World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 in New York City– The Before, The During, The After

Congratulations to the 2016 World's Best Restaurant-- Osteria Franscescana in Modena, Italy! Here I am with chef-patron Massimo Bottura, and Asia's best female chef, our very own Margarita Fores

For the first time ever, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony was held outside the British capital. Cipriani Wall Street in New York City was teeming with chefs, journalists and gastronomes for the 2016 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony, organized by William Reed Business Media.

Osteria Francescana from Modena, Italy, was proclaimed the No. 1 restaurant in the world this year, a very significant jump up from No. 2 last year. “There’s a community created around 50 best,” said Bottura at the press conference right after the event, “We are not here as competition, we are here as friends.”

El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain) took the No. 2 spot this year; Eleven Madison Park (New York, USA) climbed to No. 3. Central (Lima, Peru) retained its No. 4 spot. Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark) dropped to No. 5. Mirazur (Menton, France) leaped up high to No. 6; Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain) is No.  7. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan) retained the No. 8 spot this year, Steirereck (Vienna, Austria) no. 9 and Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain) at No. 10. (For the full list, click HERE.) 

It was also announced that next year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards will be held in Melbourne, Australia, in partnership with Tourism Australia. (Hence, we had an Aussie brunch to celebrate– more on that if you keep reading this post :-))

World's 50 Best 2016 Restaurant Awards- Cipriani Wall Street
Such stunning gilded interiors at Cipriani Wall Street for the 2016 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony– the first year it’s held outside of London!
Cocktail Reception of the World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards- Cirpiani Wall Street, New York City
View from the top. The cocktail situation before the big reveal
World's 50 Best 2016 Cipriani Wall Street, New York City- Cheryl Tiu, Sofie Lisby, Zoe Bowker
Counting down the 50 Best Restaurants with my girls Sofie Lisby from Bangkok/ Copenhagen and Zoe Bowker from Dubai
Osteria Francescana- World's Best Restaurant for 2016
And the world’s best restaurant for 2016 is… Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy! Chef-owner Massimo Bottura is renowned for his twists on traditional Italian culinary ingredients — his Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano sees the region’s cheese served in forms and textures. His Oops I Dropped The Lemon Tart was inspired after one of his sous chefs accidentally dropped the last perfectly made lemon tart right before service– taking what first seemed as a ‘disaster’ and turning it into an opportunity to reinvent the situation– and the dish.

I think that victory is always sweeter when celebrated with loved ones and the sight of these absolutely warmed my heart: the chefs with their wives, who also happen to work in their respective restaurants with them– celebrating their winning moments together were priceless. That’s Jorge Vallejo and Alejandra Flores of Quintonil in Mexico City, Mexico; Virgilio Martinez and Pia Leon of Central in Lima, Peru, Tim Raue and Marie-Anne Raue of Restaurant Tim Raue in Berlin, Germany; Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and Josep Roca and Xani Roca, and Jordi Roca and Alejandra Rivas, of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain.

Jorge Vallejo and Alejandra Flores, Virgilio Martinez and Pia Leon, Tim Raue and Marie-Anne Raue, Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore, the Roca family- World's 50 Best 2016- New York City
Victory is always sweeter with your loved ones! Counterclockwise from top: Jorge Vallejo and Alejandra Flores of Quintonil in Mexico City, Mexico; Virgilio Martinez and Pia Leon of Central in Lima, Peru, Tim Raue and Marie-Anne Raue of Restaurant Tim Raue in Berlin, Germany; Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and Josep Roca and Xani Roca, and Jordi Roca and Alejandra Rivas, of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain. (Photos courtesy of World’s 50 Best)
The World's 50 Best Chefs 2016
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2016 (Photo courtesy of World’s 50 Best)

THE AFTER-PARTY AT ELEVEN MADISON PARK

Bet you’ve never seen Eleven Madison Park like this!!! What a fantastic after-after-party (the one at Cipriani Wall Street had April Bloomfield- with dishes from all her restaurants in the city!)…  Questlove DJ-ing.. And Daniel Humm, Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, Zaiyu Hagesawa, and Massimo Botura. On. A. Ledge. This is history. Was so much fun!!!

There were tons of other events leading up to the awards ceremony proper– and likewise, really fun events after! It was really an excellent time to be in New York City to celebrate gastronomy. These were the ones I attended. Now let’s start!

