Cava rains down in El Celler de Can Roca, crowned world’s best restaurant

Roca brothers’ Girona eatery reclaims the top spot in ‘Restaurant’ magazine’s ranking

Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca after picking up their prize on Monday night.
Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca after picking up their prize on Monday night.LEON NEAL (AFP)

Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca reclaimed its position as the world’s best restaurant on Monday night.

The Girona eatery last year ceded the number one spot on Restaurant magazine’s prestigious 50 Best list to Denmark’s Noma, which was relegated to third place this time around, behind Italy’s Osteria Francescana de Modena.

But El Celler has now returned to the top thanks to the strength of a restaurant that unites the talents of the three Roca brothers who helm it: Joan in the kitchen, sommelier Josep and dessert specialist Jordi, last year recognized as the best pastry chef on the planet.

Spanish restaurants have topped the list at over half of the last 13 ceremonies

The new victory once again reflects the vitality of Spanish cuisine, which has topped the list at over half of the last 13 ceremonies, with Catalan chef Ferran Adrià winning five times – in 2002 and between 2006 and 2009 – and the Roca brothers triumphing twice.

In Girona, relatives, friends and staff who had gathered to watch the London ceremony at the restaurant of Montserrat Fontané and Josep Roca, the three brothers’ parents, greeted the news with cheers, applause, whistles and liters of cava.

As the countdown wore on, the tension grew, but nerves finally gave way to euphoria after the announcement that Noma had placed third. The news of Osteria Francescana de Modena’s second spot made it definitive and the restaurant began to rain cava – a total of three cases, or 18 bottles soaking the 60 or so people inside.

“I don’t know if I will get to see them much,” the brothers’ mother said with a mixture of joy and sadness. “Last year I saw them a bit more but not much. Each year it gets more difficult.”

Elsewhere, Spanish cuisine maintained its standing in the British publication’s list, albeit with some changes. Andoni Luis Aduriz’s Mugaritz retained its top 10 position in sixth, though regular presence in the 10 best, Juan Mari Arzak, slipped down to 17th place.

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Spain reclaims the top spot in 'Restaurant' magazine’s Top 50

He was overtaken by the spectacular rise of Bittor Arguinzoniz’s Asador Etxebarri in Atxondo (Bizkaia), which jumped from 34th to 13th.

In total, Spain retains seven establishments among the top 50, with Eneko Atxa’s Azurmendi, also in Bizkaia, at number 19, Quique Dacosta’s Dénia resturant in 39th, and Albert Adrià’s Barcelona-based Tickets in 42nd.

Josean Martínez Alija’s Nerua restaurant inside the Guggenheim Bilbao entered the list for the first time in 68th place, while Martín Berasategui’s Lasarte slipped out of the top 50 into 61st. Berasategui, who boasts the most Michelin stars of any Spanish chef, has on various occasions publicly expressed his disagreement with Restaurant magazine’s judgements.

Madrid chef David Muñoz’s DiverXO, the only Spanish restaurant with three Michelin stars, jumped from 94th in 2014 to 59th place this year. The imminent opening of his London restaurant is one of the most hotly anticipated gastronomic events of the year.

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