Category Archives: News

Heston Blumenthal Wins The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award

Celebrated chef Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has been awarded the 2017 Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award. The prestigious honour is part of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, which will take place on April 5th at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Australia.

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One of the culinary world’s most influential figures, Blumenthal, 50, is largely self-taught. Aside from a two-week stint at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in the UK, the London-born Blumenthal has no formal training. He developed his multi-sensory approach to cooking through investigation, experimentation and a single-minded vision to challenge culinary norms.

In 1995, Blumenthal opened The Fat Duck, a 40-seat restaurant in the tiny UK village of Bray, where he earned plaudits for his playful, inventive multi-course tasting menu and curious flavour combinations.

Blumenthal’s famed recipes for snail porridge and egg-and-bacon ice cream revealed an appreciation for art and science and put him at the forefront of a gastronomic revolution. Using equal parts science, technical wizardry, imagination and a sense of humour, Blumenthal presented a hyper-experimental dining experience. He was awarded his first Michelin star in 1999, his second in 2002 and his coveted third in 2004. In 2005, The Fat Duck secured the No.1 spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Building on the success of The Fat Duck, in 2004 Blumenthal acquired The Hinds Head, a 15th-century pub in Bray serving traditional seasonal cuisine and historic British recipes. In 2011, he launched his first restaurant outside Bray, Dinner by Heston Blumethal, at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London, to universal acclaim.

Dinner’s menu mines historical British recipes from as far back as the 14th century and reworks them using contemporary cooking techniques. A year after opening, Dinner earned its first Michelin star and made its debut on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list at No.9, and it has maintained a position on the list ever since. His other renowned restaurants in England include The Crown pub, also in Bray, and The Perfectionists’ Café at London Heathrow.

In 2015, the maverick chef once again made headlines when he temporarily relocated The Fat Duck to Melbourne for six months while the flagship restaurant underwent a renovation. Once The Fat Duck returned to its original location, the Melbourne venue was relaunched as the second Dinner with Heston Blumenthal restaurant.

Over the last decade, Blumenthal has forged a hugely successful TV career with shows including Heston’s Feasts and Heston’s Fantastical Food, as well as working with premium British grocery chain Waitrose. Among the world’s most revered chefs, Blumenthal has received multiple honorary degrees, a fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and an OBE for services to British gastronomy.

As the 2017 recipient of The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement award, he joins an elite group of international chefs. Former honourees include France’s Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse, Alain Passard and Jöel Robuchon, as well as Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.

Acknowledging this new honour, Blumenthal said “I am honoured, thrilled and really quite excited to be given The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award. For me, this award is particularly special because it’s voted by my peers. After 20 years of The Fat Duck, I now feel like I’m just starting – and those 20 years were my apprenticeship. The future is very, very exciting.”


Credit: Catch On
Photography: Alisa Connan

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Announces 2017 Winners

Before an audience of the region’s most celebrated chefs, industry VIPs and international media, the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, was announced at an awards ceremony at the W Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. The 2017 list welcomes 10 new entries, while China, Japan, Singapore and Thailand each count 9 restaurants on the list.

Gaggan in Bangkok claims the No.1 spot for a third consecutive year. Gaggan retains the dual titles of The Best Restaurant in Asia, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, and The Best Restaurant in Thailand, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. Chef Gaggan Anand is renowned for his creative twists on Indian cuisine, reinventing traditional dishes through contemporary techniques.

Also representing Thailand are familiar favourites Nahm (No.5), Issaya Siamese Club (No.21), Eat Me (No.31) and Bo.Lan (No.19), the latter making a welcome return to the list. 2017 marks the debut of four Bangkok restaurants: Sühring (No.13), The Dining Room at The House on Sathorn (No.36), Le Du (No.37) and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Bangkok (No.40).

Individual Country Awards:

Rising one place to No.2, chef André Chiang’s Restaurant André retains the title of The Best Restaurant in Singapore, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. Other Singapore entries in the top 20 include Burnt Ends (No.10), Les Amis (No.16) and Waku Ghin (No.20).

Amber (No.3) in Hong Kong is again named The Best Restaurant in China, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. The seven Hong Kong restaurants in the 2017 list include longtime favourites, such as Lung King Heen (No.17) and The Chairman (No.47), as well as newcomer Ronin (No.45).

Narisawa (No.6), one of six Tokyo-based entries in the top 20, is named The Best Restaurant in Japan, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, for a fifth successive year. Florilège, the 2016 recipient of the One To Watch Award, debuts on the list at No.14.
Maintaining its No.15 ranking, Mingles in Seoul retains the title of The Best Restaurant in Korea while Gallery Vask (No.35) in Manila keeps The Best Restaurant in the Philippines honour.

At No. 30, Indian Accent is awarded The Best Restaurant in India for the third time. The winners’ circle also includes RAW (No.24), winning The Best Restaurant in Taiwan title, Ministry of Crab in Colombo (No.29) securing honours as The Best Restaurant in Sri Lanka.

