…at least not according to the 2010 selections for San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The annual rankings were released at 9pm on Monday night, and the panel of 800+ chefs and critics have named Copenhagen’s Noma as the top restaurant in 2010. Chef René Redzepi takes the crown from Ferran Adrià (El Bulli), who moves down a spot after after four consecutive years at #1.

So how does France fare in the ninth edition of this controversial list? Not well. There’s not a single French restaurant among the top ten, whose ranks include 4 Spanish and 3 American restaurants. Only 6 French restaurants made the top 50 in 2010, down from 8 in 2009. Pierre Gagnaire has tumbled from #3 in 2008 to #9 in 2009 to #13. He is eclipsed in 2010 by what is now the highest ranking French restaurant: Inaki Aizpitarte’s Le Chateaubriand (#11).

Once considered as the world’s undisputed leader of cuisine, France now has an almost equal number of restaurants in the top 50 as Italy and Spain (both of whom have more restaurants in the top 10). The United States, which continues to be derided by many French as a land of super-sized junk cuisine, has the highest number of restaurants (8!) on the 2010 list.

So what’s the deal? Is the quality of French cuisine slipping? Are people growing weary of traditional French cuisine? Is it a question of atmosphere? What does it say that the French restaurants who performed best are the least traditional in terms of technique and atmosphere?

After the jump, the full list of the World’s Best Restaurants for 2010.

1 Noma Denmark
2 El Bulli Spain
7 Alinea USA
8 Daniel USA
10 Per Se United States
11 Le Chateaubriand France (up from #40 in 2009)
12 La Colombe South Africa
13 Pierre Gagnaire France (fallen from #9 in 2009 and #3 in 2008)
14 Hotel de Ville Switzerland
16 L’Astrance Franc(fallen from #11 in 2009 and 2008)
17 Hof van Cleve Belgium
20 Le Calandre Italy
21 Steirereck Austria
22 Vendome Germany
23 Chez Dominique Finland
28 Iggy’s Singapore
29 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Franc(fallen from #18 in 2009 and #14 in 2008)
30 Schloss Schauenstein Switzerland
31 Le Quartier Francais South Africa
34 Aqua Germany
35 Combal Zero Italy
36 Dal Pescatore Italy
37 De Librije Netherlands
38 Tetsuya’s Australia
39 Jaan par Andre Singapore
41 Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee France (not included in 2009)
42 Oaxen Krog Sweden
43 St John UK
45 wd~50 USA
46 Biko Mexico
49 Hibiscus UK

12 Responses to The World’s Best Restaurants are not in France

  1. adrian says:

    Like a friend of mine (and one of the judge’s of this list) said: “Adrian , it’s just a fun party with lots of chefs”. I’ll leave it at that. It’s just not that important.

  2. adrian says:

    …and Inaki better than Gagnaire and Barbot?? Sorry , I know you’re a drooling fangirl ;) but I can’t stomach that..

  3. Meg says:

    I hardly think that one even-tempered review (http://megzimbeck.com/2009/06/le-chateaubriand-still-a-circus/)
    in the summer of 2009 qualifies as drooling ;)

  4. adrian says:

    Haha! Touché. I share your opinion. Just that guy is SO DAMN GOOD LOOKING……

  5. Meg says:

    But seriously, Adrian, do you really think this list can be so easily dismissed? The methods aren’t perfect, to be sure, and it’s meant to be light and fun, but even so… it gives me pause.

  6. James says:

    I for one don’t take this list seriously, but I agree that there’s a real problem with French cuisine. I haven’t eaten at Gagnaire and so can’t speak to that, but French cooks seem to lack the inspiration and imagination that you now find in other countries.

  7. Nicolas Ronceray says:

    Je me réveille et que vois-je ? Encore un classement de plus pour riches gastronomes qui pour moi placent leur égo et leur palais (ainsi que leur po(r)te monnaie) au dessus de tout.
    Si c’est ça le bon goût ?!!!!
    Avec tout le respect que j’ai pour Noma (leur sommelier est un chic type), pour Iniaki et son équipe ainsi que pour tous les autres, je pense que tenir compte de ce classement (et du guide et autres produits dérivés qui vont certainement en découler) équivaut à tenir compte du guide Parker et autres du même accabit pour le vin par exemple, pour au fond aboutir à une standardisation pure et simple de la diversité culinaire mondiale, puisque c’est du Monde dont il est question. Quid des autres, simples ou complexes, typés ou typiques, etc ?
    Quelque part ça me fait rire, mais au fond ça m’effraie.

    Sinon j’espère que tu vas bien et que tu te régales où que tu sois ! Amitiés !

  8. Sharon Bowman says:

    Je suis plutôt d’accord. La comparaison avec le guide Parker est bien vue… mais pour la standardisation ? Ça, je suis moins convaincue. Ce qui est bizarre (ou intéressant, inversement) dans ce classement, c’est le mélange total entre grande gastronomie et petits trucs branchés. Mais penser pouvoir dire : Ceci est LE MEILLEUR et cela est MOINS BON que l’autre… Bof. Pas très palpitant.

  9. Randy Diaz says:

    Taste is subjective, and as with cuisine also evolves. The French taught us cooking standards and to strive for better, as would a teacher with their students. The highest number of Michelin rated restaurants is in Japan, not France? But many award winning Chefs were influence by the French.

    Personally, I don’t think the French are slipping, but I do believe that as you questioned, “are people growing weary of traditional french cuisine?” my answer would be yes.

  10. amy says:

    are people sick of french cuisine? than why do fourteen of these restaurants have french names? and how many more are in some way working in a french idiom? I think this list really shows how far french culture is spreading.

  11. Adam says:

    Interesting take on the subject here, including interview with winning chef, Rene Redzepi:

    “It was noticeable, after all, how few French chefs were lauded on the Guildhall stage. “If they are not progressing as they should perhaps they feel a bit trapped. But it is only time before someone breaks out.”

    Who is going to break out in Paris then and start foraging for food in the Bois de Vincennes?

  12. Randy Diaz says:

    Just saw a special on TV (DW-TV) about factors influencing the 800 judges in picking the top restaurants:

    1. Trends — moving away from molecular style cooking to “Scandinavian” cuisine.
    2. Stagnation — It seems the judges were looking for innovative/creative food. The French have not really been innovative in the past year.
    3. Formality — Because of the recession, many restaurants went from very being very formal to more informal atmosphere.

    I agree with their assessments…

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