Life

A Visual Tour Of The Newly-Named #1 Restaurant On Earth

Choosing to open a restaurant is an endeavor that often pushes chefs to the very brink of madness. The necessary business acumen, interpersonal skills, journeyman endurance, creativity and mastery of cooking technique are rarely found inhabiting one body. Yet every year, scores of chefs strike out on their own in hopes of building something special.

A daring few of these chefs decide to step into the stormy waters of fine-dining — attempting to create an experience that is unparalleled anywhere in the world. These bold cooks strive in each detail to give us glimpses of pure joy and originality. This is food as art and for those of us who are eager to spend our recreation dollar on eating, the feelings it elicits are tough to quantify.

Is it the creativity? The flavor combinations? The artistry? The sense memory? Probably all of the above.

The 50 Best Restaurants in the World is the holy grail for restaurateurs worldwide. To be listed is a supreme honor. But, as with all awards, not being number one means you’re simply not the best. If you’re number 50 to number 6, you are gracious and happy just to have been nominated. The top five know that their eminence is unparalleled on the world stage. Alas, at the end of the day, there is only one.


This year, Massimo Bottura and his team at Osteria Francescana, from Modena, Italy, stand at the mountaintop. Massimo believed in his hole-in-the-wall in Modena when no one knew that Italian food could be wildly innovative, while retaining its familiar notes. He strove for excellence night after night, scraping by with a few guests here, and a few guests there — until one fateful night a food critic got a flat tire and happened upon Massimo’s hole-in-the-wall. One review later, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Massimo values family above all. His restaurant staffs 43 people for 30 nightly covers. That’d be like your local McDonald’s having 200 people working at any given time.

My best ingredient is my mind. I mean, I travel with my mind. One thing I think that is very important is not to get a revolution in the kitchen, but to let the cooks feel safe.

Italian food culture is conservative. They know what works. They know their identity. Massimo and his team were able to subvert and reinvent that without ever leaving the cultural sweet spot. They’ve been doing so for two decades with quiet patience and solid confidence.


Every year The World’s 50 Best Restaurants change. Eleven Madison Park and El Celler de Can Roca both had time in the limelight. They each may well have another shot again soon. But nothing is certain and the evolution of food culture never stops. Even the legendary Noma is changing — with a new location and many of their classic staff moving on. For now, Massimo and his team are in that number one spot.

×