Awards season is open
September is always an active month. In the world of gastronomy, award ceremonies are making a comeback after a long pause due to the pandemic. Globe-trotting chefs seem to be hungry for hitting the road again to meet at such occasions, especially if they are about to grab an award. Last year many events were postponed or held in a virtual environment, but now some have started to take place again. Some activities, on the other hand, have gotten used to the virtual environment, continue to do so and even take advantage of it. This is very much true for the food-related symposiums -- many resorted to be online events, and most will remain to be so, enabling people from afar countries to share their papers from their desks with a nice background of their messy libraries. When it comes to the symposiums, going virtual might attract young academics that do not have the budget to travel to attend such meetings, and virtual meetings really do work well, so it is a wise way to go. But awards do not have the same excitement when they are virtual. They need the glamour and the glitter, and of course, the partying, so such occasions never have the same vibe in the online world. Now that fall season is open, here are some reflections from last week.
Top 100 chefs
Last week, there was a chef awards event in Amsterdam. “The Best Chef Awards 2021” was announced at a live awards Gala dinner, a rather new organization that has been getting more and more attention in recent years. The Best Chef is not only an award but also an organization that includes a series of events. In addition to the awards, there are a series of talks under the title Area Talks and many interesting topics presented at the Food Meets Science conference. The Best Chef was founded in 2015 by Polish neuroscientist Joanna Slusarczyk and Italian gastronomist Cristian Gadau as a platform bringing together the leaders in the world of gastronomy to discuss current topics in the world of fine dining. In 2017 the Best Chef Awards came into play. The awards were first given in Warsaw in 2017, followed by Milan in 2018 and Barcelona in 2019. The award, which took place virtually in 2020, was held again this year live in Amsterdam.
The system has an interesting operation. First of all, the chef himself or herself is the focus. The creativity of the chef, his/her approach to food, and the difference that stands out from the others are taken into consideration rather than other features of the restaurant and its location, etc. First, there is a shortlist of 200 nominees. Half of this list is the Top 100 Chefs from the previous year. In addition to previous winners, 100 new names are added each year, which are determined by 100 anonymous professional names from around the globe. The voting is done by the chefs themselves and the anonymous professionals. So, in short, chefs are voting for each other. They have a quota of 10 votes in total, ranging from high to low, listing their top 10. Chefs’ votes make up 70 percent of overall votes, they are surely more influential in the creation of top.
This year’s Top 100 winner powered by Perlage is Madrid-based Spanish chef Dabiz Muñoz of DiverXO. Swedish chef Björn Frantzén from Stockholm repeated his second-place once again, and the third is Basque chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz from San Sebastián. That last one was a phenomenal huge jump from his previous position on last year’s list from 45th position to number 3.
Unfortunately, there are no Turkish chefs in the top 100 list this year. But Turkey was, in a way, represented at the awards ceremony by Gökmen Sözen, the famed organizer of gastronomy events in Turkey, holding the pulse of the industry. He continuously visits all the leading chefs in the world and invites them to the events he organizes in Turkey. He managed to turn the Gastromasa event into a meeting arena for world chefs. Interestingly, he published the portrait of Dabiz Muñoz on the cover of the last issue of his Food in Life magazine and did an interview about the DiverXo restaurant. At the same issue of the magazine, interestingly, I also devoted my piece to Slovenian chef Ana Roš and her newly released book Sun and Rain, who ranked seventh at rocket high speed this year. The Slovenian table at the award ceremony seemed to be having a hell of a good time, mostly, ladies, as “The Best Chef Pastry Award” powered by Valrhona went to the pastry chef Maša Salopek of Hiša Franko, Ana’s restaurant in Kobarid, Slovenia. Well done, ladies!
There are other awards besides the Top 100 list, for instance, Spanish chef Joan Roca, who applies science in a genius way to his kitchen, got “The Best Chef Science Award” powered by LSG Group, while the “Legend Chef Award” powered by Chopin was awarded to the legendary Italian chef Alfonso Iaccarino, who still has an influence on new generations of chefs in Italy. This particular award is dedicated to iconic names of cuisine who are not active in the kitchen anymore but still have a crucial impact on the world of gastronomy. Franco Pepe, about who I wrote only a week ago when mentioning Italian State Star Medals, also received the title of best pizza chef in the world. There are also those who received the award as a team. For instance, the inseparable trio of the Disfrutar team from Barcelona shared sixth place. They have a special place in my heart, I celebrated my birthday at their place five years ago, the flavors still lingering in my memory, and I intend to repeat the experience in November. Another teamwork is displayed by the RIJKS team, the museum restaurant of Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, led by Joris Bijdendijk, received the special Gourmet 21 Award. It is not only the teams but also siblings sharing the awards; the inseparable brothers Ivan & Sergey Berezutskiy from Moscow and Thomas and Mathias Sühring twins from Bangkok naturally shared their places at 62 and 73, respectively. To admit, I did not attend the event myself, my many friends and chefs were there, the foremost being the man behind the whole vent, Kristian Brask Thomsen, the Barcelona-based Danish gourmet brand ambassador of chefs and restaurants, otherwise known as Ambassador Bon-Vivant, they all apparently had a good time, adhering this year’s theme back to “live” and back to reality.
To access the full list visit: www.thebestchefawards.com