Chef Ben Shewry of Attica restaurant in Melbourne. Photo: Eddie Jim
Melbourne's Attica has once again been named Australia's finest restaurant at The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards, holding steady at number 32.
Attica is the only Australian restaurant in the lauded top 50 international list, sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. Speaking to Good Food at the awards ceremony, chef Ben Shewry paid tribute to his team.
Pears and maidenii dish at Attica. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen
"It feels really awesome, I'm so honoured to be included and it's a beautiful recognition of the hard work of my team both at Attica and at home. They are the ones who make this recognition possible and they deserve all the glory," Shewry said.
El Celler de Can Roca returned to the top spot. The restaurant is a stunning, purpose built gastrodome owned by the Roca brothers - Joan, Josep and Jordi - whose food walks a perfectly balanced line between scientific almost geeky technique and fun, beguiling flavours respectful of local Spanish cuisine.
Massimo Bottura's Osteria Francescana in Italy took out second place.
One to watch: Chef Martin Benn of Sydney's Sepia restaurant. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Rene Redzepi's Noma in Copenhagen, which has been voted number one in the world four times, was ranked third this year.
The first award of the evening delivered a huge goal for Sydney when Martin Benn from Sepia took out the coveted One To Watch award.
"There is no other way to describe it other than that we completely overwhelmed and so proud to be Australian right now," Sepia co-owner Vicki Wild said.
World's 50 Best Restaurants awards 2015
Number one: A dish at Celler De Can Roca. Photo: Supplied
Sepia's chef Martin Benn, speaking to Good Food at the awards after-party in the crypt of London's Guildhall said: "I can't describe the feeling of having Thomas Keller come up to me and say congratulations. I have looked up to chefs like him all my life and now they know my name."
High profile Australian expat chef Brett Graham at his two Michelin-starred The Ledbury in Notting Hill dropped from number 10 to 20. It is indicative of a list which sees huge rises and falls in all but the top three spots year on year.
The World's 50 Best, started in 2002 by British Restaurant magazine, is the most respected and anticipated restaurant hit-list of its type internationally. The top 10 particularly becomes an instant dining bucket list for globetrotting food lovers.
Victorian restaurant Brae debuted at number 87. Photo: Julian Kingma
The magazine carves the world into 27 regions, and 36 judges - a mixture of chefs, food journalists, restaurateurs and "industry insiders" - are selected for each geographic zone. The 972 judges cast votes for the seven restaurants they consider to be the best in the world.
Academy chair of the Australian region, Pat Nourse, says every year the list yielded surprises but people could be confident that particularly the top 10 restaurants represented the best, most exciting dining options in the world.
By its own admission, the Restaurant list is "not definitive and the result of subjective opinions".
"But we believe it remains both credible and a positive force in the industry as a whole."
Restaurant also recognises that the results are influenced by "shifting culinary tastes" and the waxing and waning of the importance of geographic regions. Australian chefs have long felt their standing on the list suffers from a perceived "tyranny of distance" in that our restaurants are a long way off the judging circuits of the panel members.
So what does best mean?
Australia now has four restaurants on the official top 100 Best Restaurants list, with Sydney's Sepia making its debut on the list at 84th best restaurant and Brae, in the small Victorian town of Birregurra, sliding in at number 87 when the results for the ranking between 51-100 were revealed last week.
Sydney's Quay restaurant was also recognised, taking out the 58th spot - up from 60th last year but down on its 2013 result of 48.
For the Sepia team, entry onto the World's 50 Best list capped off a great month. The restaurant in Sydney's CBD was voted Australia's best by local chefs and restaurant owners at the Australian Financial Review Top 100 Restaurants awards last month, with chef and owner Martin Benn also named "best chef" by his peers.
Of Sepia scooping the One To Watch award, Terry Durack, chief restaurant critic for the SMH, said: "They are our hope for the future and because of them more Australian restaurants are set to follow their footsteps and give us a greater presence in the top 50 list."
Attica debuted on the World's 50 Best list in 2012, ranking 73. By 2012 it had soared to 21, and was the only Australian restaurant in the top 50, before sagging slightly last year to number 32.
Ardyn Bernoth travelled to London as a guest of S.Pellegrino.