Singapore (CNN) — There’s a new world’s best restaurant — and it isn’t the one that many were expecting.
Mediterranean venue Mirazur has taken the No. 1 spot at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in Singapore — an event considered the Oscars of the fine dining world.
Run by Argentinian-Italian chef Mauro Colagreco, Mirazur is located in Menton, France, close to the Italian border. The victory adds to a remarkable year that began with Mirazur being awarded its third Michelin star.
Colagreco and his team took to the stage at Marina Bay Sands with a banner stitched from the flags of the nations that have shaped them: France, Argentina, Italy and Brazil.
France “allows me to express myself,” Colagreco told the crowd, but “cuisine is able to cross all kinds of borders.”
Later, after reflecting a bit on the honor, Colagreco, in a post-awards press conference, said “It’s incredible, I don’t have words to explain – it’s something so special, all the work, all the love of my team to achieve this award is something so special for us for me and Julia [his wife].”
Best of the Best
A new rule introduced this year rendered previous winners of the top award from being eligible for the list, so the one guarantee of the evening was that there would be a new star at the top of the pile.
The fundamental change excluded New York’s Eleven Madison Park, The French Laundry in California, The Fat Duck near London and last year’s winner, Osteria Francescana from Modena in Italy. These restaurants will instead enter a ‘Best of the Best’ program.
The Best of the Best program is still being developed, but William Drew, group editor of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, explained the platform as allowing the 50 Best “to embrace the projects that they are passionate about.”
The idea, according to Drew, is to “make positive changes in the food world as a whole. We want to use 50 Best Talks, our various platforms and content programs across digital channels to highlight those initiatives and positive changes.”
Daniel Humm, chef at New York’s Eleven Madison Park, told CNN they didn’t mind the new rule. “It’s much more important to have amazing chefs to be involved and that is good for everyone and I think everyone wants that. It can’t be our moment forever, and we are happy to not compete every single year,” Humm said.
Close, but no Noma
The hotly tipped Noma, eligible for the top spot due to its new Copenhagen location, only made it to second place despite the buzz around what is perhaps the world’s most famous restaurant.
Western Europe ruled the podium, with Spanish restaurant Asador Etxebarri — where all dishes, even dessert, are flame-grilled — taking third place.
Live well in Lima
Diners who can’t get a table at Noma can always try its Copenhagen neighbor Geranium, in fifth place, where head chef Rasmus Kofoed serves an adventurous tasting menu with standout dishes including beeswax and pollen ice cream with rhubarb.
The Peruvian capital of Lima had two restaurants in the top 10: chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León’s Central, where you can dine on piranha served inside a tooth-filled piranha head, and Maido, whose deal is Japanese-Peruvian fusion, with a highlight being the 50-hours-cooked beef short rib.
In spite of Lima’s lauded restaurants and other spots from Mexico City to Singapore making the list, no restaurant outside Europe or North America has ever won the World’s 50 Best prize.
Since the competition’s inception in 2002, all 17 winners have come from Spain, the United States, the UK, Denmark, Italy — and now France.
Spain’s showing this year was solid with Mugaritz and Disfrutar at number seven and number nine respectively, with Barcelona’s Disfrutar making a remarkable rise, having been 2018’s highest new entry.
Best Female Chef
Mexican-born Daniela Soto-Innes was named World’s Best Female Chef — an award that regularly attracts controversy as some see it celebrating the inequality that the event’s organizers say it helps address. In her speech she addressed the often aggressive culture that persists in kitchens around the world, saying.
“I decided that if I ever ran my own kitchen it would be more like the kitchens I grew up in: full of joy, happiness and community,” she said.
“As a Mexican woman leading a diverse team, I believe with every day, every meal, every guest, we can fight against the ignorance and prejudice which tells us our voices shouldn’t be heard […] Not only does our happiness matter, but we can spread it.”
Soto-Ines’s Manhattan restaurant Cosme was named 28th best in the world.
Jessica Préalpato was named World’s Best Pastry Chef. Her treats can be sampled at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée in that capital of patisserie, Paris.
Spanish-American chef José Andrés won the Icon Award, in recognition of his work as founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit dedicated to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters.
In his speech, he said that “we need to be honoring not only the men who seem to be getting the most credit,” but also the women who are “really feeding the world […] every single day in every city.”
Alain Passard, head chef of Paris restaurant Arpege, took home the Chefs’ Choice Award — voted for by his peers — while his restaurant was named eighth best in the world.
Julien Royer’s restaurant Odette, housed in Singapore’s National Gallery, got loud cheers from the home crowd when it was awarded 18th position. This was the first time the awards had been held in Asia. This year was also the first to ensure gender balance in the panel of more than 1,000 restaurant industry experts.
Tokyo’s Den won the Art of Hospitality Award, while modern Italian restaurant Lido 84, in the majestic setting of Italy’s Lake Garda, was named 2019’s One to Watch.
The world’s 50 best restaurants
Chris Dwyer contributed additional reporting to this story.