André Chiang brings philosophical food to life

‘Octaphilosophy’ might sound like something dreamt up for an underwater sci-fi movie but it is, in fact, a well-considered approach to cooking undertaken by forward-thinking chef André Chiang.
Art and philosophy are guiding principles for Taiwan-born, French-trained Chiang. Octaphilosophy is his way of describing the key characteristics of his gastronomy: Unique, Texture, Memory, Pure, Terroir, Salt, South, and Artisan. Through his dishes Chiang explores the role these characteristics play in his food, and in gastronomy as a whole, whether it be grilled Taiwanese baby corn for Artisan; lobster, potato gnocchi and caviar for Texture; or foie gras jelly with truffles for Memory. Each dish could equally come under the name ‘simple’, with none containing more than a handful of ingredients in order not to drown each other out. But the cooking is also highly nuanced and champions food in unfamiliar formats and textures; the work of a chef at the very top of his game.

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Can’t leave this one out. A fellow Successful Belgian.

Belgian’s food champion continues to inspire

Chef Peter Goossens has been flying the flag for Belgian fine dining for more than 25 years at his beautiful farmhouse set among the fields of Flanders. The rustic exterior belies the sleek elegance of the dining rooms within, which are adorned with modern art by some of the country’s leading painters and hand-made Belgian glassware, furniture and crockery.

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Switzerland’s star chef holds court in a breathtaking location

An 18th century castle in the Swiss Alps is the fairytale setting for one of Europe’s most enchanting restaurants, where diners are taken on ‘a journey of the senses’. Suave chef-patron Andreas Caminada weaves culinary magic behind the stove, creating perfectly balanced dishes that explore aromas, textures and flavours with great aplomb.

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Even as the upper echelons of the restaurant industry lean further towards the rediscovery and celebration of the land and culinary heritage, few can match the fundamental connection with nature evident at Attica. The menu at the Melbourne restaurant, overseen by New Zealander Ben Shewry, is studded with earthy flavours and foraged ingredients, while the dining experience is simultaneously sophisticated and deeply grounded.

A deep connection with nature characterises Ben Shewry’s unusual food

Earnest but warm and open, Shewry has gained the respect of his peers for his deep dedication to his principles of sustainability, to his family and to the cooking craft – reflected in his Highest New Entry debut in last year’s list. His cuisine remains uniquely imaginative and original, with dishes often referencing the landscape and memories of his childhood on the wild west coast of NZ’s North Island. King George whiting, topped with meat-infused butter, is cooked in smoking paper bark; potato is cooked ‘in the earth in which it is grown’; snow crab comes with 12 flavours of St Joseph’s Wort (aka sweet basil). Diners at this 50-cover restaurant in the quiet suburb of Ripponlea sometimes even step out into the kitchen garden for a between-courses alfresco snack.

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Back on the list after a year’s break, Jonnie Boer’s Zwolle restaurant is a stone’s throw from where he hunted and fished as a child. He knows his produce intimately and is keen to showcase it, having built a career out of championing local seasonal ingredients about two decades before it was fashionable to do so. His current menu is homage to the food produced in the surrounding area but there’s certainly room for global influences – monkfish comes encrusted with Middle Eastern baharat spices and mackerel belly paired unusually but successfully with cinnamon. Indeed, Boer is big on doing things differently: for example, he eschews the traditional citrus marinade for his take on ceviche and replaces it with tea, kombucha (a type of yeast) and vanilla. Later on, a combination of basil mayonnaise, tartare of beef and cream of oyster is served directly on to diners’ hands for a memorably tactile experience.

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Number 30: Understated luxury coupled with outstanding contemporary French cooking in NYC

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Per Se has featured in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for its entire life. The East Coast satellite of Thomas Keller’s iconic French Laundry in Yountville, California, it represents the urban ideal of an American luxury restaurant offering a synthesis of culinary art and superlative service.

Per Se’s large dining room is unflashy, contemporary and elegant, with stained woods, stone and muted tones, and sweeping windows offering uninterrupted views of Columbus Circle and Central Park. The food is as understated yet immaculate as the décor. Menus embrace seasonality and show a witty playfulness that punctuates the confidence in the kitchen, now under the matured stewardship of Eli Kaimeh, who has been Per Se’s chef de cuisine since 2010.

