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Noma named world’s best restaurant

A Danish restaurant has been named the best in the world in a survey of the industry’s top chefs and critics.

Noma, in Copenhagen, displaced Spanish restaurant El Bulli, which has held top spot for the last four years, at the head of the pile in the annual S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best competition.

Heston Blumenthal’s Berkshire restaurant The Fat Duck was the highest UK eatery on the list in third place.

Noma prides itself on scouring the local countryside around Copenhagen to source much of its food. Head chef René Redzepi, who trained in the El Bulli kitchen, serves up modern interpretations of classic Nordic food at his small restaurant, housed in a converted warehouse on the Copenhagen waterfront.

Redzepi refuses to use many key Mediterranean ingredients that have come to dominate haute cuisine in recent years, such as sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil or foie gras. Instead, the chef forages in the fields and forests for fresh mushrooms and berries in order to keep his cuisine as authentically local as possible.

His signature dishes reflect this countryside emphasis, with one of his most famous recipes being Vegetables in Soil – a combination of leeks, radishes, baby carrots and celeriac on a bed of malt flour, hazelnut flour, melted butter and beer.

Other ingredients in Redzepi’s parlour include unripe elderberries, cabbage stem and pike perch.

Speaking in The Guardian last week, the chef said: “If you work with me you will often be starting your day in the forest or on the shore because I believe foraging will shape you as a chef. I know it has shaped me.”

British restaurants generally fared poorly in the rankings, which are based on the selections of 800 of the world’s most influential food writers, critics and chefs.

Only two featured in the top 50 aside from the Fat Duck, with London venues St John (43) and Hibiscus (49) representing the UK on the list.

Alan Lodge, 27.04.2010

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