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Other award winners announced include:

Highest New Entry Award, sponsored by Mekhong:
Odette, Singapore

Launched in November 2015, chef-owner Julien Royer’s restaurant at the iconic National Gallery Singapore debuts at No.9, the highest new entry in the history of the list. Serving Asian-inspired modern French cuisine, each dish at Odette is presented with impeccable style and characteristic perfection.

Asia’s Best Pastry Chef:
Kazutoshi Narita, Tokyo

Japanese chef Kazutoshi Narita began his career alongside the ‘Picasso of Pastries’ Pierre Hermé -currently The World’s Best Pastry Chef Award holder – before honing his skills at Joël Robuchon restaurants in New York, Las Vegas and Tokyo. At Esquisse and the recently opened Esquisse Cinq, both in Tokyo, the award-winning pastry specialist combines the delicate artistry of Japanese cuisine with the nuances and creative flair of French pâtisserie.

Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Peroni:
Dave Pynt, Singapore

An apprenticeship at Asador Etxebarri in Spain helped spark Australian-born Dave Pynt’s passion for playing with fire. Since 2013, Pynt has been turning up the heat at Burnt Ends, a gourmet barbecue restaurant in Singapore. Pynt’s mastery of various cooking techniques – from smoking and slow roasting to grilling – has earned him the respect of his regional peers. Burnt Ends debuted on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2015 at No.30 and this year Pynt is the recipient of the Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Peroni.

The Art of Hospitality:
Den, Tokyo

Rising 26 places to No.11, Den delights in surprising and entertaining its guests, making it a worthy recipient of the inaugural Art of Hospitality Award in Asia. The approach is playful, personable and inventive, reflecting the personality of Den’s chef-owner, Zaiyu Hasegawa.

Highest Climber Award:
Locavore, Bali

Celebrating Balinese culture and using only sustainably sourced local ingredients, Locavore rises 27 places to No.22, earning the title of The Best Restaurant in Indonesia.

Other award honourees include chef-restaurateur May Chow of Little Bao in Hong Kong and Bangkok, who is named Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017. TocToc in Seoul earns the Miele One To Watch Award for its creative use of seasonal Korean ingredients and refined French-influenced menu. Celebrated Italian chef Umberto Bombana of 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana is this year’s recipient of the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award.


Source & images: Catch On

Chef Umberto Bombana is the 2017 Winner of The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award

Umberto Bombana, the renowned Italian chef of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong, is the 2017 recipient of The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award. Honoured for his ability to push the limits of traditional Italian cuisine, Bombana will be presented with his award at the fifth annual Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony on Tuesday, 21st February 2017, hosted at the W Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Part of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards programme, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, The Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award is voted for by members of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, comprising over 300 leaders in the restaurant and culinary industries throughout Asia.

A native of Bergamo in Northern Italy, Bombana’s culinary talents took him around the world, eventually leading him to Hong Kong in 1993 where he was appointed Executive Chef at Toscana at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. His creative flair and passion for refined Northern Italian cooking made Toscana an iconic destination on Hong Kong’s fine-dining scene. Showcasing his mastery of Italian cuisine and seasonal ingredients, he earned the title, ‘King of White Truffles’. During Bombana’s 15-year tenure at Toscana, he was named ‘Best Italian Chef in Asia’ in 2002 by the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (ICIF) and appointed Worldwide Ambassador of the White Truffle by the Piedmontese Regional Enoteca Cavour in Italy.

Following the 2008 closure of Toscana and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Hong Kong, the Italian maestro launched 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in 2010. Inspired by Italian film director Federico Fellini’s 1963 movie 8½, the restaurant pays homage to Bombana’s native cuisine, serving refined Italian food with the finest seasonal ingredients sourced from around the world. Otto e Mezzo Bombana debuted on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013 at No.39 and ranked within the top 10 of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for three consecutive years. Since 2012, the restaurant has also boasted a coveted three-star ranking in the annual Michelin guide, the first and only Italian restaurant outside Italy to receive such a distinction.

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Extending his culinary influence in Asia, the popular chef launched 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana Shanghai in 2012 and Opera Bombana in Beijing a year later. In December 2013, he opened Hong Kong’s first refined Italian trattoria, CIAK – In The Kitchen, and has since expanded to a second outlet. More recently, he opened a further branch of Otto e Mezzo Bombana at Galaxy Macau.


Credit: Bombana & Catch On

Welcoming Madrid Fusion Manila 2017 in April

In keeping with the Department of Tourism’s ongoing goal to establish the Philippines as a center of gastronomy in Asia, it is hosting the 3rd Madrid Fusión Manila on April 6-8, 2017 at the SMX Convention Center. In addition to promoting tourism, the event aims to create an awareness and demand for various agricultural and food products/ingredients, and catalyze trade and business partnerships in tourism and gastronomy.

With Filipino cuisine cited as one of top food trends in 2017 by publications like New York Times and Bloomberg, Madrid Fusión Manila is poised to once again draw the world’s top chefs and food enthusiasts. This year’s theme, “Towards a Sustainable Gastronomic Planet,” will explore how to transform gastronomy while respecting environmental limits and enhancing cultural traditions.

