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World’s No. 1 restaurant for 2024 crowned in Las Vegas

Updated June 6, 2024 - 7:05 pm

Disfrutar of Barcelona has been named the No. 1 restaurant on the planet, and the best restaurant in Europe, for 2024. The recognition came Wednesday evening at the awards ceremony for World’s 50 Best Restaurants at Wynn Las Vegas. The World’s 50 Best, based in London, celebrates global trends in food, drink, travel and other areas of hospitality.

This year, for the first time, the Best Restaurants ceremony was held in Vegas, confirming the city’s emergence as a global dining destination.

Rounding out the top five, in order, were Asador Etxebarri in Atxondo, Spain; Table by Bruno Verjus in Paris; Diverxo in Madrid; and Maido in Lima, Peru. Atomix, the superlative Korean restaurant from New York City, was the highest U.S. finisher, at No. 6.

‘Embracing the moment’

Events related to or honoring World’s 50 Best week took place at Wynn (the host property) and elsewhere in the days leading up to the ceremony.

For one of the 50 Best Signature Sessions, chef James Trees was joined on Monday at Esther’s Kitchen, his downtown restaurant, by chef Tomos Parry of Brat and Mountain restaurants in London. The chefs presented a lunch that stretched to four hours.

A Tuesday morning discussion at Wynn included Sarah Thompson, executive chef of Casa Playa at the property, and Virgilio Martinez, co-chef and owner of Central, in Lima. Central was the No. 1 restaurant in the world for 2023.

Thompson spoke of the excitement and opportunity of the week.

“It’s incredibly important to embrace the moment. These collaborations with the best chefs in the world really push things forward. These chefs are bringing their passions and inspirations to the restaurants and the city.”

Martinez, among other things, talked about his restaurant philosophy.

“At Central, we try to cook ideas, not recipes. We try to cook culture. Our main goal has always been being the best of restaurant Central that we can be.”

From animals to plants

Treasure Hunt: The Quest for Culinary Gold, a 50 Best Talk, also took place Tuesday, at Wynn. Gastronomic gold, according to the talk, ranges from transforming modest plant-based ingredients to resurrecting ancient cooking techniques, from helping overlooked culinary workers flourish to rethinking the traditional hierarchy of the restaurant to using every part of the fish (an oceanic snout-to-tail).

Among the eight chefs and restaurateurs taking the stage, there was chef Daniel Humm of New York City’s Eleven Madison Park, the first plant-based restaurant to receive three Michelin stars. He shared some of the challenges Eleven Madison Park faced when it reopened it June 2021 with a plant-centric menu, after having been famous for lobster and duck and foie gras.

“When we got into the kitchen, we definitely thought, ‘Oh, my God, where do we start? What are our new butters, our new milks? What are the stocks made of?’ Before we created our menu, we created our pantry.

“When (the plant-based menu) was announced, it became political. We got letters from meat suppliers: This will never work; when I need their meat again, they will never deliver to me. We got some very brutal reviews and write-ups. But if we stop changing, we stop being Eleven Madison Park.”

Using every part of the fish

At the Culinary Gold session, Josh Niland, chef-owner of Saint Peter in Sydney, who also is known as the “fish butcher,” talked about how 50 percent of a fish traditionally goes to waste in restaurants. At Saint Peter, “we’re using secondary cuts of fish, building out all the things you can do with fish. Too often, we only see fish as two fillets. How can we use the rest of the fish?”

One answer is to grill the head and collar. Another is to make “chips” from the eyes. “It’s a salty, crispy bite,” Niland said. “We asked people after the meal, ‘What did you think of the chips at the beginning?’ ‘Good. Good.’ We said, ‘It’s fish eye.’ That spurred the next lot of people to come into the restaurant.”

Ricotta cheese made from fish bladder was an experiment that tanked. “It was pretty gross,” Niland said. What the chef described as an ice cream sandwich was served to folks at the talk. The texture and flavor were similar to a gluten- and dairy-free version. Not bad but not distinctive.

But when Niland announced the cake was fashioned from fish bones and the filling from vitreous humor of fish eye, the ice cream sandwich became miraculous.

A global feast

Events for World’s 50 Best week continue for three days after the ceremony, including pop-ups and collaborations at the Indulge festival at Resorts World and the Icons Dinner, starring some of the world’s most celebrated chefs, that is part of the Revelry festival at Wynn.

The week concludes on Saturday with The Feast, the centerpiece of Revelry that unites four culinary spheres: Mediterranean cooking, coastal Mexican dishes, Tokyo street food, and wood-fire rotisserie and barbecue.

For the full list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2024, go to theworlds50best.com.

Contact Johnathan L. Wright at jwright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JLWTaste on Instagram.

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