#KOREANYC AT BLANCA IN BROOKLYN

This was held on a Thursday, four nights before the awards ceremony. KoreaNYC was an initiative by Korean fine-dining magazine La Main to promote Korean cuisine on the world stage. There were two six-hands dinners, where top Korea-based chefs collaborated with an American chef. I attended the one at Blanca where chefs Hyunseok-Choi (Elbon The Table, Seoul) and  Jinmo Jang (A&ND Dining, Seoul) cooked alongside chef-patron Carlo Mirarchi. (The other one was at Blue Hill alongside chef-patron Dan Barber.)

If you’ve not heard of Blanca, it’s a by-reservations-only 12-seater (that according to NY Mag sells out for the month within hours) by the same man behind Roberta’s (yes, as in the pizza) in Bushwick, Brooklyn. So to get to the restaurant, you have to go through the telephone booth entrance then through Roberta’s then through the roof deck.. and finally to the spacious concrete dining space which features a state-of-the-art kitchen.

The multi-course dinner pairs it with wine, sake and beer (even on a normal day). My fave dishes in photos below.

From L-R: Foie gras withchocolate coating by Hyun Seok Choi; Hokkaido sea urchin on brioche made with miyeokguk seaweed) butter topped with sea salt by Jinmo Jang; 3) Steaming hot pizza bread made from Roberta's pizza dough as our bread course by Carlo Mirarchi; the entrance to Roberta's/ Blanca's; after service with the chefs and front of house
From L-R: My faves for the evening: Foie gras with signature chocolate coating by Hyun Seok Choi- Korea’s answer to Heston Blumenthal; Hokkaido sea urchin on brioche made with miyeokguk (Korean seaweed) butter topped with sea salt by Jinmo Jang; 3) Steaming hot pizza bread made from Roberta’s pizza dough as our bread course by Carlo Mirarchi; the entrance to Roberta’s/ Blanca’s; after service with the chefs and front of house

#KOREANYC GALA DINNER AT JUNGSIK IN TRIBECA

The culminating gala dinner for KOREANYC was two nights after, at Jungsik in Tribeca, where host chef Jungsik Yim cooked alongside top Seoul-based chefs Mingoo Kang (Mingles), Hyunseok-Choi (Elbon), Tony Yoo (24 Seasons), Jinmo Jang (A&ND Dining) —making that a 10-hands dinner.

How were these chefs selected? According to La Main editor in chief Jang Eun Sil, “The leaders of the new Korean food movement are chefs Jungsik and Mingoo (both their restaurants are part of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list). Tony Yoo does traditional Korean cuisine. And with Jingmo and Choi, we wanted to show how Korean food can be transformed into the avant-garde. It was a showcase of the diversity, the variety and of traditional and modern Korean cuisine.”

KoreaNYC Gala Dinner at Jungsik in Tribeca, New York City- World's 50 Best 2016
From top to bottom: Perfectly cooked octopus served with gochu-jang by Jungsik Yim; Banchan of toasted barley, grasshoppers on purple potato chips, and songhwa-yugwa (a ball made from powdered sticky rice) by Tony Yoo; Mingoo Kang (Mingles), Hyunseok-Choi (Elbon), Tony Yoo (24 Seasons), Jinmo Jang (A&ND Dining); Scallop with E-Wha Ju Dressing by Mingoo Kang

#50BESTTALKS AND “CHEF’S TABLE” SCREENING

The day before the awards ceremony, the “#50BestTalks: The Tastemaker” was held at the International Culinary Center, where chefs Dominique Crenn (also this year’s World’s Best Female Chef), Andre Chiang, Mingoo Kang and Yannick Alleno were speakers. There was a special screening of the Gaggan Anand episode from Netflix’s critically acclaimed “Chef’s Table “series, where director and producer David Gelb (also the man behind “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”) and Gaggan were present for a Q&A session. The moving story of Gaggan’s hardships in his hometown of Kolkata was interspersed with his successes as Asia’s No. 1 restaurant.

