Last year, in yet another a big blow to the hard-hit F&B industry, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and awards ceremony were postponed in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

But the biggest dining awards in the world are back this year, with a live ceremony held earlier this week in Antwerp, Belgium.

Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, has been named The World’s Best Restaurant, moving up one place from 2019. Previously, the former iteration of this New Nordic restaurant by Chef René Redzepi held the top spot for four years running (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014). At Noma, Chef Redzepi offers three seasonal tasting menus throughout the year – seafood from January–June, vegetables during summer and game and forest season in winter. R&D is a huge part of the restaurant’s innovative dining culture, with the team constantly foraging for new ingredients – no two meals at Noma are ever the same!

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021

In 2019, the number 1 spot was held by France’s Mirazur, but owing to a rule change that year, previous winners of the top title are rendered ineligible for The World’s 50 Best list and are moved to a new Best of the Best category, as is now the case for Noma.

The Danes have done very well this year, and another Copenhagen restaurant, Geranium, has jumped three places to come in at number 2.

Asador Etxebarri in Spain retains its number 3 position, with its Basque chef – said to be a grill maestro – Victor Arguinzoniz taking home the Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award, as voted by his peers for his influence on the global culinary community.

Central in Lima, Peru, takes number 4, and Spanish restaurant Disfrutar in Barcelona lands number 5.

Completing the top 10, Frantzén in Stockholm, Sweden, sits at number 6 – we love the chef’s Frantzén’s Kitchen offshoot here in the 852 – Lima eatery Maido comes in at number 7, Singapore stalwart Odette takes number 8 and Pujol in Mexico City snatches number 9. All in all, Scandinavia, Latin America and Spain are the regional stars of this year’s top 10.

Danny Yip, founder of The Chairman, with the top award at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant 2021

It was also a stellar night for Hong Kong – the city’s favourite refined Cantonese restaurant, The Chairman, has made a huge leap to number 10 on the list, also receiving the Highest Climber Award. Indicating its ascendancy earlier this year at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant 2021, The Chairman was named The Best Restaurant in Asia, with Chef Kwok Keung Tung’s signature steamed flowery crab with aged Shaoxing wine, chicken oil and flat noodles continuing to wow diners.

Side note: we don’t quite understand why The Chairman – number 1 on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best list – is below Odette on The World’s Best list (Odette stands at number 2 on Asia’s 50 Best). Can anyone help to settle our confusion?

In individual awards, Steirereck (12) in Vienna, Austria, wins the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award; the Austrian eatery is overseen by husband-and-wife duo Chef Heinz Reitbauer and his wife, Birgit, who orchestrates every detail of service. Audited by Food Made Global – the world’s largest food-sustainability programme – Boragó (38) in Santiago, Chile, has been given the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award, while Will Goldfarb of Room4Dessert in Bali, Indonesia, has been named The World’s Best Pastry Chef.

Pre-announced special award winners also accepted their honors at the awards ceremony in Antwerp. These included Peruvian chef Pía Léon of Central (4), Kjolle (95) and Mil (90), crowned The World’s Best Female Chef, and African-inspired London restaurant Ikoyi (87), described as showcasing “spice-based cuisine around British micro-seasonality”, winner of the American Express One to Watch Award.

French-born, San Francisco-based chef Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn (48) is the recipient of the Icon Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the worldwide F&B industry. Chef Crenn is an LGBTQ+, inclusivity and sustainability activist and author of Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters.

How are the winners selected?

The World’s 50 Best list (and the 51–100 longlist) is a global poll of over 1,000 food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and culinary experts, featuring a 50/50 gender split. To counter the restrictions on international travel and limited dining opportunities owing to the pandemic, the 2021 list has been created from a combination of votes cast in January 2020 (which have never been published) and a regional “voting refresh” that took place earlier this year.

Click here for more information on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 winners

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