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Blumenthal Recieves Accolade While Ramsey Falls From Grace

Blumenthal Recieves Accolade While Ramsey Falls From Grace

El Bulli in Spain was "Restaurant" magazine's top choice this year (photo by Creative Commons user FotoosVanRobin)

Martin Hickman | The Indendant

However, the judging – which also ranked the next 50 runners up – was conducted before the Fat Duck was hit by its mystery illness. On 24 February, Blumenthal shut the restaurant after up to 40 customers called in saying they had been taken ill with vomiting, diarrhoea and flu-like symptoms. The number of diners reporting illnesses eventually reached 529.

In what was generally a poor night for British cooking, four UK restaurants made the top 50, down from six last year and 10 fewer than the 14 recorded in 2005. Fergus Henderson’s “nose to tail” offal eaterie St John, in Smithfield, east London, was the only British restaurant to rise in the rankings, nudging up two places to 14th. London’s two famous oriental restaurants slipped places, with the Japanese eaterie Nobu down four places to 34, and Hakkasan, a Chinese, down 17 places to 36.

Although tempered by the ranking of his protege Jason Atherton’s Maze, which placed at 92, Ramsay’s disappointment is unlikely to have been eased by the news that the restaurant of another former pupil, Marcus Wareing, with whom he has spectacularly fallen out, came 52nd. The judges tipped Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley Hotel in central London to break into the top 50 next year.

Le Gavroche, the timeless temple to French gastronomy in Mayfair, fell from number 22 to 58. The River Cafe came 71st. Elsewhere on the list, the highly regarded Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, run by the youthful chef Rene Redzepi, continued its ascent, rising four places to third.

Overall, France and the US had the most restaurants in the top 50 with eight each. Italy had six and Spain five.

Blumenthal’s Fat Duck was named the world’s best in 2005, with his friend and rival Ferran Adria’s El Bulli in Girona, Catalonia, taking second place. The roles were reversed in 2006 and have remained the same since. However, retaining second spot is likely to be a welcome relief for the 42-year-old chef amid one of the largest restaurant health inquiries in decades.

The Fat Duck reopened last month after a 15 day closure, but the HPA later criticised the restaurant for allowing staff to work before they were free from the highly contagious norovirus.

For Blumenthal the illness could not have come at a worse time, as his new Channel 4 series on historic feasts and a kitchen gadget competition for the dishwasher tablet firm Finish were about to begin. Although the illness has cost him at least £100,000, it has failed to damage his culinary reputation or, so far, bookings at the Fat Duck. The restaurant received a perfect 10 out of 10 in this year’s Good Food Guide, which is booking two months’ in advance.

For the top 30 venues in “Restaurant” Magazine, go to the next page >>