Eleven Madison Park was named the top restaurant in the world by World’s 50 Best Restaurants on Wednesday, becoming the first American name to reach the No. 1 spot on the celebrated list since 2004. The New York restaurant bumped last year’s winner, Osteria Francescana in Italy, to second place.
Getting on the list has, in some estimations, become a higher prize than earning three Michelin stars, an accomplishment that many of the selected restaurants have achieved. The last American restaurant to get first place was Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in 2003 and 2004.
But European restaurants have won every year since then, and tend to occupy many of the top spots on the list, even though the awards committee has increasingly given attention to Asian and South American restaurants in recent years.
The news of earning the No. 1 place brings greater attention to Eleven Madison Park chef Daniel Humm. A native of Switzerland, Humm has already been at the highest echelons of the industry, earning the restaurant three Michelin stars as well as third place on last year’s world’s best list, after an 11-year absence of American restaurants in the top three. At the time, he attributed the rise to the restaurant’s turn toward minimalism.
“I believe very much that less is more. There’s no room for error, it has to be perfect and work very well,” he told The Post in 2016. He added: “As a chef, it took me a long time to find myself.”
A recent Esquire profile of the chef presciently called Humm the best chef in America. But it also portrayed a chef who doesn’t command as much name recognition as the likes of David Chang, Danny Meyer and Thomas Keller. “Maybe I feel like in all this time, no one really knows who I am,” Humm told Esquire writer Jeff Gordinier.
That may soon change. In the same profile, Meyer, the restaurateur behind Union Square Cafe and Shake Shack, praised Humm as a chef who “can actually satisfy my mind and my hedonistic needs at the same time. Very few people can be a virtuoso as well as a pop artist.”
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards committee is composed of chefs, food writers and industry experts from around the world. Both France and Spain had six restaurants on this year’s list, including the third-place El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, which has topped the list twice.
Five other American restaurants made the top 50 list. The greatest ascent came from Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Dan Barber’s Pocantico Hills, New York, restaurant, which earned 11th place on this year’s list, after coming in 48th last year.
The other restaurants are: Le Bernadin in New York (17th place); Alinea, Chicago (21st); Saison, San Francisco (37th); Cosme, New York (40th).
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly said Blue Hill at Stone Barns was ranked No. 4 last year. It was No. 48.