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Plat du Jour Tuesday May 7, 2013: 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards

It’s been 24 hours now since the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony in New York, the “Oscars” of the food world. Hearing about the extensive after-parties across New York last night and this morning, it seems like now the winners can finally pause post-hangover and reflect on last night’s ceremony.

If you can get past the usual arguments about how there is absolutely no way for the Awards to truly be correct since it’s impossible for there to be an actual “best” restaurant or chef, then the James Beards are a very important measuring gauge of where dining is today in the first half of 2013. You also need to get past the strange 3-D fonts on the winners pdf, something I’m less thrilled about.

Best New Restaurant, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

Best New Restaurant, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

It’s exciting to see the hard-working chefs, service staffs, and restaurateurs get to dress up and have their big night in New York. They absolutely deserve it.

From here, we raise our glass to last night’s winners, wishing them the best for years to come and thanking them for their relentless desire to ask questions about what and how we eat, coupled with their unwavering pursuit of dining excellence. (more…)

Plat du Jour Monday April 29, 2013: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Announced

And the winner is…El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain.

After three years atop the world, Noma in Copenhagen flip-flopped today with last year’s runner-up, after the San Pellegrino and Restaurant Magazine World’s 50 Best Restaurants were revealed in London.

The world’s new best restaurant lived in the shadow of fellow Basque region stalwart and longtime “best restaurant in the world” El Bulli, before Ferran Adria turned his legendary molecular gastronomy institution into an institute a few years ago.

Who is El Celler de Can Roca and where is Girona, Spain, and why did El Celler de Can Roca switch with Noma are many of the questions the general public are asking themselves.

El Celler de Can Roca is no secret. Opened in 1986 by the three Roca brothers, the restaurant has held three Michelin stars each year since 2010. Joan Roca is the head chef, while Jordi Roca is the pastry chef, and Josep Roca is the sommelier.


Yours truly spent a layover day in Girona seven years ago (Ryan Air doesn’t fly directly into Barcelona, so Girona is the closest airport, about an hour northeast of Barcelona), but unfortunately didn’t have the chance to visit the Rocas. Instead, I enjoyed some bocadillos at a vintage tapas bar-coffee shop. The city is straight out of a postcard with its meandering Onyar River, striking bridges, and the spectacular cathedral. I have a feeling Girona will be much more known after today’s announcement.

Roses, home to the El Bulli Institute, is a bit further north up the Costa Brava. San Sebastian may still be the capital of Spanish gastronomy with two restaurants in today’s top 10, but the Costa Brava once again can lay claim to being home of the best restaurant in the world. (more…)

Plat du Jour Thursday April 25, 2013: The “Other Top 100 Restaurants of the World” List

The Foodie Top 100 Restaurants: Worldwide were unveiled this morning.

Wait, hold on. I thought they were supposed to be unveiled on Monday in London?

Yes, that is correct. The World’s Top 50 Restaurants (that really is a list of the top 100 restaurants) presented by San Pellegrino and Restaurant Magazine will be announced on Monday April 29. That is the world’s best known and most contentious list. It’s the list once dominated by El Bulli and recently Copenhagen’s Noma Restaurant has been the winner for three years running.

Today’s list on the other hand is called The Foodie Top 100 Restaurants: Worldwide, courtesy of Glam Media. The 100 restaurants are not ranked in any order, so you can’t ascertain if Noma is higher than Alinea. The goal of this list is to be more transparent and relevant to the younger foodie generation, actually using that modern fervent gourmand term so often despised those it is meant to label. Here, foodie is intended to be nothing but a positive term.


The transparency can be found everywhere. The extensive list of runner-ups is also included, so you can see that somehow Paris’ Ze Kitchen Galerie is included in the top 100, but the likes of Paul Bocuse, Belgium’s In de Wolf, and the United States’ Manresa could only be in a top 200 or 300. Ze Kitchen Galerie has some exciting cooking going on in the Paris’ Left Bank, but really, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, especially if this list factors in service and atmosphere as it claims to (will admit that yours truly had a not so positive experience when I dined there, not trying to pick on them).

The names of judges are transparent. You’ll recognize the likes of Ruth Reichl, Jonathan Gold, Gael Greene, Patricia Wells, and Alexander Lobrano. (more…)

Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs 2013

Congratulations to this year’s Food and Wine Magazine Best New Chefs class announced this morning.

You’ve heard of some of the names from television and some of the names probably from the numerous “rising star” lists and awards handed out each month. You’ve also probably never heard of some of these incredible young chefs. Known outside of their home city or not, they are already leaders in the industry and role models for next year’s class.

Michael Voltaggio's Ink

Michael Voltaggio’s Ink

And voilà:

Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food, New York, NY

Justin Cogley, Aubergine, Carmel, CA

José Enrique, Jose Enriqué, San Juan, PR

Matthew Gaudet, West Bridge, Boston, MA

Jamie Malone, Sea Change, Minneapolis, MN

Chris Shepherd, Underbelly, Houston, TX

Alex Stupak, Empellón Cocina, New York, NY

Andy Ticer & Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis, TN

Jason Vincent, Nightwood, Chicago, IL

Michael Voltaggio, Ink, Los Angeles, CA (more…)