Legendary chef Alain Ducasse’s first foray into food was not a runaway success. As a child growing up in France he would watch his grandmother cooking and aged about 11 he decided to make a chocolate roulade himself. “My grandmother let me attempt this, although I was not up to the task,” Ducasse recalls. “Chocolate ended up everywhere and in the end the cake did not resemble a roulade at all!”
Luckily for the culinary world Ducasse was not put off by his early endeavour. Last month saw the opening of his 25th restaurant worldwide. He has chosen Asia for the first international outpost of Rech Alain Ducasse, a French seafood restaurant replacing his Spoon concept at the Intercontinental hotel in Hong Kong.
[UPDATE: Amber is now number 24 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2017 and remains the only restaurant in Hong Kong to be recognised on the list.]
This month the iconic 50 Best Restaurants in the World awards roll around again. Last year, a Dutch born, French trained chef working in Hong Kong achieved something no one else in China has managed for six years – an entry on the coveted list.
A dish at Narisawa – Asia’s inaugural Best Restaurant
With the fifth incarnation of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants being held on February 21st, Chopstix looks back at the launch of the list in 2013:
On Monday evening [February 25th 2013] the best restaurant in Asia will be announced. Whatever your viewpoint on awards and rankings, the winner is certain to be thrust to international fame and a year of being officially referred to as “Asia’s best restaurant” across the media. At least, such is the precedent of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, the creators of which are behind this launch.
Back in 2002, journalists at the UK industry magazine, Restaurant, came up with the idea of running The World’s 50 Best Restaurants as a feature which they knew would ruffle a few feathers and create publicity in the process. They couldn’t have predicted quite how huge their creation would become though.
Helena Rizzo former World’s Best Female Chef
Food and models are not an obvious pairing. Rather than going together like crispy duck and plum sauce, the modelling industry is more likely to make you think of faddy diets or eating disorders. Yet these rarefied sylphs are moving from the catwalk to the kitchen.
Suckling Pig by El Celler de Can Roca for Amex at The Peninsula Hong Kong. Copyright David Loftus.
[UDPATE: In June 2019 El Celler de Can Roca joined the newly created Best of the Best list as part of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. This “hall of fame” celebrates previous winners of the no 1 slot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and are not eligible to be voted for on the list going going forward.]
High above Hong Kong inside Felix restaurant at the top of The Peninsula hotel Joan Roca the head chef and eldest of three brothers behind one of the world’s most famous restaurants, El Celler de Can Roca, is assembling two dishes.
The first, a sous vide fish, Joan explains is inspired by his home of Girona in Spain and can be found on the menu at the Rocas’ three Michelin starred establishment there which has twice been crowned the World’s Best Restaurant.
The second, crispy pork, is a new creation that’s an homage to Hong Kong his host city today. The demonstration, and the reason Joan is so far from home, is part of an exclusive dining experience the Rocas are holding at The Peninsula organised by American Express Invites for Centurion cardholders.