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LONDON (Reuters) - Danish restaurant Noma was crowned the world's best restaurant for the third year in a row in an annual list, beating out top eateries in Spain, Brazil, Italy, the United States and elsewhere.
The S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna World's 50 Best Restaurants, produced by Britain's Restaurant Magazine, were unveiled in the medieval splendor of London's medieval after voting by a panel of more than 800 chefs, restaurateurs, journalists and food experts who rated chef Rene Redzepi's Noma as the "standard-bearer for the new Nordic movement."
Redzepi said he was delighted to win the award for the third time and added that his main philosophy was to create delicious food using locally sourced produce.
"It's something about the zeitgeist. It's about nature, people growing food, being close to food. Connecting with organic farmers, working hard to maintain a healthy ecology, the utmost deliciousness ties in with this," he said.
But he added that despite Noma's green credentials it still managed to cast off the northern European philosophy that fine food was a bit of a sinful self indulgence.
"Sustainability is not a clear goal, we are a temple of deliciousness and we celebrate it, there's nothing wrong with it. But in our part of the world, if you say you are in love with delicious food and what it does to you, you're supposed to feel remorse. It's a Protestant thing, the Catholics don't have that."
Nationally, Spain and the United States tied with three restaurants each in the top 10, though Spain's El Celler de Can Roca in Girona came second and Mugaritz in San Sebastian placed third. In all, the United States had eight eateries in the top 50 and Spain had five.
The Chefs' Choice award, voted for by the World's 50 Best chefs, was presented to Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, which was devastated by a fire two years ago. Spanish winners also included Arzak at no. 8, whose joint Head Chef Elena Arzak was awarded the Veuve Clicquot World's Best Female Chef award.
Eight U.S. restaurants made the top 50 list this year, the highest of which was New York based Per Se, owned by chef Thomas Keller, who was rewarded the Best Restaurant in North America and the S.Pellegrino Lifetime Achievement accolade after spending each of the past 10 years of the awards on the list under one guise or another.
Redzepi serves a new kind of Nordic cuisine such as musk ox and smoked marrow, sea urchin and dill or beef cheek and pear.
The 34-year-old chef is an ambassador for the New Nordic Food program set up by the Nordic Council of Ministers and has headed the restaurant since its 2003 opening.
The Noma approach to cooking is concentrated on obtaining the best raw materials from the Nordic region such as Icelandic skyr curd, halibut, Greenland musk ox and berries.
The two Michelin star restaurant does its own smoking, salting, pickling, drying, grilling and baking, prepares its own vinegars and concocts its own distilled spirits such as its own eaux de vies.
Noma makes systematic use of beers and ales, fruit juices and fruit-based vinegars for its sauces and soups rather than wine, and allows vegetables, herbs, spices and wild plants in season to play a prominent role in its cooking.
Located on the ground floor of a renovated listed 18th Century warehouse in the old Christianshavn district of Copenhagen, the restaurant's fittings and furnishings also embrace the Nordic spirit and atmosphere with smoked oak, stone, leather, water, glass and light.
With six restaurants on the list, Asia has secured its position on the gastronomic map. The event organizer announced the launch of the new Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards at the ceremony, which will be held in Singapore in February 2013.
The awards, which are also sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, are welcomed by top chefs from the continent including Ignatius Chan from Iggy's in Singapore, who took the Best Restaurant in Asia title at no. 26.
"Asia has a long culinary history and we offer a deep, diverse and rich gastronomic landscape," he said. "Asia's 50 Best Restaurants is a fantastic platform to educate and showcase some of the greatest Asian restaurants to the world."
South America confirmed its standing on the list with four restaurants spanning Mexico, Peru and Brazil, whose São Paulo eatery D.O.M, run by ex-DJ Alex Atala, rose three places to number four and claimed the Best Restaurant in South America title.
Editing by Paul Casciato and Patricia Reaney