World's 50 Best Restaurants for 2018

 cookbook collage

The 2018 list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants was just published. Unfortunately for Dominique Crenn, the prediction that her restaurant would be among this select group did not come true, as Atelier Crenn was shut out of the rankings entirely after debuting at number 83 last year. Last year's number one restaurant, Daniel Humm and Will Guidara's Eleven Madison Park, fell three places to number four. The 2016 winner, Osteria Francescana, led by chef Massimo Bottura, regained its place at the top of the rankings.

Spain's El Celler de Can Roca gained one place to land in second place (the same place it too occupied in 2016), while Mirazur, located in Menton, France, nabbed the third spot. Rounding out the top five were Gaggan (Bangkok, Thailand) and Central (Lima, Peru). The number of female chefs (or co-chefs) on the list increased from three in 2017 to five today: Central by Pia León and Virgilio Martínez, Arzak by Elena and Juan Mari Arzak, Hiša Franko by Ana Ros, Cosme by Daniela Soto-Innes and Enrique Olvera, and Nahm by Pim Techamuanvivit (one caveat: Techamuanvivit assumed the top chef job earlier this year, presumably after the voting ended).

Many restaurants on the list will be familiar to EYB Members from the cookbooks of the chefs who lead the eateries. A large number of those titles are published under the Phaidon imprint. Remember that EYB Members receive a 30 percent discount on books from Phaidon; visit the special EYB page to receive these great savings. 

Several of the stunning Phaidon cookbooks from top 50 chefs on this year's and previous lists are indexed, including El Celler de Can Roca by Juan Roca, Central by Virgilio Martinez and Nicholas Gill, Mexico from the Inside Out by Enrique Olvera, D.O.M. by Alex Atala, Mugaritz by Andoni Luiz Aduriz, Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef by Massimo Bottura, Fäviken by Magnus Nilsson, Coi by Daniel Patterson, and Peru: the Cookbook by Gastón Acurio

Non-Phaidon published books indexed on EYB include Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, Alinea by Grant Achatz, Origin by Ben Shewry of restaurant Attica in Australia, and several books by Alain Passard of Arpège in France and Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin in New York. Boragó: Coming from the South by Rodolfo Guzman, is currently being indexed. An English translation of Etxebarri by Jon Sarabia, representing the grill cookery of the number 10 restaurant Asador Extebarri, is expected this fall. 

World's 50 Best Restaurants to be announced next week, 51-100 out now

Dominique CrennNext week the annual list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants will be unveiled. This week we got to learn about the runners-up, the restaurants ranked from 51-100. The list contains restaurants on the move, either new restaurants working their way up the rankings, or older establishments formerly in the top 50 that have since lost their luster. 

One restaurant in the 51-100 rankings last year is notably absent this year, and as Eater explains, that could mean very good news for its chef, Dominique Crenn. Atelier Crenn debuted on the list last year, in the number 83 position. Since it is rare that a restaurant would completely fall out of the rankings after only a year on the list, all signs point to Atelier Crenn's inclusion among the top 50. 

This is notable because a restaurant helmed exclusively by a woman has never before broke into this upper echelon (three restaurants that were run by a team including a woman have made it there). Many industry professionals, including Crenn. have blasted the organization that assembles the rankings for its bias toward restaurants owned and run by (mostly white) males.

Other interesting news from the list includes the fact that Noma won't be on the list at all this year (it was closed for its move and did not open in time to be considered for the 2018 rankings). One of the biggest debuts this year was Enigma, the Barcelona tasting-menu spot by Albert Adria. It enters the list at 95, making it a long way to go to achieve the top spot which was frequently occupied by El Bulli, where Adria worked alongside his brother, Ferran.

Gabrielle Hamilton plans to run The Spotted Pig

Gabrielle HamiltonSay what you will about the New York restaurant scene, but you will never make the argument that it is boring. Today's surprise food news out of NYC comes from Prune owner Gabrielle Hamilton, who announced that she is going to partner with Ken Friedman to become co-owner of The Spotted Pig

Hamilton said that she and her wife, Ashley Merriman, plan to be chefs and co-owners of the restaurant, alongside Friedman. "We don't have a deal, but we're going to make one," she said. "We're going to be chef-owners. We're going to run the Pig." Friedman has not provided any comment as of this afternoon. 

