1. The World’s Best 50 Restaurant Awards was hosted at the historic Guildhall in The City of London. Built in the twelfth century between 1411 and 1440 the building was designed to reflect the importance of London’s ruling elite. This was where the Lord Mayor and the ruling merchant class held court, fine-tuning the laws and trading regulations that created London’s immense wealth that continues today.
2. In order to become eligible to use the prestigious Guildhall for an event, you must be approved by the Chief Commoner of the City Of London, by way of recommendation by the City Remembrancer, who’s office was established during the reign of Elizabeth I of England, last monarch of the Tudor dynasty in the latter part of the sixteenth century.
3. The awards are considered the ‘Oscars’ of the restaurant world and the list is made up by The Academy, sponsored by Diners Club International ® which comprises of 936 secret, voting members. Offering a balanced selection of chefs, restaurateurs, food journalists, restaurant reviewers and gourmands, each are selected for their knowledge of the international restaurant scene which is divided into 26 geographical regions to ensure even global coverage.
4. Guests at the awards were ushered into the welcome reception – we drank Verve Clicquot, San Pellegrino and Aqua Panna and ate a range of sensational canapés that included caramelised shallot and walnut tatin with Cabinet caramel and Stilton, seared salmon with vadouvan spice and mint chutney, flame grilled beef sirloin with Cacoa Barry chocolate and chilli dip, Birra amoretti hollandaise, braised pork belly and crackling with a coffee and honey glaze and plumb chutney in the beautiful Old Library.
5. The awards ceremony was held in the opulent Great Hall. Over 1,500 bottles of Verve Clicquot was served compared to just 120 bottles of Aqua Panna and San Pellegrino water and the caterers of choice were the collaborators Blue Strawberry and Table Talk of London – no doubt a daunting task given the extraordinary culinary calibre of guests in attendance.
6. Hundreds of thousands of gourmet fans from around the world were in virtual-attendance: with a live-stream of the awards being broadcast at www.TheWorlds50Best.com unofficial viewing figures are estimated at over half a million on-line users in over 100 countries around the world.
7. A total of 6,552 votes are cast to reach the final list of 50. What constitutes ‘best’ is left to the opinion of The Academy Members and there is no pre-determined check-list of criteria, for example a simple establishment offering an interesting experience where exceptional innovation was discovered could be judged better than an opulent meal from a famous team.
8. Every single restaurant in the world is eligible to enter but restaurants cannot apply to be on the list, cannot be nominated and nothing can influence the list as voting is kept completely confidential. Unlike other awards, there is no criteria the restaurant has to meet and very few rules applied which allows The Academy to vote far and wide, based entirely on their own experiences and opinions.
9. Although called The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and 50-Restaurants are featured at the awards, there is actually a published list of the top 100 which can be viewed at www.TheWorlds50Best.com/list/
10. The winner of the 2014 Verve Clicquot Best Female Chef is the beautiful Helena Rizzo of San Paulo restaurant Mani, who turned her back on a successful modelling career when she discovered her passion for food. Unusually she works alongside her husband Daniel Redondo whom she met whilst working at the Girona restaurant El Celler de Can Roca – winner of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013.
11. Fergus Henderson of the ground-breaking St John restaurant in London who studied as an architect before his thoughts turned to food, won the 2014 Life Time Achievement Award – the first time this award has ever been awarded to a Brit. Having already cut his teeth at the French House Pub in Soho, colourful Fergus found an abandoned smoke-house on the edge of the City of London and, along with two partners, opened St John. Numerous awards and great critical acclaim followed for the simple paired down cooking presented in an architecturally beautiful, but simple setting. Famous for coining the phrase ‘nose to tail eating’ which encompasses the basic principal which best sums up Fergus’s approach to food and the spirit with which he approaches cooking and the entire dining experience as a whole.
12. Destination Luxury caught up with William Drew, editor of The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants who wracked his brains to think of something for our list and told us that in the very first edition of awards in 2002 the Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was one of the secret Academy Members.
13. Four time-winner in 2010, 2011, 2012 and this years 2014 winner Noma in Copenhagen was struggling to fill tables until they began to appear in the 50 Best list. The first year they won the number one position, they still had tables available that week, but within hours, they had received enough requests for reservations – they estimate – to fill their restaurant for over eight years. Looks like that will continue. Owner René Redzepi (who referred to himself as Seal Fucker in his speech!) was too overwhelmed in previous years to read his prepared speech, but the speech (written in 2010!) finally received an airing this year.
14. Destination Luxury collared the dashing Luke Dale Roberts from The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, winner of The Best Restaurant in Africa title to ask what the most luxurious ingredient was used in his creations. He thought carefully ‘…Périgord truffle – we normally use local ingredients but there are some things there is just no substitute for.’ We say Amen to that!