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No.24 Amber – HONG KONG, CHINA

The acclaimed Amber can be found in The Landmark, Mandarin Oriental’s smaller more individual Hong Kong hotel, and the stunning restaurant reflects that sense of independence combined with luxury.

Dutch-born chef and culinary director Richard Ekkebus’s food is fundamentally French, but also modern, imaginative and tinged with influences he has picked up over his globe-trotting career. Having trained and worked in Holland, France, Mauritius and Barbados through his career – including stints under iconic French chefs Pierre Gagnaire and Alain Passard – he has been at Amber’s helm since its opening in 2005. Ekkebus and his chef de cuisine Maxime Gilbert source the finest ingredients from near and far, successfully playing on Hong Kong’s position as an east-west crossroads, as a trading hub and a former British colony. Signatures include sea urchin in lobster jelly, with cauliflower, caviar and crispy seaweed waffle; Kagoshima wagyu beef with purée of forgotten Cévennes onion; and abinao 85% chocolate soufflé with cacao sorbet.

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Accomplished Austrian chef puts Portugal on the fine-dining map

The restaurant at this luxury spa and beach resort on the Algarve truly is a ‘house of joy’ thanks to the culinary talents of executive chef Dieter Koschina. Originally from Austria, he honed his skills in leading establishments in Vienna and Germany before settling in his adopted country of Portugal more than two decades ago. These countries’ contrasting food cultures continue to inspire Koschina with fabulous Portuguese produce combined with northern European cooking techniques to create truly original and delicious dishes.

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Elegance and refinement result in sublime seafood dishes

Widely considered one of the top seafood restaurants in the world, Le Bernardin has been perfecting its sophisticated and refined food offer under the guidance of chef Eric Ripert for 20 years. Yet the restaurant continues to move forward by constantly evolving its menus.

With a focus on freshness, sourcing and subtle textures and flavours, dishes are exquisitely delicate in their execution and presentation. Drawing inspiration from its New York surroundings as well as French cooking techniques and international flavours, Le Bernardin pays homage to its ingredients themselves, with a graceful simplicity at the heart of the cooking, enhancing and elevating the fish.
At Le Bernardin the menu is split into Almost Raw, Barely Touched and Lightly Cooked sections, while two distinct tasting menus offer a balanced showcase of Ripert’s refined culinary style. Barely cooked scallop is simply paired with brown butter dashi; sautéed langoustine comes with truffle, chanterelle, and aged balsamic vinaigrette; and Ripert’s signature dish of layers of thinly pounded yellowfin tuna, foie gras and toasted baguette with chives and extra virgin olive oil continues to delight with its immaculate attention to detail.

Polished service and a superlative wine list overseen by chief sommelier Aldo Sohm underline Le Bernardin’s status as a world-class restaurant of the highest order. The dining room also exudes style, with teal panels, shimmering metal mesh evoking a sense of the sea and a three-panel painting of a blustering ocean.


True hospitality in an inhospitable environment

With his long hair and beard and an ability to retain a certain style when dressed in all-weather gear – shotgun slung over one shoulder, a brace of hazelhens in hand – Magnus Nilsson has become the poster-boy for the new wave of Scandinavian cooking that has captured the world’s imagination.

The aforementioned look isn’t for the glossy magazines either: the tiny Fäviken lays claim to being among the most isolated restaurants on the planet (it has the same latitude as Iceland) and Nilsson can regularly be found foraging and hunting in the 20,000-acre hunting estate for ingredients to serve in his rustic dining room. This is no mean feat considering that the landscape in which Nilsson stalks is frozen for half of the year, meaning that his skills in preserving vegetables, meat and game have to match his talent behind the stove, which he possesses in abundance.

More than mere sustenance, a meal at Fäviken is something of a rite of passage. Nilsson’s cooking is bold and creative with seemingly simple preparations often requiring a time-honoured skill and patience that has long died out in many kitchens. A dish of rakfisk (fermented trout) and sour cream, for example, requires a three-day brine followed by a six-month maturing process where pH levels must be kept under continual observation. All this effort amounts to one, albeit delicious, bite for the lucky diner.