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World’s Best Restaurants, Minus Gordon Ramsay

It seems unlikely that Noma, a Copenhagen, Denmark restaurant serving hyper-local “cold weather cuisine,” would top British magazine The Restaurant’s prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Even more unlikely is that the United States would place eight restaurants on the list, more than any other country, with three of them finishing in the Top 10. But whatever happened to Gordon Ramsay?

Noma ended the four-year reign of molecular gastronomy pioneer Ferran Adria’s legendary El Bulli of Spain as the world’s best restaurant, even though Adria walked away with the magazine’s Chef of the Decade Award. Noma—and its chef, Rene Redzepi—was the top choice of the more than 800 critics, journalists and food experts who participated in the judging. Some of Redzepi’s dishes seem a little off the wall to us—his “radishes in edible soil” sounds like it would get us more in harmony with the earth than we really want to get. But it’s important to note that while Adria’s wildly inventive culinary experiments once captivated the judges, Redzepi’s commitment to using only local, seasonal ingredients played a key role in his march to the top. It signals a changing of the guard in the food world, and it seems like this approach has a chance of trickling down into the mainstream a lot further and faster than Adria’s experimental fare ever did.

We wonder if those praying for a high U.S. finish in the next Bocuse d’Or cooking event have seen The Restaurant’s list. The Bocuse backers think a win there would position the U.S. at the top of the culinary heap. But this year’s The Restaurant rankings make the case that it’s already there. The U.S. had more restaurants on the list, and more in the Top 10, than any other country.

Here’s where U.S. restaurants were ranked in The Restaurant’s: 2010 World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards:
7. Alinea, Chicago
8. Daniel, New York City
10. Per Se, New York City
15. Le Bernardin, New York City
26, Momofuku Ssam Bar, New York City
32. The French Laundry, Yountville, CA
45. wd-50, New York City
50. Eleven Madison Park, New York City
Barely missing the Top 50 was another U.S. restaurant, Jean Georges. This New York City fine dining standby came in at No. 52.

Missing from the Top 100 completely was Gordon Ramsay. His flagship operation, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, came in at No. 13 on this list in 2008, but dropped all the way out of the Top 100 last year. This year saw no comeback, as even his London restaurant Maze (a Ramsay venue helmed by chef Jason Atherton), No. 91 in 2009, fell out of the rankings completely.

Speaking of dropping out, Ramsay also started but failed to complete both the Los Angeles and London’s Flora Marathon this spring. His TV career is still going strong, but Ramsay’s empire is built on the notion of his being a bad-boy chef who nevertheless produces world-class food at his 20 restaurants around the globe. The experts who vote on this list of top restaurants are telling us that his food isn’t so world-class any more. We hope his fall from grace will spur him to refocus on the cooking and restaurant aspect of his career and cut back on the media overexposure.