On the 23rd and 24th of September, the city of Barcelona was the setting for a two-day event that was entirely dedicated to haute cuisine. After the brand new Food Meets Science symposium and Area Talks, the award gala at the University of Barcelona was the climax of this culinary event. In the presence of guests from all over the world, chef Björn Frantzén won The Best Chef Top100 Award powered by Barilla, followed by chef Joan Roca (winner of the two previous editions) in second and chef David Muñoz in third place.
‘Food Meets Science’: food x brain
At the Food Meets Science symposium, The Best Chef Awards presented an interdisciplinary project that consisted in an exchange between science and cooking with a view to shedding light on what is really happening in our brain when we eat and how our brain influences our food choice. Top-notch speakers from the world of science, like Prof. Charles Spence and Dr. Nicola Pirastu, and the world of gastronomy, like chef Vladimir Mukhin, chef Joan Roca and chef Davide Oldani, were invited. They talked about various topics like ‘Touching culinary science’, ‘Gastrophysics: the new science of eating’ and ‘Food preferences and genes: not just a matter of taste’.
“With the ‘everything else’ in gastrophysics, we mean that everything from the colour of the plate on which the food is served, through the weight of the cutlery that is used to consume it and the music that happens to be playing in the background, has a crucial influence on your tasting experience. For example, when you eat a plate of seafood while there are sea sounds playing in the background, the food will taste more intense and you’ll experience different emotions.”
– Prof. Charles Spence, Head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the Oxford University, UK –
“Research has been a way to explore new paths in order to bring emotions and memories to our guests, that’s our final goal.”
– Chef Joan Roca, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain –
‘Area Talks’: Food for Thought
Just like Food Meets Science, Area Talks was also new on the menu of The Best Chef Awards. Through discussions on current topics and testimonials from chefs and experts, Area Talks offered a unique behind-the-scenes view on the daily life in the world of gastronomy and shed light on the approach, the motives and the pitfalls that make these top chefs and experts who they are. With Area Talks, The Best Chef wanted to bring the community and the new generation of foodies and chefs closer together. Discussions on several topics showed that there’s much more to gastronomy than bringing the perfect flavour to the perfect plate.
“A while ago, we’ve decided to close our restaurant three days a week. It was not easy to make that decision and we were aware of the fact that there was a certain risk involved, but in the end, it turned out to be the best decision we’ve ever made. Now, the energy and commitment of our staff has increased a lot. We don’t work 90 hours a week anymore and therefore our people are less sick and the risk of burn-outs has reduced. In my opinion, we’ve created the perfect work-life balance for us and our employees.”
– Chef Christophe Hardiquest, Bon Bon in Brussels, Belgium –
The award gala: the climax
The award gala is a global event with chefs from all over the world, travelling from the United States, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and from all over Europe for the hottest culinary gala. For the third year in a row, The Best Chef Award was presented to honour the world’s best chef, as well as other awards in various categories.
The most prestigious awards went to familiar faces, as well as several newcomers:
– The Best Chef Top100 Award powered by Barilla winner: Björn Frantzén of restaurant Frantzén in Stockholm, Sweden. The second place is for Joan Roca (Spain), who won the award in 2017 and 2018, the third place goes to David Muñoz (Spain). Last year, Björn Frantzén took the fourth place after David Muñoz (third place), René Redzepi (second place) and Joan Roca (first place).
– The Best Chef City Gourmet Award winner: Disfrutar with Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch (Barcelona, Spain). This category award recognized the best chef and restaurant in the host city of the yearly award show.
– The Best Chef Rising Star Award winner: Pía León of restaurant Kjolle in Lima, Peru. This young chef wins this award as an appreciation for her talent and progress in the world of gastronomy.
– The Best Chef Fol-LOVERS Award winner: Grégoire Berger of restaurant Ossiano in Dubai. It is already the second year in a row for Grégoire Berger to win this award, that was introduced in 2018 to value the opinion of the audience of The Best Chef’s followers on social media.
– The Best Chef Pastry Award winner: Jordi Roca of restaurant El Cellar de Can Roca in Girona, Spain. This award celebrates the best pastry chef among all chefs.
– The Best Chef Food Art Award winner: Daniel Watkins of restaurant St Leonards in London, UK. This award is dedicated to the Best Artist among all chefs.
– The Best Chef New Entry Award winner: Disfrutar with Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch, in Barcelona, Spain. This category award honours the chef(s) who achieves the highest ranking amongst the new candidates.
– The Best Chef Voted by Chefs Award winner: Grant Achatz of restaurant Alinea in Chicago, USA. This award is dedicated to chef mostly voted by other chefs.
– The Best Chef Legend Award winner: Eckart Witzigmann. This category award celebrates the best chef who is not active in the kitchen as a chef anymore, but who still has a crucial impact on the world of gastronomy.
Awards from the heart of the gastronomic community
The Best Chef Awards, with its exclusive character, is highly influential in the culinary world thanks to their network of the world’s best chefs and social media influence. They currently boast over 1, 2 million followers who also contribute to the voting process. The chefs are awarded based on their skills and everything it represents to be The Best Chef. Therefore, the chefs are awarded as an individual and not by restaurant. To award a chef’s accomplishments, inspiring new talent and getting new talent recognized by their peers igniting creativity all over the world with their followers or “fol-LOVERS” as The Best Chef like to say, is the mission of The Best Chef.
The full ranking of The Best Chef Awards 2019 is available via www.thebestchefawards.com.
Text: Carline Roggeman
Photos: The Best Chef