La Liste celebrates the very best Mediterranean gastronomy at a unique gala event in Monte Carlo
By Leonora Smee
I was honoured to attend this year’s La Liste awards in Monte Carlo, held at the breathtaking Hôtel Hermitage. The grand historic hotel was the idyllic destination for this prestigious event, celebrating the talents of some of the world’s greatest chefs.
La Liste is the global restaurant guide known for its ranking of the Top 1000 World’s Best Restaurants, and the event celebrated the very best culinary talent across the Mediterranean with the La Liste Mediterranean Special Awards 2023. The awards highlighted the gastronomy of the 20 countries bordering the Mediterranean and its islands, providing a snapshot of the food heritage of this diverse coastline.
The glittering event saw Monégasques Royalty mix with culinary excellence. From the delicious Dom Perigon Champagne to the endless truffles, it really was an evening to remember.
At the gala dinner, beginning with the presentation of the La Liste Mediterranean Special Awards by Top Chef’s Stéphane Rotenberg, speeches were given by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco and Alain Ducasse, after the assembled guests had been treated to a spine-tingling acapella opera performance. The dinner menu was created by an incredible selection of talent from four of the world’s best chefs, all of whom trained in the kitchen of Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse, showcasing the Riviera’s very best produce: Emmanuel Pilon, chef at Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse since June 2022; Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Italy; Clare Smyth of Core by Clare Smyth in the UK; and French pastry chef Jessica Préalpato.
Alain Ducasse received the La Liste Award of Honor for Monaco’s flagship restaurant Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse, alongside a retrospective of 35 years of his culinary creativity. The chef accepted the prize on stage in the presence of 25 students who continue his legacy of Mediterranean cuisine in France and abroad.
“Food has the power to unite us more than ever before,” said Philippe Faure, President and Founder of La Liste. “While the Mediterranean region is vast and diverse, both geographically and culturally, we can all come together at the table.” As we all departed into the night, I couldn’t help but think that never had truer words been spoken.
Special Awards for La Liste Mediterranean 2023:
- INNOVATION AWARD: Greek brothers Thomas & Giorgos Douzis of the Ergon Group have made it their mission to promote Greek gastronomy and become leading global ambassadors for high quality Greek food and culinary culture. Their Ergon delicatessens sell premium Greek products across 23 locations in Greece, Cyprus, the UK, and Qatar. In 2019, after a decade in business, they opened boutique hotel Ergon House Athens.
- NEW GASTRONOMIC DESTINATION AWARD: Monaco may be small in size but it is a giant in terms of gastronomic stature. The concentration of restaurants here is unmatched, and the choice is unbeatable – from fine dining to casual concepts, international party hotspots, and authentic regional restaurants.
- GAME CHANGER AWARD: Chef Nadia Sammut is a culinary visionary changing the way we think about food, and the first gluten-free chef to achieve international recognition. Rather than creating ‘free-from” dishes, Sammut makes food that everyone can eat, which is also healthy and good for the planet.
- ETHICAL & SUSTAINABILITY AWARD: Chef Mélanie Serre pays tribute to nature at restaurant Elsa in Monaco, with a commitment to the seasons, local produce and short supply chains.
- COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD: La Liste recognised the Turkish Solidarity Chefs movement to provide emergency aid to the victims of the Turkey/Syria earthquake. Many chefs have worked tirelessly to help the more than 20 million earthquake victims, and La Liste presented the Community Spirit Award on stage to chef Fatih Tutak from Turk restaurant in Istanbul and Gökem Sözen, founder of Gastromasa conference, on behalf of them all during this difficult time.
- ARTISAN & AUTHENTICITY AWARD: Three restaurants were awarded for upholding provenance and heritage of the highest standards including Hostellerie Jerôme in La Turbie, France, by local celebrity chef Bruno Cirino; Dar El Jeld in Tunis, Tunisia; and Tenuta Nannina in Penta di Fisciano, Italy, helmed by chef Rocco Iannone.
- NEW ARRIVALS AWARD: Restaurant Il Porticciolo from executive chef Riccardo Canella at the prestigious Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice; and Pharaoh in Athens, a natural wine and wood-fired food concept from four founders, travel and food editor Fotis Vallatos, chef Manolis Papoutsakis, Greek opera singer Dimitris Platanias, and wine expert Perry Panagiotakopoulos, were selected as the winners of this award category.
- NEW TALENTS OF THE YEAR: Chef Raz Rahav for OCD in Tel Aviv; Vicky Sevilla, chef at Arrels in Sagunto, Valencia, Spain; Ana Grgić Tomić, executive chef at Zinfandel’s and Le Bistro at the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel, Croatia; and chef Hugues Mbenda who named his Marseille restaurant KIN after the city of his birth, Kinshasa.
- HIDDEN GEMS AWARD: Meshek Barzilay from chef Neria Kalantarov in Tel Aviv who champions vegan cuisine; Ca Na Tonneta from sisters Maria and Teresa Solivellas in Mallorca, Spain; Brût in Hrajel, Lebanon from chef patron Youssef Akiki; