quite controversial though with its eurocentric focus.

  4. gen.u.ine.ness Says...

    More importantly.. GR RHR is out of the top 50 list… 🙂

  5. Krista Says...

    Most importantly though…how did you secure your ticket?

  6. Loving Annie Says...

    Glad that you had such a good time, Girl !

  7. An American in London Says...

    I second Krista’s question – how cool that you attended!

  8. neil Says...

    Wow get you. I’m green with envy. Hope you had a ball.

    p.s like the photoshop job on your face 😉

  9. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie Says...

    Wow, what an amazing experience attending this fabulous event! How neat that you got to meet some of the famous chefs! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Sam Says...

    Wow, that sounds like a fantastic night. It must have been great to be able to chat with so many world famous chefs.

  11. 'A Girl Has To Eat' Says...

    To everyone, thanks for your comments.

    Sapuche, yes I felt really privileged that I get to go. Fingers crossed for next year.

    Kang, Natasha and Sam, it was really exciting to share the same space with some of the best culinary talents in the world and get to talk to them. All the ones I talked to are really nice.

    Gourmet Chick, yes you’re right. The list is really Euro focused. That’s why the Miele Guide was set up in Asia to counter the 50 Best Restaurants. Maybe with competition from Miele, the focus of the awards will shift in time.

    Genuineness, you would say that!

    Krista and An American in London, Sorry, but mums the word!

    Neil, Thanks. I think I could have been a little neater though. Photoshop is hard to use!

  12. 'A Girl Has To Eat' Says...

    Here is the Miele guide

  13. Hilary Says...

    How exciting for you! I was reading all about them in the paper yesterday.

  14. Krista Says...

    I hope you didn’t pay cash.

  15. 'A Girl Has To Eat' Says...

    No, no. I didn’t pay. And it was all above board and legit! Cross my heart!