No wonder this World Summit of Chefs is called the Davos of gastronomy. It is a prestigious international event which draws in the Who’s Who of culinary geniuses around the globe under the High Patronage of HRH Prince Albert II.
Professionals and experts come to share and pass on their experience. And, because these masters of their craft who are at the pinnacle of their profession are there, aspiring master chefs of the future flock to the event to participate in the three days of workshops and conferences and to rub shoulders with the greats. This is not a school – this is more like a gathering of career executives and entrepreneurs looking to ascend to the top of their profession.
Imagine the scale of this Summit: 1500 participants, 150 speakers; three days of workshops –and add to that 10 live cooking demonstrations and “encampments” of 100 high end suppliers from all over the globe. A typical day might have a dozen workshops of just under an hour each on every aspect of gastronomy and entrepreneurship. This is the place where the up and coming movers and shakers in the profession can have intimate conversations with their heroes of today and their own peers of tomorrow. It is hard to describe the level of serious professional interest combined with excitement as one wanders around the Grimaldi Conference Centre between workshops. There is buzz and also a feeling of cameraderie and sharing.
These are the confident conquerors of tomorrow, secure in their sharing and enjoying the company of their peers.Hello Monaco witnessed the exchange of knowledge one evening in the huge conference lobby where the best chefs in the world set up their cooking stations and served their fellow genius chefs and the conference attendees.
And there is a mega media event at the Summit to announce which of the many chefs already at the top of their profession will make it into the rarefied atmosphere of being in the top 100 in the world and then the top 10 in the world. Hello Monaco brings you the results for 2018 just announced.You can also bet that the winners in the next decade were in the workshop in this Summit with us.
If we take 50 countries and choose ten eminent physicians from each country and ask each of them to vote for the top ten doctors in the world – we would end up with a pretty incredible list wouldn’t we? And we could do the same for painters, sculptors, dancers, and actors and films. Come to think of it we do it already for actors and actresses at the Oscars in Los Angeles and for films at The Cannes Film Festival. So let’s celebrate here in Monte Carlo, let’s have our Oscar’s night for chefs; our Red Carpet night for culinary geniuses. Well, we really are doing just that – and here in Monaco, of course. And it’s called the Chefs World Summit and Hello Monaco was there to meet the winners.
Did you know that there are only about 550 two and three star Michelin-star restaurants in the world? These are at the pinnacle of world cuisine and just like the Oscars the top ten chefs that create the divine food in these restaurants are voted on by their peers. Monaco’s own Alain Ducasse squeaked in at #10; so you see how high is the bar one has to jump over to get on this list! Would you like to know who won? Here, Hello Monaco going to tell you – we reveal all.
Let’s radiate out from Monaco and see how easy it would be to sample the food of these culinary gods. Remember we are talking about the best in the world so to see them all you just might have to take a plane. Actually, you can probably walk to one of these restaurants at least – the Hotel de Paris which is right in the Centre of Monte-Carlo, «restaurant Louis Quinze». Lucky residents of Monaco have one of the world’s best right on their doorstep. As it is the season to be jolly, treat yourself to sushi and chilled blue lobster in the Salle Empire on Christmas day, perhaps and Alain Ducasse might even be there to greet you.
What is that phrase about the eye of the needle – if you are not French, getting into this top ten is like trying to get through the eye of a needle or like being voted the best sprinter in the world if you are not Jamaican and called Usain Bolt!
Fortunately for Hello Monaco readers, another restaurant linked to this exclusive list of Top Ten chefs is run by Enrico Crippa at Piazza Duomo in Alba. So we get the finest Italian restaurant in the world virtually on our doorstep too. And we are smack in the middle of the truffle season with Alba being “White Truffle Heaven”. Don’t hesitate, put on a warm coat and head for Piemonte. There has been a little rain lately so we might just have further sproutings of the rare white truffle. Ask Enrico to try the Caprioli with it. May the price of truffles decline, they are so rare this year; heaven forbid that one would have to pawn one’s Rolls Royce for a taste of heaven. So Italians can preen themselves; they can always be counted on to create incredible cuisine. But at the risk of creating a diplomatic incident remember not to mention that the Chinese may have invented raviolis. Marco Polo just might have brought wonton, the forerunner of ravioli, to Genoa on return from his travels to Peking in the late thirteenth century! It’s only a rumour!
Continuing on the Italian theme, but cooked by a great French master on the Top Ten list, just head to the Vague d’Or in Saint Tropez. One of the really young geniuses to be listed Arnaud Donckele will make for you Zitone pasta delicately filled with black truffle and foie gras.
Now where else can we in Monaco go to savour the food of the gods. A short flight will take us to the Catalan cities of Girona and Barcelona. Mention Catalans (and Basques) and immediately one thinks of great cuisine. Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca will cook you 20 courses (with matching wines) and maybe 3000 calories – that’s a friendly provocation to force him to disclose the real calorie count. Mind you getting a reservation is a lot harder than travelling to the restaurant from Monaco or paying 300 euros for the meal. Roca employs three people just to answer the phone and most of the time they have to commiserate with you and gently say they are fully booked! Do you remember when El Bullia few years back was voted top restaurant in the world? They would open the phone lines for just one day and be booked out for the whole year. It must be the same for Joan Roca. El Celler de Can Roca must be doing something right. Twice they have won best restaurant in the world but also 3 or 4 times they have been runner up.
Tokyo is not exactly next door to Monaco but if time and money are no object you know you are going to have unforgettable dining experiences par excellence. There is something about the drive for perfection and continuous improvement that has led Seiji Yamamoto to be a magnet of disciples from every continent. And Yamamoto has a way with words: “We are sacrificing the lives of the vegetables and fish we take from nature. Their life force was taken, but they still speak to us with their sweetness, their freshness, their crispy mouthfeel. These ingredients possess an implicit excellence that is the proof of their life. I prepare cuisine with the understanding that if you do not express that, then you have no right to touch Japanese ingredients.”
So a Japanese, an Italian and a Spaniard made it into the top 10. Where are all the women? Out of 100 top chefs, just five of those listed are female: Dominique Crenn, Anne-Sophie Pic, Elena Arzak, Nadia Santini and Carme Ruscalleda and none in the top ten. Women may rule the world but not in the kitchen, yet, it seems!
Place your bets for when the first woman makes the Top Ten and when. And what about South America. What about all that incredible food, in Mexico, in Columbia, in Peru? Latin America has only one chef, Alex Atala, from Sao Paulo in the Top 100.
The list would be so much more enriched, as we are sure it will be, as it evolves to include yet more variety of brilliant chefs. Where are they? Hello Monaco says let’s support them. We await 2019, we are sure to see new names.
In the meantime, it is after all just a short flight to Paris from Monaco where three of the Top Ten chefs have their Restaurants
- Yennick Alleno, restaurant Alleno
- Pierre Gagnarre, restaurant Gagnarre
- Pascal Barbot, restaurant L’Astrance.
And now to the winner, the number one on the list, the top chef in the world in 2018 and perhaps surprisingly making the top ten list for the first time even though he is no stranger to accolades.
It is Chef Michel Troisgros, who has been named best chef in the world 2018 by Le Chef: The Troisgros family, one of France’s most celebrated cooking dynasties, has held three Michelin stars at their crown jewel of a restaurant, originally in Roanne, but recently relocated a few kilometres away in Ouches, since 1968. Imagine holding three Michelin stars for fifty years! That’s an anniversary Hello Monaco is first in line to applaud. Let’s race to Troisgros to celebrate.