Chef's Table Episode GAGGAN Anand- David Gelb, Gaggan Anand, Cheryl Tiu, Evelyn Chen
What a precious experience it was to watch the screening of the Gaggan Anand episode with the man behind it– director & producer David Gelb (he also did “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”) and of course, Asia’s #1 himself Gaggan, with my dear friend & Chairwoman for Asia’s 50 Best- South, Evelyn Chen at #50BestTalks. (Photo by Jean Fernando)

THE GREAT AUSSIE BRUNCH AT THE NOMAD HOTEL

When you receive an invitation called “The Great Aussie Brunch” with chefs Ben Shewry (Attica, Melbourne), Dan Hunter (Brae, Birregurra), Neil Perry (Rockpool, Sydney & Melbourne) and Peter Gilmore (Quay, Sydney) ON THE GRILL– you don’t even think– the answer is, hell yeah! This was held the morning after the awards ceremony + after party (11AM to 1PM) and a lot of us were there, well-present! My faves were Ben Shewry’s egg dish, and Neil Perry’s grilled shrimps.. and as for the Australian wines present: the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2014 from Margaret River in Western Australia.

(And no, the dress code was not white. This is all purely coincidental :-))

The Great Aussie brunch on the The Nomad Hotel rooftop- New York City- Cheryl Tiu, Vladimir Mukhin, Rodolfo Guzman, Ben Shewry, Neil Perry Rockpool- World's 50 Best 2016 New Yor
Clockwise from top: Me, with Vladimir Mukhin of White Rabbit in Moscow Russia, #18 and Rodolfo Guzman of Borago in Chile, #36; Neil Perry manning the barbie, cooking shrimps for us; the pretty rooftop of The Nomad Hotel for our Aussie brunch; Ben Shewry of Attica making us eggs!

ITALIAN CHEFS PRESS CONFERENCE AT EATALY

So they said there was a press conference/ gathering with the Italian chefs at Eataly right after the brunch.. here, they honored and congratulated Massimo Bottura.. and Mario Batali even made an appearance! If you’ve seen the first episode of “Chef’s Table,” you’ll see how when Alain Ducasse phoned Massimo and invited him to Monte Carlo to teach his staff how to make fresh pasta– he dropped everything– including his relationship with (his now-wife), Lara Gilmore. So this tight meaningful hug was so precious. <3

PS How serendipitous it is that Massimo won the first time the awards was held in NYC– the very city where he and Lara met?!

Italian Press Conference at Eataly- Mario Batali, Cheryl Tiu, Pierre Herme, Massimo Bottura, Alain Ducasse- World's 50 BEst 2015- New York City
If you watched the 1st episode of “Chef’s Table” featuring Massimo Bottura, you will understand his relationship with Alain Ducasse (although in the end, he chose to fly back to be with his now-wife Lara instead of staying on in Paris.. awww!!!) Here’s the tightest hug between the two. *Alain had asked Massimo to come to Paris to teach his staff how to make fresh pasta and that became the biggest deal in the world for Massimo so he immediately packed his bags and left.

……..AND…………. A CROSS CULTURES BY CHERYL TIU CHEFS COLLABORATORS REUNION!!!

It was so heart-warming for me to reunite with all my amazing chef collaborators during this World’s 50 Best period. For those who don’t know, I run an events platform called Cross Cultures, where we promote the exchange of cultures though food. We’re so fortunate (and grateful!) to have had Gaggan Anand, Yoshihiro Narisawa and son Leo (Narisawa), Virgilio Martinez (Central), Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil) and Jungsik (Jungsik) collaborate with us, and restaurant partner Gallery Vask in the Philippines– and we had the happiest smiles and the biggest hugs when we all saw each other again in another part of the world. As Massimo Bottura said in his acceptance speech, “The most important ingredient for the future is culture.” The only one missing here is Chelito!!! :( But who knows, maybe next year! 😀

Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu Reunion- Narisawa, Gaggan, Central, Quintonil, Jungsik- World's 50 Best
Crossing Cultures!!! Counterclockwise from top: With the amazing Narisawa family (Yuko, Leo and Yoshihiro) at the awards ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street; with Virgilio Martinez at the Aussie brunch at The Nomad Hotel; with Rashmi Uday Singh and Gaggan Anand at the KoreaNYC Gala dinner at Jungsik, with Jean Salonga and Jungsik Yim at the KoreaNYC Gala dinner at Jungsik , and with Jorge Vallejo at the after-party at Eleven Madison Park