The announcement came as a shock to industry insiders, who did not believe that such a prominent female chef would work with Friedman. His former partner, April Bloomfield, recently declared that she had ended their business relationship. Some people believe Hamilton's plans show disregard for Friedman's bad behavior, which includes several allegations of sexual assault. 

Others think that Hamilton is the right person to turn around the beleaguered restaurant. The chef herself thinks that is the case: "Everyone gets so excited when José Andrés goes into these natural disasters and helps people," she said. "They ought to be happy that these two women are going into a man-made disaster to help make things right." 

Ruby Tandoh quits food column due to "toxic" food culture

Ruby Tandoh cookbookAs a contestant and finalist on Great British Bake Off at age 20, Ruby Tandoh impressed the judges and the fans watching the show alike. She is the author of three well-regarded books, and began writing a weekly food column for The Guardian. She surprised fans last week by announcing in a series of tweets that she was quitting her Guardian recipe column.

In her tweets, Tandoh explained that she was leaving due to a "toxic and elitist" food culture. "There are some decent people in that world - people trying to make a difference and bring some joy and compassion to our food culture," she said, "but the stuff that makes the headlines again and again is toxic and elitist and supported by truly rotten foundations."

Tandoh felt that her efforts to promote healthy eating were futile, and that there were too few food writers with a positive message. She hasn't ruled out writing again in the future, saying "maybe sometimes I'll write stuff, maybe I won't! Either way, I'm done trying to fight a mouldy system from within."

There haven't been any follow-up tweets (Tandoh's two posts following her announcement were both tributes to Anthony Bourdain), so we don't know what her future plans may include. Fans will just have to stay tuned to her social media feeds to see what's next. 

Anthony Bourdain has died at age 61

Kitchen ConfidentialThe culinary world is reeling this morning after reports that chef, author, and television star Anthony Bourdain has died of an apparent suicide. Bourdain, 61, was in Paris filming an episode of his CNN television series 'Parts Unknown'. In a statement, CNN said "It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain. His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time."

Bourdain rocketed to stardom following his first article in the New Yorker which led to the publication of his tell-all memoir Kitchen Confidential. The book, along with the rise of TV shows glamorizing chefdom, helped lead to a renewed interest in the profession. 'Kitchen Confidential' also foreshadowed some of the industry's problems like substance abuse and sexism in the workplace. 

Through his pioneering television shows, which have aired for nearly 15 years on different networks, the former chef introduced people to new cultures and expanded their culinary horizons. His work led to several awards, including a Peabody Award in 2013 for 'Parts Unknown'. Recently Bourdain became an outspoken advocate for women in the #metoo movement. 

The star had battled several demons in his life, including substance abuse and depression. His death, along with other recent high profile suicides, shows that mental health issues affect everyone regardless of success or financial status.  If you, or anyone you know, is suffering from depression, please know that there are people who can help. Following is a list of free resources available to anyone who needs help:

  • In the United States, the National  Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • In the UK, visit www.samaritans.org to find a list of help lines
  • In Canada, visit suicideprevention.ca for an up-to-date list of Distress Lines across Canada by province and territory
  • In Australia, visit the website Lifeline or call 13 11 14. They also offer a online chat service
  • In New Zealand, Lifeline Aotearoa provides free 24-hour counseling and phone help lines. Call 09 5222 999 if you live within Auckland or 0800 543 354 for those outside of Auckland

Disney is launching an online food channel

Chef MickeyAt its annual presentation to advertisers of upcoming new video content, the Walt Disney Company announced that it was creating a new online channel and editorial site dedicated to food. The digital brand, called Disney Eats, will host culinary shows and products aimed at families.

The content, much of which was created in a partnership with global entertainment company  Tastemade, includes shows like "Kitchen Little," which features children working with celebrity chefs; "Tiny Kitchen," where chefs create small replicas of Disney food; and a kitchen science program. The shows will focus on "co-cooking" experiences, or parents and children cooking together. 

