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The World’s 5 Best Chefs Share Their Favorite Food Cities 🍝🍷

The World’s 5 Best Chefs Share Their Favorite Food Cities 🍝🍷

Gourmands in search of the world’s most extraordinary offerings have their own version of a bucket list, crossing off highly praised restaurants—many of which have to be booked months in advance—as they traverse the world. One of the biggest influences in creating such a tally is the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants guide. Since its inception in 2002, the rankings have pointed people to fine dining establishments around the globe, leading them to chefs who are, according to the organization, the most exciting minds in gastronomy.

This year’s iteration was announced today in Bilbao, a city located in Spain’s Basque Country. The region is a mecca for tasting menus, but is equally adored for its pintxos, bite-size snacks that are ordered at a bar and far more accessible than their white tablecloth counterparts. In the spirit of celebrating such culinary destinations, and to get the skinny on where to nosh on delectable food, we’ve asked the newly inaugurated best chefs of the world to share their favorite cities for food.

1. Massimo Bottura, Osteria Francescana “In a nostalgic way I have to say my hometown, Modena, Italy, in which I rediscover again and again the flavors of my youth. I see Milan as somewhere that breaks down walls; they broke the walls of the classic Italian town and became a city open to the world and their gastronomy is really interesting. Hong Kong is [also] one of my favorite places in the world—it’s so incredible. New York because it’s like my hometown. Talking about Modena and New York is the same thing; I feel such amazing joy there and it’s where I met [my wife] Lara. And Tokyo because there are so many friends: there’s Narisawa, there’s RyuGin, there’s Luca Fantin, but also my friend Jiro. I’m the only person in the world who can go to Jiro without a reservation and eat there—it’s not because I say so, it’s because he says so! And that’s my approach with the world and traveling . . . to stay in the kitchens of my friends and feel like home.”

2. Joan Roca, El Celler de Can Roca “I love Bangkok for its street food; Mexico City for its diverse and fantastic gastronomy; Seoul has a very interesting culinary tradition that I feel really close to and I also enjoy the street food there; and Girona, my city. It’s difficult to choose my favorite restaurants since I have so many friends in each city. There are so many interesting restaurants to explore in those cities, and others as well.”

3. Mauro Colagreco, Mirazur “Bangkok is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s dynamic and diverse; a melting pot of different countries and cultures yet still anchored in strong Thai tradition, with each district having its own unique atmosphere. I’ve only discovered the city recently and am in awe of how refined the cuisine is, embracing the ingredients and aromatic flavors. Rich Thai broths flavored with spices served on the streets of Bangkok is something I’ve grown to love. Tom yum, and variations of it, are so distinctive to the culture of the city. The iconic restaurant Gaggan is one to visit for a blowout meal; it’s truly remarkable and an experience like no other. For high-quality ingredients, delicate presentation, and the ‘wow’ factor, Kyo Bar presents outstanding pastry skills. Le Normandie provides delicious seasonal tastes and flavors specializing in modern French cuisine in the heart of Bangkok. And for family-style Thai, the restaurant Baan stands out from all others and is just delicious.”

4. Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park “I’m biased, but I think New York continues to just be an incredible place to eat. I’m allowed to have hometown pride, right?! My recommendation is to always find a mix, go to those spots with history and deep roots, but also be sure to try something new to see how cuisine is pushing itself forward in the city. You can dine incredibly well here for just a few dollars per meal, or treat yourself to something that’s more of a multi-course, sit-down experience. There are too many options to name, but my go-tos have been Russ & Daughters for a classic bagel sandwich and smoked fish, pizza from Pasquale Jones, pasta and rustic Italian from I Sodi, Kajitsu for incredibly beautiful and delicious vegetarian Japanese food, or Breads Bakery for their addictive babka . . . there really are limitless options across so many different types of cuisines. Even a visit to the Union Square Greenmarket right now will produce so many things to eat—baked goods, fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, and cheeses, all from the surrounding region.”

5. Gaggan Anand, Gaggan “We’re in one of them! So of course [Bilbao and the surrounding area]. I love my home city Kolkata, so even though there are better cities than that in the world, it won’t beat my childhood memories, because I was born and raised there. I live in Bangkok and we all know about Bangkok. It’s a city where people come for food more than anything else. And I love Fukuoka, Japan, where I’m going in the future. I also now like Hong Kong a lot because it’s all about street food and noodles—I’m big on Asian food. And then I want to explore South America more, go to new territories . . . . The world is incredible. Food is such an interconnected thing and it’s important to tell everyone that yes, this could be my favorite, but it’s very personal. If there’s a city without any good food, I won’t go there! It’s tough [to name some of my favorite restaurants], but in Fukuoka there’s an izakaya where I eat a lot called Mikan—it’s new, has natural wine, simple food. In Hong Kong, my favorite noodle bar is closing in August, but they make noodles with the old bamboo method and it’s called Wing Wah. I love it, so I’m going to try and go have my noodle binge before they close. In the Basque Country, Etxebarri. Then in Kolkata there are many street vendors, some of which don’t even have a name, but I know exactly who is who, and the fathers used to cook for me when I was kid and now their sons cook for me. And it’s in the streets and that’s my memory of the streets, and that’s very important.”

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