The World’s Best Chefs on their most Unique Flavour Combinations

One week ago, Spanish restaurant El Celler de Can Roca regained its title of World’s Best Restaurants 2015. Featuring restaurants from 21 countries around the world across six continents, the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants provides an annual barometer of the greatest gastronomic experiences across the globe. But how would the chefs themselves describe their cooking style? Foodpairing went to the ceremony in London and asked the chefs about their most favourite and extraordinary combinations.

Childhood memories – Eleven Madison Park (No. 5)

Approaching Daniel Humm from Eleven Madison Park in New York (No. 5) he immediately brings up the milk and honey combination from his mother. Daniel:

‘When I was sick or I couldn’t sleep, my mother cured me with milk, honey and seasalt. Playing around with those flavours, even nowadays, puts me at ease.’

Even though Daniel didn’t make it to the first spot as René was predicting, he was still awarded with the Chefs’ Choice Award. Better luck in 2016, Daniel!

A dish for a cocktail – Mugaritz (No. 6)

When it comes to unique flavour pairings and Adoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, we can refer back to the nice project we did together. Aduriz created a perfect matching dish for bartender Toni Conigliaro’s classic cocktail.

noma rene redzepi world 50 best

Cooking with sperm – Noma (No. 3)

Just before the ceremony kicks off, we bump into the headchef of Noma (No. 3). If we question René Redzepi on his best guess for the world’s best restaurant of 2015 he names Eleven Madison Park. The New Nordic movement Rene has been leading is – other than EMP – looking towards fermentation.

‘A few days ago we fermented the sperm sac of blowfish in our lab, that was actually very weird, but in three months from now the result will be delicious. I’m not sure yet how to combine it in my recipes.’

Redzepi mostly gets his inspiration from Japan; he likes the purity of the culinary history and tradition over there.

Andre chiang from restaurant andre foodpairing

At the catwalk – André (No. 46)

If there existed some award for the most stylish chef, André Chiang from Restaurant André (No. 46) would certainly score all the points. His salmon pink trousers with his flowerpower bomber jacket was a foodpairing in itself. As one of the seven Asian representatives in the list, André firmly states that there are three things that no man can ever resist:

‘First: fermentation, since it is the oldest cooking method that is being used in different cultures worldwide. Apart from that I consider the flavours of charcoal grilling mouth-watering and last but not least I can never say no to vanilla. This combination of flavour and cooking techniques makes up my culinary vision.’

alinea dessert Photo by Huffington Post, Alinea Dessert

Caviar and white chocolate? – Alinea (No. 26)

If we ask Grant Achatz from the Chicago based restaurant Alinea (No. 26) to point out his favourite, unusual combination, he starts laughing. ‘There are no unusual flavour combinations, sometimes I hear people cheering about caviar and white chocolate, whereas, if you deconstruct the combination, it’s only about the balance between sweet and salty. Whatever creation you serve (or are being served), you can mainly break the dish down into the famous five: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami.’

Did somebody say coffee – Azurmendi (No. 11)

By talking to Eneko Axta from the Spanish Azurmendi (No. 19) we soon find out that one of his favourite combinations to work with is lobster and coffee. His cutting edge but sustainable style of cooking even inspired Gert De Mangeleer of Hertog Jan (No. 53) to an adaptation of this dish. With seven restaurants in the 50 Best list, Spain has more than one reason to celebrate with Mugaritz remaining at No. 6 and Tickets in Barcelona making its first appearance in the list at No. 42. Albert Adrià of Tickets – and formerly pastry chef of El Bulli – is also recognised for his extraordinary talent as the 2015 World’s Best Pastry Chef, sponsored by Cacao Barry.

the ledbury brett graham foodpairing flavour pairing

50 Shades of Earl Grey – The Ledbury ( No. 20)

Owner of The Ledbury (n° 20), Brett Graham, seems totally at ease when we catch him talking to his colleagues at the courtyard. Since he lives in London, he’s one of the lucky few that just had to jump into a cab to get here. Brett is a nature boy who likes to keep things healthy. When we directed him the question of his most personal combination of The Ledbury he shouted without any doubt ‘Earl Grey and truffle!’ – a fine example of the gutsy modern British food he is serving.

Having witnessed the buzz in the global gastronomy, one can truly state that there is no such thing as the world’s best restaurant, only a community of extraordinary culinary talent that is each year exchanging influences, ideas and of course, flavours. See you next year!

For the full list, visit Photos by onEdition Photography, the official photographers for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015.

Need inspiration?

Sign up now