World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022: Only 1 Asian restaurant in top 20 as European fine dining dominates again
The Nordic region reigned supreme in the 20th edition of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, with Copenhagen’s Geranium taking top spot.
Chef and co-owner Rasmus Kofoed, who has previously won bronze, silver and gold in the Bocuse d’Or, one of the world’s most prestigious cooking competitions, said that, after the difficult times of the pandemic, the World’s Best Restaurant award is a “recognition that’s not about being better than another, it’s a celebration for all of us”.
Soren Ledet, sommelier and co-owner of Geranium, said his “heart and head is full”. He put Geranium’s, and the Nordic region’s, success as a culinary destination down to the diversity of people involved in the restaurant business, all bringing their own approaches and philosophies to the sector.
Coming in at No 2 was Central, in Lima, Peru, the flagship restaurant of Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz. The kitchen serves as his workshop in the investigation and integration of indigenous Peruvian ingredients.
Spain also triumphed at this year’s awards, with experimental, seafood-heavy Disfrutar in Barcelona, headed by chefs Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch, and Mateu Casañas, coming third. Well-loved, punk-styled chef Dabiz Muñoz, with his trademark mohawk, took fourth place for the avant-garde Diverxo in Madrid.
Pujol in Mexico City took fifth spot and won the award for best restaurant in North America. The boundary-breaking Japanese-African restaurant Fyn, in Cape Town, South Africa, placed 37th and was name best restaurant in Africa.
Asia did not fare as well in the rankings as in 2021, with Den in Tokyo taking the title of best restaurant in Asia, and 20th spot on the list, down from 11th last year.
Hong Kong’s icon of Cantonese cuisine The Chairman, owned by Danny Yip and with Kwok Keung Tung as head chef, came in at 24th, down from 10th last year.
Florilege in Tokyo came in at 30; Atomix, a modern Korean restaurant in New York, took 33rd place; Sorn in Bangkok placed 39th; and La Cime in Osaka came in at 41. Narisawa in Tokyo also made the top 50.
The difficulty of travelling to Asia over the past year because of the Covid-19 pandemic may have influenced the outcome: The awards are based on selections by 1,080 anonymous international restaurant industry experts, who vote based on visits to their favourite restaurants around the world.
The awards were presented in London on the evening of July 18, in a fitting venue for a culinary event – Old Billingsgate, which housed the world’s largest fish market in the 19th century.
The market itself may have long moved further down the River Thames, but the arcaded building provided a striking backdrop to one of the globe’s most talked about gastronomic gatherings.
A crowd of about 1,000 chefs, food writers and hospitality mavens defied the London heatwave and packed the space to see who would take this year’s title of World’s Best Restaurant. Food-loving actor Stanley Tucci, as master of ceremonies, added to the appeal.
As well as announcing its annual rankings, 50 Best also hands out special awards.
Spain’s Aponiente picked up the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award 2022, while the boundary-breaking AM par Alexandre Mazzia took home the One to Watch Award; previous winners of that award have gone on to stardom, including SingleThread in California and Disfrutar.
The World’s Best Pastry Chef award, presented by Jordi Roca, who Tucci called part of “the holy trinity” of Spain’s El Celler De Can Roca, went to Rene Frank of Coda in Berlin.
Chefs and journalists travelled from far and wide to attend the ceremony and associated events spread over a week, including guest chef dinners and industry talks.
More attendees from Asia were able to attend than made it to the 2021 event, which was held in October in Antwerp, Belgium, when Covid-19 restrictions kept many in the food world at home watching the event broadcast live online.
The excitement was palpable leading up to this year’s announcement. Last year it was easier to predict which restaurant would take top spot given that Noma in Copenhagen, which had already taken the mantle of World’s Best Restaurant four times, was once again in the running.
In 2019, the ranking’s organisers, 50 Best, changed the rules so that restaurants could only occupy the top spot once. After that, winners entered a Hall of Fame and would no longer be eligible for votes.
However, in 2018 Noma was relaunched in a new venue, with a new concept and structure.
The new incarnation was considered different enough to see its re-entry into the awards. Noma was voted number two in 2019, after Mirazur in France. The awards did not take place in 2020, and in 2021 most bets were on Noma stepping up into first place once more – a prediction that became reality.
That Geranium, a Copenhagen neighbour, stepped into Noma’s shoes no doubt pleased lovers of Nordic cuisine, but will have left others asking whether a restaurant from a different region can take the top spot in 2023.