The World’s Best 50 Restaurants List (www.theworlds50best.com) was announced last week with its extended list from 51-100 released a week earlier. Congratulations to all the winning restaurants, including Singapore’s Restaurant André (32nd) and Burnt Ends (70th). We caught up with a few restaurants who are new entries on the 2016 list:
Chef David Pynt
Burnt Ends, Singapore
Your restaurant is ranked 70th on the World’s Best Restaurants List. What does this accolade mean for you?
We are really stoked to be included on such a prestigious list. The accolade shows us that we are on the right track and our guests are enjoying the atmosphere, style of service and food that we provide.
Could you share a bit about how you put together some of your signature dishes such as the Burnt Ends Sanger; Onglet, Burnt Onion and Bone Marrow; and the Onion, Maple, Almond?
You will have to come and work with us!
What would you say are some of the recent highlights or changes you have made to the Burnt Ends daily menus, either in terms of new dishes or cooking style?
Over the past year, we have worked on dishes that remain true to our style and philosophy of simple and tasty food. One of our favourites this year is the Steak Frites.
What’s next for Burnt Ends?
In the coming year we are looking to continue to create new dishes for our restaurant that are true to our style as well as looking at ways to improve what we do in all aspects.
Chef Eric Frechon
Epicure, Hotel Le Bristol, Paris (re-entry)
What are your thoughts on coming in 69th on the World’s Best Restaurants List?
We are delighted. This is a true recognition of our daily work.
You’re known for highlighting terroir in your dishes, be it crab from Roscoff or asparagus from Pertuis. How does this approach complement your style of reinterpreting the classics?
I like mixing lesser known regional products with more luxurious ingredients as it helps to highlight produce that are not usually found in a three Michelin-starred restaurant. For example, the mackerel and the herring are not the type of fishes you would usually find on a French menu in a Michelin-starred establishment. I might also pair a fancy meal with a more unknown wine from a small winery, instead of making the more obvious choice of pairing it with a famous millesime.
Apart from your signature Macaroni stuffed with black truffle, artichoke and duck foie gras, what are two other dishes that exemplify your knack for combining unusual flavours?
The Duck Foie Gras, Oysters, Bouillon of Green Tea infused with Closed Oysters; and the Sweetbreads cooked with Seaweed Butter, Razor Shell Clams and Salicorne in Gravy.
What’s one dish that gives you the greatest pride?
This year I finalised the components for one of my favourite dishes: Leeks from ‘Ile de France grilled’, Seaweed Butter, Tartar of ‘Perle Blanche’ Oysters, Spring onions and Lemon. Leeks and oysters was one of the first dishes I cooked for my parents, and I had fun in perfecting it by executing it in a more delicate and contemporary way, 30 years later.
What native ingredients are you planning to incorporate in your new dishes for your summer menus?
I am focusing on Veal sweetbreads with Anchovies, Sautéed with Cucumber and Olive Oil. The seasonal ingredient here is the cucumber, which I am not used to including in my dishes.
Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa
Congratulations being named ‘One to Watch’ and coming in 77th on the World’s Best Restaurants List. What does this mean for you?
Being awarded ‘One to Watch’ means that DEN’s style of Japanese food is known, understood, and accepted by more people. ’77’ means double the luck for me (the Japanese consider ‘7’ to be a lucky number)—it’s a sign we are on the right track with what we have done for the restaurant.
What do you think it is about your style of modern Kaiseki that sets DEN apart from other Kaiseki restaurants?
Many people think that Japanese dining is serious or formal. I would like diners to enjoy their time at DEN without worrying about manners or rules. I want the guests to be able to relax and have fun. Take the chicken wings for example, which is stuffed with seasonal ingredients such as sticky rice and sansho pepper, then served in a faux-KFC box renamed as ‘DFC’. When the guests see something familiar, they can even eat it with their hands without using the chopsticks. I guess that might give ease to the dinners. They can enjoy the Japanese food in different ways.
How do you usually plan your eight-course menu to bring out the best of seasonal ingredients?
I will see what seasonal ingredients I have at hand. Then we will cook them and decide what goes into the menu. However what is most important for us is not only seasonality, but making the whole experience fun for our guests.
What are some of the changes you have done at Den over the past year?
After my wife, Emi, joined DEN, the service improved. We changed the menu at DEN from a la carte to omakase because of the increase in our guests and supporters.
Any new dishes in the works?
I’m using junsai (watershield) in my new dish, titled ‘Texture’. Junsai is usually served with dashi, but I am incorporating passion fruit, basil seeds, and tomato jelly into it to make it even more refreshing and fun to eat.
Chef Nick Bril
The Jane, Antwerp
What does the 54th position on the World’s Best Restaurants List mean for you and chef Sergio Herman?
It was an unexpected, nice compliment. It gives us a push to move forward for the coming years and hopefully the climb up the list as well.
Describe your style of cooking and how it is different from what you both were doing at Oud Sluis?
It’s more accessible, a bit more based on traditional cuisine, and we try to bring in world flavours using local products.
How do you usually plan your two tasting menus?
Our cuisine is always based on the seasons. We change our dishes weekly to keep our menus fresh and exciting. For instance, a recent dish I was very happy with was an oyster dish with Thai marinated summer vegetables and a Chinese mule nitro frozen cocktail.
What would you say are some of the highlights or changes you have made to the cuisine at The Jane?
Our cuisine has evolved in the sense that the dishes are more refined and balanced. More and more, we are also creating a signature style which is recognisably The Jane. I would describe this signature style as a modern world cuisine using local produce, and that is inspired by my travels and love of authentic cuisines.
What new dishes are you planning to incorporate in your summer menus?
I am working on a gastro menu, which will be available for guests who want to enjoy the highest quality produce. The whole menu will showcase the best of the most exquisite produce such as langoustine, foie gras, caviar and wagyu beef.
[photo credits: Burnt Ends, Epicure, DEN (Eisei Saito, Shinichiro Fujii), The Jane (Jesse Willems, Eric Kleinberg)]