On Wednesday 5 April, Melbourne’s grand old Royal Exhibition Building was dressed to the nines to welcome a cavalcade of international gastronomic stars to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards.
The evening was as convivial and indulgent as one might expect, when the world’s most discerning tastebuds are in attendance. Guests were spoiled with a seemingly endless, lavish array of Australian seafood, meat and produce masterfully prepared by local culinary heavyweight Neil Perry. The chef and his Rockpool catering team were stationed within a striking wireframe installation at the heart of the historic building, a riot of flora on an industrial scale by award-winning designer and passionate sustainability advocate Joost Bakker. Each stall representing event sponsors, including the likes of Miele, Etihad and Lavazza, held an abundance of delicious morsels or finely balanced cocktails for passers-by.
Following last year’s event, held in New York, this is only the second time the prestigious award has traveled anywhere outside of London – and the Aussie crowd certainly relished the opportunity to show their patriotic support on home soil. The Australian flag was represented by two celebrated restaurants from this year’s host state: Ben Shewry’s Attica in Melbourne’s south east (also named The Best Restaurant in Australasia), and new entry Brae, helmed by Dan Hunter in regional Victoria.
Entertaining the audience with her humorous acceptance speech, the self-trained Ana Roš of restaurant Hiša Franko, Slovenia, was named The World’s Best Female Chef. Septime in Paris was the recipient of the Sustainable Restaurant Award, sponsored by Silestone. On taking out the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award, epicurean alchemist Heston Blumenthal offered some deeply considered foodie philosophy for the crowd to chew on, echoing his memorable sentiments on an appearance on The Project earlier this week.
But the night truly belonged to this year’s overall winners: the talented team from Eleven Madison Park, in New York. The restaurant’s co-owners, Will Guidara and Swiss-born chef Daniel Humm, gave heartfelt speeches in gratitude to the rest of their team who had gathered to watch the livestream back in their hometown.
Words by Sandra Tan
Photography by Johnny Angel