The Academy Awards of the culinary scene, World’s 50 Best Restaurants, is not immune to international conflict. After a very long pause, 2021 marked the successful return to live awards shows hosted in the hidden food gem of Antwerp. The Belgian food scene proved to be far more than frites with local favorite, The Jane, gracing the list at number sixty-six. During the weekend, East Flanders neighbor Hof Van Clef celebrated reaching number thirty-six while Willem Hiele’s Koksijde had previously ranked seventy-seven.
After a warranted hiatus, the victorious return to in-person ceremonies included waves of dinners, parties and celebrations. With honorees including Dominique Crenn who received an Icon award, world renowned Noma’s sweep as the number one restaurant pick and the Champions of Change saluting work to heal the US incarceration system. As a direct result of current conflict and in a turn that’s not altogether surprising, the vaunted ceremony has been relocated. the World’s 50 best has announced that their 2022 presentation ceremony which was to take place in Moscow will now be held in London.
Noma founder René Redzepi and his team were jubilant at the Antwerp celebrations and after winning a number one spot. Known for creating the genre of New Nordic Cuisine they have introduced a seasonal dining model in Copenhagen’s Refshalevej Island. Expect fishing, foraging and fermentation on every plate from tail to nose dishes including the occasional reindeer phallus when in season.
Atelier Crenn graced San Francisco’s Cow Hollow district with her inimitable ‘poetic culinaria’ approach to food where a traditional menu is replaced by a chef penned poem. With three Michelin stars she’s clearly on to something special. As a World’s 50 Best Restaurant starting in 2019 her meals are designed to be multi-coursed and intimate using the chef’s own Sonoma farmed sustainable produce. Her Brittany inspired sister restaurant, Petit Crenn, only compliments the farm to table aesthetic.
World’s Best Female Chef, Pía León of Kjolle, has made an indelible mark in the Latin American food landscape and the world at large. While her Peruvian restaurants have celebrated the abundance of local grains and produce she is a champion of biodiversity. Her destination restaurant, Mil, is located in Cusco in the Andes. The common thread between her establishments is a distinct nod to Peruvian geography which contains elevations ranging from the sea to the mountains to the Amazon.
US Chef, Kurt Evans of Philadelphia, has been fighting mass incarceration using food since 2018 with a dinner series aptly dubbed “End Mass Incarceration.” The goal was to break bread with policy makers and the community as well as incarcerated folks in the hopes of finding common ground. With the money raised donated to a variety of charitable organizations such as Books Through Bars Evans moved on to New York based Drive Change. Evans who acted as the culinary director for the non-profit that gives formerly incarcerated youth culinary skills and training was at a loss when the program was discontinued during the pandemic. He moved back to Philadelphia and with Muhammad Abdul-Hadi, co-founded Down North Pizza. Their mission is clear, to employ formerly incarcerated individuals and give them the hands-on skills to launch a culinary career. By July 2020, Evans newest project called Everybody Eats Philly, became a collaborative with the help of a team of Black chefs to combat food insecurity in bring community back to the city he loves.