Eleven Madison Park in New York triumphed Wednesday in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, becoming the first U.S. establishment to win the top spot since 2004.
Chef Daniel Humm’s contemporary American restaurant toppled Italy’s Osteria Francescana, which came in second after winning the title for the first time last year. Spanish restaurant El Celler de Can Roca came in third.
The winners were announced in a ceremony at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. The list is decided by a panel of more than 1,000 chefs, food writers and other experts from 26 geographical regions.
Humm and co-owner Will Guidara serve a seasonal tasting menu that features dishes such as sea urchin custard with baby squid, bay scallop and apple; and pear poached with honey and acorn. The latest menu costs $295 plus tax for 11 courses.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought that I could find myself in this position,” Humm said shortly after winning. “Cuisine has given me everything: I left school at 14 and pursued a craft that no one believed in at the time. Everything I have learned has been from food: languages, culture. I have traveled the world and met Will, who is my best friend as well as my business partner. It is unbelievable.”
The awards started in 2002, the product of a brainstorming session in a pub about how to promote U.K.-based Restaurant magazine. That first year, the list was compiled informally by calling around to the magazine editors’ friends in the hospitality industry.
They only realized what they had on their hands when chefs started contacting them to ask about an awards ceremony—which they hadn’t planned. The list’s popularity quickly grew, and it became a global phenomenon.
The dining room at Eleven Madison Park. Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg
When Copenhagen restaurant Noma first won in 2010, 100,000 people tried to book online the following day. And after El Celler de Can Roca’s 2013 victory, its website received 12 million hits. Three extra employees were hired to turn turn down requests for tables, and the waiting list grew to one year, according to chef Joan Roca.
This is the first time that a U.S. restaurant has won since chef Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville, California, took the title in 2003 and 2004. All the subsequent winners have been European.
The World’s 50 Best is published by William Reed Business Media. Among the major sponsors are Australia.com; S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna; and Diners Club International.
The second half of the list — restaurants 51 to 100 — was posted earlier online.
A re-interpreted crab cake at Osteria Francescana, ranked No. 2 this year.
The Top 50 (Last year’s place in parentheses)
— With assistance from Kate Krader.
(An earlier version of this story misidentified the location of Hof van Cleve.)