There are many great restaurants in the world, but only a few are considered influential, inspiring future chefs and diners to seek out unique cuisine and experiences. Included among the choices made by the world’s best chefs is a popular restaurant in Negril, Jamaica. The Rockhouse Restaurant is the choice of Dadrian Coke, the Chef de Cuisine at Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen in Toronto. In making his selection, Chef Coke cited the location of the restaurant – “one of the most beautiful locations on the beach” – along with the delicious dishes made with local ingredients that are served there. The sunset dining available at The Rockhouse makes this an unforgettable experience, he added.
What makes a restaurant “influential” and thus included on the list compiled by timeout.com is based on “the eye of the beholder” and can mean many different things. The restaurants chosen are not all Michelin-starred, but all have left lasting impressions on the chefs interviewed and provide new perspectives on the top restaurants in the world.
Mugaritz in Errenteria, Spain, was chosen by Chanthy Yen, founder of Touk and chef of Parliament Pub & Parlour in Montreal, for the dishes created there that are inspired by the land.
St John in London was chosen by Max Venning, co-owner of Top Cuvée in London, and Jeff Baker, development chef of Farmison & Co in the UK, who cited Chef Fergus Henderson’s approach in utilizing “nose-to-tail cooking” that reduces food waste and makes ordinary ingredients special.
Stephanie Izard, chef-owner of Girl & the Goat in Chicago and Los Angeles, chose the Olive Garden, which was her first job. She believes that the chain and other casual dining places that launched in the 1980s and 1990s had a real influence on diners and made eating out easier for families.
Restoran Osman in Johor, Malaysia, was chosen by Ho Wai-Kong, head chef at Bibi & Baba in Hong Kong, who called it “the most remarkable restaurant” as it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is the best place to find Malaysian Indian food and good company to enjoy it with.
El Bulli in Roses, Spain, was selected by Agustin Ferrando Balbi, chef-founder of Andō in Hong Kong, and Prashant Chipkar, executive chef and culinary director at Masti and chef at Time Out Market in Dubai. This restaurant had a strong influence on how modern chefs think about food and the restaurant concept as a whole. Chef Ferran Adria not only created good food but taught others how to create.
Three of the interviewed chefs chose Noma in Copenhagen as the most influential restaurant for its pioneering efforts at promoting Nordic cuisine and bringing attention to forgotten and ancient foraging, fermenting, and aging techniques into the modern world of cooking. Avinash Shashidhara, head chef of Pali Hill in London, Lamar Moore, executive chef of Eleven Eleven in Chicago, and Chris Leach, chef-cofounder of Manteca in London selected Noma.
The Grey in Savannah, Georgia, was the choice of Kristen Ashley, chef-owner of Cleo’s Southern Cuisine in Chicago, for the approach of Chef Mashama Bailey to Southern comfort food and expanding the range of Black cooking in the South.
Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville was selected by Kim Prince, owner of Hotville Chicken in Los Angeles, for being the first to offer Nashville-style hot chicken. The restaurant dates back to 1936 and has inspired “hundreds” of restaurants and menus worldwide, with versions of the menu found in Australia, Tokyo, the Philippines, Canada… just about every continent,” Prince said.
Anything from the Big Mamma Group, said Romain Bourillion, founder of Cocotte in London, because of the way the chefs take risks and offer great food at reasonable prices.
The French Laundry in Yountville, California, was chosen by Sharyn Harding, assistant culinary director of Heirloom Hospitality in Detroit, and Cesar Zapata, chef of Phuc Yea and Pho Mo at Time Out Market in Miami, for the way it executes its operations with grace and maintains high standards. Many current chefs began their careers in one of Chef Keller’s kitchens and brought his standards into their own work.
Mindy’s Bakery in Chicago was the choice of Felicia Mayden, executive pastry chef at Lovage at Ace Hotel Chicago, for the work of Chef Mindy Segal and her success “as a woman in the pastry world.” She is a great role model for young pastry chefs, Mayden added.
Silo in London was cited by Shaulan Steenson, executive chef at TEMAKI in Brixton for its approach to handling waste and focusing on the fact that changing waste management can potentially chance the whole hospitality industry.
Le Chique in Cancún, Mexico, which has closed, was inspiring in its technique and flavor profiles, according to Carlos Gaytán, chef-owner of Tzuco in Chicago, as Chef Jonatán Gómez-Luna was unique and created flavors no one else had ever tried.
McDonald’s, the choice of Nyesha Arrington, Los Angeles-based chef and former Top Chef contestant, deserves to be on the list because of its history and business model. The chain eatery began as a small burger chain but has changed the food landscape forever around the world.
Hillstone Restaurant Group was selected by Travis Strickland, chef of Baltaire in Los Angeles, who says that the group had a great influence on every three-Michelin-star restaurant in every city he ever lived in. He cites their importance for the group’s wide appeal and consistency.
Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans is the choice of Brian Jupiter, chef-owner of Ina Mae Tavern and Frontier in Chicago, who notes the way the restaurant has “withstood the test of time” and served as host to many civil rights leaders, politicians, and musicians. It has shaped the cuisine of New Orleans, according to Jupiter.
Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, and its chef Alice Waters is a real pioneer in making sustainable cooking and relationships with local suppliers a major element of modern restaurant operations. Waters continues to define modern American food, according to James Lowe, chef-founder of Lyle’s in London, and continues to exert influence with the “edible education” initiative. Also cited as most influential by Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca in London, who notes that Waters began the “farm-to-fork” movement.
Photo – Rockhouse Negril