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Noma wins top prize at San Pellegrino World's Best Restaurants awards

Story highlights

  • San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards seen as Oscars of fine dining industry
  • Noma returns to top place, knocking last year's winner, Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, into second
  • Awards are now viewed by some as more influential than coveted Michelin stars

Get dialing for your reservation now: Noma in Copenhagen has been named the world's best restaurant at a ceremony revealing the planet's top 50 dining venues.

To raucous cheers, high fives, hugs and kisses, team Noma took to the stage in a packed London venue in jubilant scenes that wouldn't be out of place at the World Cup in Brazil later this year.

Noma's top honor in the prestigious San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards -- viewed as the Oscars of fine dining -- was the fourth win for minimalist Danish pioneer of foraged menus.

The award was presented late Monday at a ceremony in central London attended by some of the world's leading chefs.

"It's too (expletive deleted) crazy!" said Noma's head chef, Rene Redzepi, picking up the award. "Thank you for believing in us.

"In the last year (after the restaurant was awarded second place) my staff and I looked into each others' eyes and said 'let's just really really work hard.' We made a plan and said 'let's make this the best year we've ever had.'"

    "But to have this is a whole surprise, none of us expected it."

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    The list, now in its 12th year, is dominated by European venues, but there were prizes for restaurants from around the world, including Asia's first top 20 entry.

    The biggest climber was Lima, Peru, restaurant Central, which jumped from No. 50 last year to No. 15 this year.

    The highest debut entry was Gaggan from Bangkok, which came in at No. 17.

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    Highly influential

    There were few changes in the list's top 10.

    Last year's winner, Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, was bumped to second place, with Italy's Osteria Francescana holding steady at number three.

    Despite the repeat victory for Noma, it's still yet to match the record of Spain's El Bulli, which claimed four successive wins before head chef Ferran Adria closed its doors in 2011.

    Eleven Madison Park: The highest ranked U.S. restaurant

    Other winners in the top 10 were, in fourth place New York's Eleven Madison Park, followed by Spain's Mugaritz, Brazil's D.O.M., London's Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Spain's Arzak, Chicago's Alinea and The Ledbury, another London restaurant.

    Noma, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, was praised for its "fresh approach and energy."

    The restaurant's menu serves diners with a series of "snacks" largely sourced from the Nordic landscape -- dishes that include sea urchin toast and a beef tartar that includes ants.

    Most of the winners -- a total of 28 -- were from Europe, with Spain claiming seven top 50 positions.

    Nahm, a Thai restaurant in Bangkok that earlier this year was named Asia's best, made it to number 13 in the list -- the region's highest entry.

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    Organized by UK-based Restaurant Magazine and sponsored by Italian drinks manufacturers San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, the awards are seen as highly influential in the fine dining industry.

    Noma's first win in 2010 is credited with catapulting the restaurant to international stardom.

    Reputedly, the day after winning, it received enough online reservations to fill its 45 seats for a decade -- thankfully, it only takes bookings for a few weeks in advance.

    Some observers say the awards now hold greater sway over a restaurant's financial success and bookings than coveted Michelin star rankings, often transforming them into major travel destinations.

    'Beauty contest'

    "This is the big one," contest chairman Richard Vines told CNN ahead of the awards. "Although you can argue about the list, everyone wants to be on it."

    MORE: Great Copenhagen restaurants not named Noma

    Vines said the list isn't a rival to Michelin's "systematic" assessments, describing it as a spontaneous "beauty contest for restaurants."

    Arzak, one of seven Spanish top 10 winners.

    The list was decided by votes compiled from 900 restaurant industry figures.

    The winning names were closely guarded ahead of this year's ceremony after details were leaked prior to announcement in 2013.

    British chef Fergus Henderson received a lifetime achievement award at this year's event.

    Henderson's St. John restaurant in London has championed "nose-to-tail" eating that utilizes every part of an animal.

    San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants for 2014

    1. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark

    2. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain

    3. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy

    4. Eleven Madison Park, New York

    5. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London

    6. Mugartiz, San Sebastian, Spain

    7. D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil

    8. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain

    9. Alinea, Chicago

    El Celler de Can Roca was bumped into second place.

    10. The Ledbury, London

    11. Mirazur, Menton, France

    12. Vendome, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany

    13. Nahm, Bangkok

    14. Narisawa, Tokyo

    15. Central, Lima, Peru

    16. Steirereck, Vienna

    17. Gaggan, Bangkok

    18. Astrid y Gaston, Lima, Peru

    19. Fäviken, Järpen, Sweden

    20. Pujol, Mexico City

    21. Le Bernardin, New York

    22. Vila Joya, Albufeira, Portugal

    23. Restaurant Frantzén, Stockholm

    24. Amber, Hong Kong

    25. L'Arpege, Paris

    26. Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain

    27. Le Chateaubriand, Paris

    28. Aqua, Wolfsburg, Germany

    29. De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands

    30. Per Se, New York

    31. L'Atelier Saint-Germain de Joel Robuchon, Paris

    32. Attica, Melbourne, Australia

    33. Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo

    34. Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain

    35. Martin Berasategui, Lasarte-Oria, Spain

    36. Maní, Sao Paulo, Brazil

    37. Restaurant Andre, Singapore

    38. L'Astrance, Paris

    39. Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy

    40. Daniel, New York

    41. Quique Dacosta, Dénia, Spain

    42. Geranium, Copenhagen, Denmark

    43. Schloss Schauenstein, Fürstenau, Switzerland

    44. French Laundry, Yountville, California

    45. Hof Van Cleeve, Kruishoutem, Belgium

    46. Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy

    47. The Fat Duck, Bray, UK

    48. The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa

    49. Coi, San Francisco

    50. Waku Ghin, Singapore

    One to Watch Restaurant: Saison, San Francisco

    Best Restaurant in Africa: The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa

    World's Pastry Chef: Jordi Roca, El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain

    Sustainable Restaurant Award: Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain

    Best Restaurant in Australasia: Attica, Melbourne, Australia

    World's Best Female Chef: Helena Rizzo, Mani, Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Chef's Choice Award: Alex Atala, D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Highest Climber: Central, Lima, Peru

    Highest New Entry: Gaggan, Bangkok

    Best Restaurant in Asia: Nahm, Bangkok

    Lifetime Achievement Award: Fergus Henderson, St. John, London

    Best Restaurant in South America: D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Best Restaurant in North America: Eleven Madison Park, New York

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