Disney hopes to draw in a new generation of viewers by pitching the shows at their parents, who grew up watching YouTube videos and are now looking for suitable content for their children. Naturally, there will be product tie-ins to the shows, with branded products, like kitchen utensils and bakeware, as well as cookbooks. While the online food channel may be new, Disney is no stranger to cookbook publishings; the EYB Library contains dozens of Disney-themed books

Ina Garten announces new cookbook

Cook Like a ProWe've just received good news for Ina Garten fans - the Barefoot Contessa announced that she has a new cookbook coming out this fall. Named after Garten's latest program, Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks is set to hit store shelves this October. You can preorder it now through Amazon

In her new book, the popular television host shares some of her very best "pro tips," from the secret to making her custardy, slow-cooked Truffled Scrambled Eggs to the key to the crispiest and juiciest Fried Chicken Sandwiches. For Garten, cooking like a pro also means hosting like one. Throughout the book you'll find great ideas to boost your entertaining skills such as how to set up an elegant home bar and how to make showstopper desserts ahead of time so you can spend more time with your guests. 

Cook Like a Pro is already a #1 bestseller on Amazon, which comes as no surprise. Judging by the popularity of Garten's other books in the EYB Library, this one is likely to be another blockbuster with our Members. Books like Barefoot Contessa Foolproof and Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? have earned 4.5 star ratings and reside on thousands of our Members' bookshelves. As the release date approaches, we will have more information about the book to share with you. 

Are pancakes set to be the next big food trend?

 pancakes

Pancakes are easy to love, because they offer an excuse to eat cake as the main part of a meal. Although they never really went out of style, pancakes are currently enjoying a moment in the spotlight, says Eater's Meghan McCarron, who spies an increase in pancakes on restaurant menus across the US. 

Instagram and other social media seem to be driving this phenomenon, as gleaming photos featuring stacks of hotcakes, griddle cakes, and Dutch babies proliferate. This creates cravings which can only be filled with steaming hot cakes topped with a dizzying array of syrups, fruits, and even vegetables and sweets. This demand creates special offerings on menus and even entire restaurants dedicated to pancakes and their kin. 

McCarron views this less as a trend than as a fetish. The difference, she says, is that trends are "kind of boring" if you aren't involved in the restaurant world while a fetish "commands the attention of a much larger portion of the discourse, including people with somewhat sane relationships to food." A fetish also contains a bundle of emotional appeal, which fits nicely with the comfort food factor of pancakes.

The downside of being a food fetish can mean overpriced fare and increasingly outlandish ingredients or preparations, says McCarron. However, she thinks pancakes can stand up to the pressures of Instagram and remain popular despite some mistreatment at the hands of chefs seeking a moment in the spotlight alongside their creations. 

Photo of  Ricotta pancakes with sour cherries, clotted cream and honey from The Guardian Feast supplement by Sabrina Ghayour

Christopher Kimball's Kuhn Rikon Durotherm Casserole at Sur la Table

Christopher Kimball's new line at Sur la Table hit the shelves last month and I am loving the items I have tried so far. Be sure you read more about these quality products and enter our giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street: The New Home Cooking, a  Traverse Power Whisk, and a $50.00 Sur la Table gift card! 

Today, I am back to tell you about the Kuhn Rikon Durotherm Casserole. It was the first piece that caught my eye and particiularly this sentence: "Revolutionary DUROTHERM double-wall construction saves up to 60% energy by requiring less heat and cooking time, and keeps food hot for up to two hours for stress-free cooking - no need to reheat." 

As I stated in my original post, one of the issues that causes me anxiety when entertaining is keeping a meal hot while waiting for others to get to the table. This piece lessens that worry considerably. I am resharing this from the Sur la Table website:

"This state-of-the-art casserole comes with interior quart markings for precise measurements, a removable heat-retaining base that protects our surfaces, two ergonomic side handles for easy transport, and delicious recipes to take full advantage of the cookware. The double-wall insulated stainless steel pan and lid lock in vitamins, minerals and flavor by circulating moisture to the middle of the pan. Meals will cook consistently thanks to the even browning and rapid heat absorption of the Superthermic solid aluminum sandwich base."

