The World’s 50 Best Restaurants: What goes into the making of the most sought-after dishes around the globe?
Top of class
Tonight is the night — the annual event gourmands all over the world wait with bated breath for. This year's edition of The World's 50 Best Restaurants is held in none other than our glittering island's Marina Bay Sands, and Singapore is the first city in Asia to host the illustrious event, which celebrates global gastronomy and draws the biggest gathering of chefs, restaurateurs, producers, media and VIPs.
While we look forward to the 2019 list of places to check out, we also remember the dishes that have brought our palates continual joy in the past year. Below, the creations that have won our hearts and stomachs, and the tales behind each dish, as told by the head chefs themselves.
Julien Royer: "The beetroot dish represents my belief that vegetables should not be viewed as just an accompaniment, but as equals to any protein on a plate. With this dish, we delicately treat the simplest ingredients at their peak and coax the most incredible flavours and textures from it to produce a beautiful, comforting dish. This transformation of a humble ingredient makes it a very special dish that represents what we try to do every day at Odette. Try it with a Sicilian red or Beaujolais."
Vladmir Mukhin: "This dish is a combination of my childhood memories as well as a coincidence. It was in late autumn when the overnight temperature started to drop below zero degrees Celsius. One of my suppliers who provides White Rabbit with vegetables forgot to harvest the last few cabbage heads so it had become slightly frozen. She brought me these hopeless ones saying: "Vladimir, maybe you could use it somehow." Suddenly, the recipe of a traditional Russian Thursday Salt came to my mind: salt mixed with rye wort, packed in cabbage leaves and left in the Russian oven till rye burns out. The smell of burnt cabbage leaves was always so pleasant. I burnt these cabbages on coals, till it became black on the outside and sweet and juicy on the inside, as it had been previously frozen. By then, it only required a nice and smooth sauce — I looked around and found black, red and pike caviar in the kitchen. It was perfect for my a la Russe sauce, but I needed a base for it. As I didn't want to use heavy cream, I used the outer mantle of scallops — considered to be leftovers in Europe — and cooked it slowly at 60 degrees Celsius. Then I reduced the broth, mixed it with caviar and added some dill oil. Dressing my cabbage with the sauce, with a sprinkling of Thursday Salt and ashes, brought about the realisation that it tasted just like my grandmother's open cabbage pies, which we used to eat with sour cream and inexpensive caviar (like pike) and dill."
Rodolfo Guzmán: "This dish has a soft centre, and is stuffed with navajuelas (razor clams) in an environment of marine acceleration, which is an allophyte — similar to the transition between a plant and an alga — that grows on the rock and does not need soil to grow. We then flavour it with rock plants, accompanied by a kollof or cochayuyo (seaweed) root stock. This soup was discovered in Boragó, and we are very proud of it. It reminds us of a lighter version of soy sauce that comes from the natural flavour of the root."
Yannick Alléno: "Whenever I taste this dish, I feel like I'm eating a slice of sugary grapefruit. I love it because it is full of different smells, and it is complex like a great wine. We played with the both bitterness and forte acidity. Whenever we create a new dish, it is very important to listen to the product and be humble enough to go where it wants to take us. There are strong hints [of flavour] between the sea urchin and the grapefruit, and we chose to work with grapefruit sugar and candied urchin to serve up a dish with many contrasts."
Tim Raue: "The dish 'Wasabi Langoustine' is based on the contemporary Cantonese wasabi prawn dish. We substituted the prawn with the more fleshy, juicy meat of a luxurious langoustine — the langoustine is battered and fried to crisp perfection before it is coated in a rich, creamy Japanese wasabi mayo. The Thai-style dressing at the bottom of the dish is made of fish sauce, lime juice, unripe mango, carrot and coriander stems, poured in a ring of sweet mango gel. The dish is a rollercoaster ride on the palate, with deeply sweet, punchy sour and a spicy aftertaste. It is my blend of all the things about Asian cuisine which I love, cooked by a German."