Noma Tops Controversial List
Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant that made foraging cool again, heads up the list of the Top 50 Restaurants in the World. The restaurant has been lauded over the years for Rene Redzepi’s revitalization of Nordic cuisine through the inspired use of the plants and animals local to the region. While the quality of the food served at Noma is largely undisputed, the list on which the restaurant is featured is not enjoying the same level of respect and adoration. In fact, many food writers and industry insiders see the list as unnecessary at its best and farcical at its worst.
The Top 50 list
The Top 50 Restaurants in the World are determined by an international panel of judges and is produced by Restaurant Magazine. Inclusion on the list is highly sought after by chefs for it is a fantastic marketing ploy. Being listed as one of the best, no matter how that determination was made or who made it, is a nice tweetable phrase that will undoubtedly draw in those with deep pockets. And you must have deep pockets if you hope to eat at any of the listed establishments. Each top restaurant comes with a hefty price tag and is almost impenetrable from a reservations standpoint. Accordingly, a few writers have called into question why the average restaurant-goer should care about this list in the first place.
In an article for The Guardian, Marina O’Loughlin bemoans the Top 50 list as an exercise in self-congratulatory predictability. Nearly all these restaurants have been talked about for years. There is no new information that this list provides, except maybe the relative quality of restaurants located halfway around the world from each other. Trying to decide whether to dine in Italy or New York tonight? The list has you covered (Osteria Francescana is apparently better than Eleven Madison Park, so plan accordingly). For those of us without a private jet to whip us around the world at a moment’s notice for a taste of something called “snails under the earth,” the list is just another another talking point for disillusioned foodies.
Writing for Food Republic, Matt Rodbard makes a case for the list being much more about food destinations than the world’s best restaurants. After all, even the combined experience of all the judges can’t cover every restaurant in the world. What is really being measured here is how excited a foodie would be to go to these places, not just because the restaurants are great, but because they are talked about.