World's 50 Best Restaurants 2017: Attica and Brae make the list

Chefs Ben Shewry from Attica (left) and Dan Hunter from Brae at the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards at the Royal ...
Chefs Ben Shewry from Attica (left) and Dan Hunter from Brae at the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards at the Royal Exhibition Building. Photo: Paul Jeffers

In a huge night for Australian food two Victorian restaurants have made the World's 50 Best Restaurants list.

At a gala event held on home turf, regional Victorian restaurant Brae and Melbourne's Attica were named among the top 50 restaurants in the world, on what is the industry's most respected rankings list.

Held at the historic Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, it was only the second time the Oscars of the food world have been hosted outside London.
 

Australians among World's 50 Best Restaurants

Brae cracks this year's top 50 list and Attica is named Australasia's best restaurant as Australian chefs leave their mark on the international dining scene.

Dan Hunter's four-year-old regional restaurant, Brae in Birregurra, came in at number 44 to crack the top 50 and join Ben Shewry's Ripponlea restaurant Attica, which moved up one place to 32 in its fifth year on the coveted list.

Manhattan's Eleven Madison Park has been named the world's best restaurant, while 2016 winner Osteria Francescana moved to second place. Past winner El Celler de Can Roca in Spain rounded out the top three. 

Swiss-born chef Daniel Humm and general manager Will Guidara, a native New Yorker, bought the Eleven Madison Park together in 2011 from then-owner and manager Danny Meyer. It's the restaurant where the words "dress code" are probably more Googled than "menu" (there actually isn't one; just remember to take off your hat in the restaurant), a place famous for its service and its impeccable attention to detail.

Snacks at Brae in Birregurra.
Snacks at Brae in Birregurra. Photo: David Clemson

"All of us here, we have the chance to give people the grace to forget about something for a moment, we get to give them a bit of magic in a world that needs more of it," Humm said as he accepted the award.

Brae's inclusion in the list will come as little surprise to those who have tracked Hunter's career. He's the chef who made a three-and-a-half hour trek from Melbourne to the Royal Mail Hotel in the town of Dunkeld an essential pilgrimage for city-dwellers when he was cooking there. When Hunter landed in Birregurra with Brae, a produce-driven, garden-girt restaurant that read as fully-formed from day one, he promptly won every local award including three hats and The Age Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year.

Since hitting the World's 50 Best Restaurants' longer 51-100 list two years ago, diners have been waiting for the ascension. 

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The slightly higher placing of Shewry's Attica should be especially sweet for the chef, as it is the second year he has also been the owner of the suburban fine diner. Sweeter still, the awards taking place in Melbourne   mean both Hunter and Shewry can celebrate on home turf.

Shewry was predictably thrilled. "We're a small restaurant and we work really hard. It's an incredible achievement for the team – 32 people and they're just incredible. 

On Brae joining Attica in the top 50, Shewry says "It's better than our own award. The guys at Brae are our friends and they push us and inspire us every day. There's never any jealousy, it's just great for us and for Victoria."

Inside the newly revamped Attica.
Inside the newly revamped Attica. Photo: Tom Blachford

Attica was the best placed Australasian restaurant, while Gaggan in Bangkok was crowned Asia's best at number seven.

Dan Hunter is attending the event with wife and business partner Julianne Bagnato, sous chef Damien Neylon and restaurant manager Simon Freeman. The town's Royal Mail Hotel streamed the awards, and by the end of the ceremony the team had already sent celebratory photos to Hunter.

"This means a lot to my team, they're from a little town called Birregurra and they're 20 years old."

Dan Hunter's Brae cracked the top 50 this year, coming in at number 44.
Dan Hunter's Brae cracked the top 50 this year, coming in at number 44. Photo: Paul Jeffers

When asked what the award meant to him, Hunter said: "More work."

If you haven't booked Brae already, good luck. The first time Noma secured the No.1 spot in 2010, Bloomberg reported 100,000 people tried to book a table overnight. According to The New Yorker, when El Celler de Can Roca took the gong in 2013, they broke the Spanish internet with 2.5 million booking requests in the first 24 hours. 

Expat chef David Thompson saw his Bangkok restaurant Nahm move from 37 to 28 while fellow Australian Brett Graham of the Ledbury in London now sits at 27, down from last year's score of 14.