US loses top spot in World's 50 Best Restaurants rankings

PHOTO: Italian chief Massimo Bottura celebrates next to his wife Lara Gilmord after receiving the Best Restaurant award for his restaurant La Osteria Francescana during the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants awards in Bilbao, Spain, June 19, 2018.PlayAnder Gillenea/AFP/Getty Images
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Bilbao, one of the culinary capitals of the world, hosted the prestigious World's 50 Best Restaurants 2018 unveiling on Tuesday, and American gastronomy was well represented although the U.S. lost the top spot as Eleven Madison Park dropped to fourth place.

For the second time, the Italian restaurant Osteria Francescana won the "Oscars of Gastronomy," with a contemporary and traditional cuisine approved by Pope Francis, who made this restaurant one of his refectory.

Placing second was El Celler de Can Roca in Catalonia and placing third was Mirazur in Southern France. Gaggan in Bangkok rounded out the top five.

PHOTO: Daniel Humm is pictured in the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park Restaurant on Feb., 2013 in New York. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Daniel Humm is pictured in the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park Restaurant on Feb., 2013 in New York.

But above everything else, and as an introduction, William Drew, group editor of World's 50 Best Restaurants insisted on saying goodbye to American food icon and television host Anthony Bourdain, who died tragically earlier this month. Drew called him an "agent provocateur who changed the industry for the better and opened the palate so many people."

PHOTO: Anthony Bourdain speaks about the show Parts Unknown after the show won a Peabody Award in New York, May 19, 2014. Lucas Jackson/Reuters, FILE
Anthony Bourdain speaks about the show "Parts Unknown" after the show won a Peabody Award in New York, May 19, 2014.

Very moved by the loss of Anthony Bourdain, Drew spoke about the presence of so many of Bourdain's friends in the theater, and he shared special thoughts for his family and loved ones in the U.S.

And after saying "au revoir" to the legendary 91-year-old French chef Paul Bocuse, the show resumed.

As feminism spiked early in the year following the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the rise of the #MeToo movement, British chef Clare Smith received the award for the best female chef and gave a speech where she highlighted how "women need to clear the path for the next generation."

It was a panel of more than 1,000 people who voted from a pool of chefs, restaurateurs, travelers and food authors, overseen by 26 chiefs attending this special event.

With restaurant from Lima, Peru, to Melbourne, Australia, the only continent not represented was Africa.

The annual rankings are often criticized for privileging pricey tasting menus over original or authentic gems more travelers are likely to visit.

While receiving the price, Massimo Bottura said that "all together we can make the change," reflecting the inscription of his restaurant in Modena: "We are the Revolution."

PHOTO: A picture taken on July 7, 2016 shows Italian chef Massimo Bottura working in the kitchen of his restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken on July 7, 2016 shows Italian chef Massimo Bottura working in the kitchen of his restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy.