Bottura, how to spoil someone else’s party

After the first place in Humm’s den, in New York, he’s now won over the Rocas, in Spain. Like with football, the 50Best are growing more and more

22-06-2018

A journey back in time for Massimo Bottura. From the 19th of June, when he won in Bilbao, in Spain, to the 13th of June 2016, when he was first in the 2016 World's 50 Best Restaurant in New York

Winning is always special, but sometimes it’s even more so. Think of the two times Massimo Bottura won in the 50 Best. He came second in London in the spring of 2015, and then one year later triumphed in New York, in the den of Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, two absolute masters. They came third, with the Roca brothers second. The patrons of Eleven Madison Park confirmed the party in their restaurant, putting an Italian flag in the kitchen. Few others would have done the same.

Then came the 2017 edition in Melbourne: the same people are on the podium, but in different order: HummBottura and Joan Roca; and Mauro Colagreco fourth. Neutral ground, impossible for an Australian restaurant to win. It’s very different now in Bilbao. In the Spanish den, everything was ready for the triumph of the three brothers from Gerona. Then, as often the case, reality takes a different turn from dreams and forecasts. The chef from Modena, after the triumph in Manhattan, had his encore on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Once again he upturned the plans of the organisers, winning over RocaMauro Colagreco andDaniel Humm who was fourth. This is justified, as Eleven Madison Park closed for four months and you could only vote until December. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the centre of Manhattan, and not in Lapland or other secluded places: if you’re closed, you can only wait for better times.

Massimo Bottura and Joan Roca at the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Mugaritz, Andoni Luis Aduriz’s restaurant close to San Sebastian. Photo by Paolo Marchi

Massimo Bottura and Joan Roca at the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of MugaritzAndoni Luis Aduriz’s restaurant close to San Sebastian. Photo by Paolo Marchi

Colagreco took advantage of this and came third with his Mirazur, the least French of the great establishments in France. And this is where the rules of the game as conceived little over five years ago, come to play. You can vote 10 restaurants and a maximum of 6 in your country or region. To get into the 50 Best it is no longer enough to get votes from the 39 panel members from your country. People must like you around the world, even far away from home.

The rules were different in the past. Italy by itself was as prominent as South America or the United States, but then the 50 Best became more radical and single regions, once “unknown”, acquired importance. The most significant example comes from the World Football Cup now taking place in Russia. There are 32 countries participating, twice as many as in the past. And we already now there’ll be 48 in 2026. In theory it should be easier to qualify, but the Italian team stayed at home this year because they were suffocated by the number of games and opposing teams. A game gone wrong, an irksome menu, and you’re out of the group.

Riccardo Camanini in a photo by Brambilla-Serrani taken at Identità Golose 2017

Riccardo Camanini in a photo by Brambilla-Serrani taken at Identità Golose 2017

I’m happy for the four Italians, Bottura was 1st (+1), Enrico Crippa16th (-1); Massimiliano Alajmo 23rd (+6) and Niko Romito 36th (+7). I thought Riccardo Camanini would have got into the 100 best. This was not the case. There are no Italians between the 37th and 100th place, which means that aside from the 4 at the top, the Italian panel scattered its votes. To give an idea: the world’s 50 best restaurants spread across 23 countries. They are many, for everyone, and even more so for those who believe they only serve good food in Italy, possibly at home. Seven places went to Spain – though it was painful to see Celler de Can Roca didn’t win - six to the United States, five to France and four each to Italy and the United Kingdom.

Out of the 50 best, nine are new and three are a happy comeback. With some significant news: Turkey debuts in the 50 Best with Mehmet Gürs’s Mikla, 44th, and so does Slovenia with Ana Roš’s Hisa Franko at number 48. Norway almost debuts, at 35 with Esben Holmboe Bang’s Maaemo after an isolated presence in the first edition, in 2003. Strange but true: the Ferrari Trento Art of Hospitality Award went to a dining room man with an original story, Søren Ledet, one of the two souls at Geranium in Copenhagen with Rasmus Kofoed

They were both chefs, but later Ledet decided to take care of hospitality and cellar. The result: three Michelin stars for the food and an award for an equally brilliant service from the 50 Best.

Rasmus Kofoed and Søren Ledet, representing kitchen and dining room at Geranium in Copenhagen, winners of the Ferrari Trento Art of Hospitality Award. Copyright The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Rasmus Kofoed and Søren Ledet, representing kitchen and dining room at Geranium in Copenhagen, winners of the Ferrari Trento Art of Hospitality Award. Copyright The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

My very personal dream? I have two: that Bottura’s encore will really pull the Italian restaurant scene to the top, working with more and more cohesion. It surely already gives a better image than our current politicians. Second: that the talent of our dining room men will soon be acknowledged. With Osteria Francescana so high up, it’s difficult to imagine an award to Beppe Palmieri, but how about Marco Reitano?

A final note: some say edition 2019 will be celebrated in Las Vegas. If this is the case, we’ll have a special Wanna bet? edition.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Sections

Primo piano

The events you cannot miss and all the news of topical interest from the food planet