Why Bottura is no longer at No.1. And why we should be satisfied nonetheless

Eleven Madison Park treasured the New York edition of the 50 Best 2016 in New York, at home. Italy did great

The four Italian chefs (there’s also Puglisi, bu

The four Italian chefs (there’s also Puglisi, but he’s in Copenhagen) among the World’s 50 Best: Alajmo, Romito, Crippa and Bottura

The restaurants on the podium are the same as last year’s edition of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant, though the positions have changed Massimo Bottura and Osteria Francescana move from the first place in New York to second place. Yet the winners in Melbourne, in a close-to-perfect edition, were not the Roca brothers with Celler de Can Roca, second in June 2016, but Eleven Madison Park with Will Guidara (in the dining room) and Daniel Humm (in the kitchen), who were third at home in Manhattan when they took care of every detail, including the party, except for the only detail they couldn’t affect: their place in the list.

In the following ten months, as Bottura’s leading place lasted less than the usual twelve months because of the change of location and hemisphere, Guidara e Humm treasured the ceremony in their hometown just like the chef from Modena in 2016 benefited from Expo 2015, a global event that attracted an incredible number of experts in Milan and the surroundings. And then, as it’s hardly subtle, there’s the great work to make France and its chefs move further up and sooner or later settle all the disputes between the lively rock generation and the old, fantastic leaders. This is not referred so much to Mauro Colagreco, from 6th to 4th place, as to Alain Ducasse back in the 50, 13th, and Yannick Alléno debuting at the 31st place and receiving the prize for the best debut.

Bottura, Humm and Guidara and company all rejoice

Bottura, Humm and Guidara and company all rejoice

We found ourselves like in New York when only the podium was yet to be announced, missed only slightly by France with Italian-Argentinian Colagreco (Mirazur in Mentone), fourth, and further away from Virgilio Martinez (Central in Lima) fifth. Silence, 950 guests all hanging off the words of Mark Durden Smith the historic presenter of the show. In Wall Street, Eleven Madison was third. In Melbourne, El Celler de Can Roca. Three Spanish establishments in the top 10, including Asador Etxebarri (6th) and Mugaritz (9th) but the golden years are in the past. An Italian and an American were left (though Humm was born in Switzerland), another final silent pause. A few seconds to reveal that the award for "The Best Restaurant in Europe" was ready and the outcome was revealed: Francescana second hence Eleven first.

The audience commented with a noooooo that pleased the chef from Modena very much («They wanted me to win»), but you could still tell he was disappointed. When you’re a newbie you wish to be among the 50Best some day. Then you make it, you get used to it, and you start wishing for the top 10. Then you do better and aim for the podium. You reach that too and then of course you start to think about the top. Then you win, then what? Bottura: «Then everything is quite incredible. For the fifth year we’re among the best 5 restaurants in the world. Anyone would like to do the same. But in the minute I spent waiting to find out who won, I lost a year of my life. I told Lara, my wife, “I’d rather be third than second. I can’t take another shoulder to shoulder moment like in New York”. But I was wrong. I’d rather get a silver medal. Francescana is still No 1 in Europe. This is very important. We’re a small restaurant in Via Stella in Modena, Eleven is a marvellous place, with 150 employees. Can you imagine such numbers?».

Murales in Melbourne

Murales in Melbourne

Indeed: «They organised the 50 Best and were marvellous. All these people last year were in New York and had the chance to test them and taste them. Travelling to Modena, taking a plane to Bologna and then go by car is not easy. It’s not the same when you’re in New York. We must work with this result which also belongs to CrippaAlajmo and Romito who moved further up”.

Should we organise the Fifty Best in Italy? Some ask and he answers with a sigh: «We have other problems than organising the 50 Best in Italy. But it’s a nice message for Italy that we were at the top once again. After all, everyone, except for Humm and Guidara, would have liked our place». Bottura was the star of a country that participated with seven stars among the 100 Best, because on top of the above mentioned four, there’s Christian Puglisi 39th, Davide Scabin 59th and Umberto Bombana 60th. Back in Italy everything will be seen under the right light though those words, «we have different problems», shed a few shadows.


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