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The Asian dining spaces named World's 50 Best Restaurants

Singapore's Odette has been ranked eighth best restaurant in the world (pictured is chef Julien Royer).

Asia has scored highly at The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2021 ceremony after a tumultuous year, with Asian venues taking eight spots plus awards for Best Restaurant in Asia and World's Best Pastry Chef.

However, the night belonged to Europe with Denmark cementing its position as foodie capital of the world; two Copenhagen restaurants, Noma and Geranium, took first and second place.

The World's Best 50 Restaurants awards are the Oscars of the gastronomic world and the winners were announced at a glitzy ceremony in Antwerp, Belgium this week, in a welcome return of yet another global event that fell victim to the pandemic last year.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants has been running since 2002 with a panel of more than 1,000 culinary experts sitting down at tables around the world. Every year they whittle down a list of what they consider to be the finest dining spots globally. This year’s list hails from 26 different countries, with eight restaurants making their debut in the top 50.

Singapore fielded two top 50 entrants this year and Hong Kong one. Odette moved up eight places to number eight in the rankings and was also named Best Restaurant in Asia. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s renowned The Chairman took the number ten spot, as well as the ‘Best Climber Award’. Singapore's Burnt Ends made its debut in the rankings at number 34.

Asia as a whole scored well in this year’s list. Tokyo’s Narisawa was ranked 19th, Shanghai’s Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet 35th, Florilege in Tokyo at 39 and Bangkok’s Suhring at 40. Will Goldfaarb of Room4Dessert in Bali was named 'World’s Best Pastry Chef'.

The winning restaurant, three-Michelin starred Noma, is helmed by chef René Redpezi. The restaurant opened in Copenhagen’s Christianshavn district in 2003 and won World’s Best Restaurant in 2010. In 2019 50 Best introduced a new rule, making previous winners ineligible from winning again. However, because Noma closed in 2016 and reopened in a new location two years later it made the cut this time. Previous winners are now listed in a ‘Best of the Best’ category.

Redpezi focuses on unusual seasonal ingredients with a menu divided into three phases - seafood in winter, vegetables in summer and game and forest in the autumn. Ingredients are foraged locally.

“Noma has arguably been the most influential restaurant of its generation, setting new standards in terms of research and ingredient sourcing, dish development and presentation,” said William Drew, director of content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Accepting his award on stage in Antwerp, Redpezi looked back on what has been one of the worst year's on record for the hospitality industry. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s about how fragile our dreams can be, how incredibly gruelling and difficult this industry can be,” he said. “I want to recognise all the restaurants and industry people who have fought for survival. It feels a little weird to be standing on this stage knowing there are so many people still fighting.”

As well as ranking dining spaces, the awards last year began hosting fund-raising events to support the hospitality industry. The 50 Best for Recovery programme was supported by event partners S. Pelligrino and Acqua Panna and raised US$1.29 million. Grants were distributed to more than 200 embattled restaurants and bars as well as various non-profit organisations in the food and drink sector.

“It’s wonderful to see eight new restaurants making their debut as well as two re-entries after one of the most challenging periods the sector has seen,” said Drew. “It has been an honour to witness the resilience and community spirit of so many restaurants on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and beyond.”

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