The event will have three main components:
(1) International Gastronomy Congress
(2) Fusión Manila International Gastronomy Expo
(3) the month-long Flavors of the Philippines calendar of events

The International Gastronomy Congress will be a platform for innovation to discuss the future of food. Speakers include some of the world’s best chefs like:

  • Paco Pérez of the 2 Michelin Star restaurants Miramar and Enoteca (both in Spain) and 1 Michelin Star restaurant 5-Cinco (Germany)
  • Jordi Roca & Alejandra Rivas of the 3 Michelin Star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, No. 2 World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 (Spain)
  • Régis Marcon of the 3 Michelin Star restaurant Régis and Jacques Marcon (France) 2
  • Pedro Subijana of the 3 Michelin Stars and 4 Repsol Suns restaurant Akelarre (Spain)
  • Gert de Mangeleer of the 3 Michelin Star restaurant Hertog Jan (Belgium)
  • Simon Rogan of the 3 Michelin Star restaurant L’Enclume and 1 Michelin Star restaurant Fera at Claridge’s (United Kingdom)
  • Akrame Benallal of Akrame, 2 Michelin Star restaurant (France) and 1 Michelin Star restaurant (Hong Kong)
  • Magnus Ek of the 2 Michelin Star restaurant Oaxen Krog & Slip (Sweden)
  • Julien Royer of the 2 Michelin Star restaurant Odette (Singapore)
  • Kamilla Seidler & Michelangelo Cestari of the 1 Michelin Star restaurant Gustu (Bolivia)
  • Rodrigo de la Calle of the 1 Michelin Star restaurant El Invernadero (Spain)
  • Tatiana & Katia Levha of La Servan restaurant (France), included in the Condé Nast Traveler’s 10 Young Chefs to Watch in 2016
  • Sally Camacho Mueller, runner up in the second season of Top Chef, Just Desserts (USA)
  • Jordy Navarra of Toyo Eatery restaurant (Philippines)
  • Robby Goco of Green Pastures restaurant and Filipino pioneer in slow food movement and sustainable dining experience (Philippines)
  • Gene Gonzalez of Café Ysabel restaurant, the only Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) awardee in culinary arts (Philippines)

The Fusión Manila International Gastronomy Expo will showcase gourmet food and beverage products, ingredients, technologies, creative tableware, destination and lifestyle settings, and services. In keeping with the theme, the expo will also feature culinary tourism. B2B meetings will be arranged for interested expo exhibitors.

Celebrated annually in Madrid since 2003, Madrid Fusión is considered one of the leading gastronomy gatherings in the world.

Ana Roš Named as World’s Best Female Chef 2017

Ana Roš of Hiša Franko in Kobarid, Slovenia, has been named The World’s Best Female Chef 2017. She will be presented with the honor at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony at the historic Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne on April 5th.

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A self-taught chef, Roš grew up influenced by the cuisines of Slovenia’s neighboring countries – Italy, Hungary, Austria and Croatia. At Hiša Franko, Roš draws inspiration from Slovenia’s culinary heritage and ingredients, adding audacious, surprising twists to traditional dishes.

Housed in an historic 1860 building, Hiša Franko is a family business with Roš working alongside her husband, Valter. Together they present an innovative, inviting dining experience that evokes the warmth and hospitality of a private residence. With Hiša Franko situated in Slovenia’s beautiful Soča Valley only three kilometers from the Italian border, Roš takes full advantage of the location to source ingredients from local producers.

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A former national ski champion, Roš originally pursued a career in the diplomatic corps. In 2000, however, she and Valter took ownership of Hiša Franko from Valter’s father, prompting Roš to begin her gastronomic journey. While honing her culinary skills, Roš discovered the exceptional quality and diversity of Soča Valley produce. Building on this foundation, Roš developed a sophisticated, seasonal menu that highlights the freshness of local ingredients and introduces gourmands to the traditions of her native cuisine.

Throughout her career, Roš has connected food with philanthropy. The 44-year-old chef has traveled to India to mentor underprivileged girls, taught recovering addicts how to cook and hosts an annual event for local children in her kitchen to demonstrate the simple pleasures of baking bread. Her participation in global culinary events and congresses has raised her profile, further boosted by her featuring in the acclaimed Netflix series, Chef’s Table.

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Accepting the prestigious accolade, Roš added: “The award came as a surprise to me. It is a big responsibility to accept this award, especially as a self-taught cook, but the recognition provides an opportunity for people to reassess Slovenia as an interesting gastronomic destination.”

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Roš follows in the footsteps of a series of notable female chefs in holding this prestigious title, including the inimitable Dominique Crenn in 2016, as well as Hélène Darroze (2015), Helena Rizzo (2014), Elena Arzak (2013), Nadia Santini (2012) and Anne-Sophie Pic (2011). The selection of this year’s winner also reflects the broad gastronomic geography of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants brand, shining the spotlight on a chef from a relatively little-known culinary country.


Images credit: Suzan Gabrijan & Hisa Franko