 

I always judge a pot by its weight. Quality, sturdy pots with some heft are my preference. This product passed that test. My second requirement is style - it has to look good. This one is a beauty so much so I really didn't want to break it in. I wanted to preserve that new shiny pot look. But I caved and have used it twice now. 

For Easter this year I made my stove-top macaroni and cheese in this beauty. Before I talk about that I want to point out a few things. Read the instructions before beginning - specifically as the pot is double-walled there is no need to cook on high heat. You are able to obtain the same results at a medium temperature. But most importantly remember to take the base off before using. The latter tip seems obvious but if you have a lot of balls in the air, it might slip your mind as the trivet base locks in well and you may forget to twist it off. 

The water boiled quickly at medium temperature and I cooked my pasta. After draining the pasta, I started my cheese sauce and pulled everything together. I used the Traverse Power Whisk to make my bechamel. It does get into those corners better and made quick work of the sauce (and it looks great too).

About 3 p.m. the macaroni and cheese was finished and piping hot. At 4:30 p.m. we sat down for dinner and I am happy to say the mac and cheese was very warm - almost hot. I had left the pot on the stovetop as I finished the rest of the dinner preparation so that may have contributed to it staying so hot. Today, I used the pot to make Marcella's Tomato sauce with onion and butter - it has been slowly simmering all day. 

This is an incredible piece of cookware - for performance, style, stove to table serving - it hits all the marks. The Kuhn Rikon Durotherm Casserole would make the ideal gift for a wedding shower, busy family who needs that extra assurance that dinner remains warm and waiting and for someone who entertains - potlucks, game day parties and the like will all be easier with this vessel.

I am using the gorgeous photos from Sur la Table on this post because while I wanted to take photographs on Easter - our guest showed up over an hour early and threw me off my game. I should add that the pot cleans up perfectly and comes with a Swiss cleaner but I used plain dish soap and dried it well.

 

Thanks to Sur la Table for providing me with a sample of the Kuhn Rikon Durotherm Casserole for review and to Kuhn Rikon for sending me the Traverse Power Whisk. I have my eye on the Christopher Kimball pop-up steamer/colander with the adorable bow ties for Mother's Day. 

A conundrum for food critics (and cookbook lovers)

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In response to the numerous chefs and restaurateurs who stand accused of sexual abuse and harassment, food critics have been reassessing their role in perpetuating the problem. Critics are struggling to balance the damage an omission can have on the lives of a restaurant's staff versus the damage wrought by praising the dining room of someone who has mistreated his (and less frequently, her) staff. Four food writers for The San Francisco Chronicle are currently grappling with this conundrum as they prepare their annual listing of best restaurants in the Bay area. Each of the four has written an essay explaining his or her thoughts on the matter.

For Esther Mobley, context matters. She notes that readers look to critics to provide more information than just whether the food tastes good; they want to know about the atmosphere, the service, and additional details such as the provenance of the food itself. "If we draw attention to the fact that a business is locally owned, uses fair-trade products or favors organic produce, we have no excuse for not drawing attention to how the business treats its workers," she notes.

Michael Bauer, on the other hand, feels that passing over a restaurant because of the accusations against a chef or owner does a disservice to the many employees who toil to provide excellent service and quality food. Why should employees be punished for their bosses' sins, he asks. "When I wear my critic's hat I'm not evaluating what happens behind the kitchen door. I'm writing about what comes out that door," states Bauer.

As I read the article, my thoughts turned to the cookbooks written by chefs who have since become embroiled in scandal. If a story of abuse or harassment implicates a chef whose work I admire - and whose cookbook I own - does the chef deserve my continued support? Would I hesitate to use a recipe from Mario Batali, for example, because of the accusations of unwanted sexual advances leveled against him? Do I give away the cookbooks that bear his name because I do not support his actions? Would it make a difference if I knew any of the people he has harmed?

Another question to ponder is the possibility of redemption. Speaking of Batali, Kim Severson of The New York Times reports that the chef has quietly started asking industry experts how he can return to the profession he loves, and if such a return is even possible. Opinions diverge on whether he should attempt such a comeback, regardless of the sincerity of his apology and attempts to improve his behavior. The answers will not come easy, and we will be contending with these issues for some time to come.

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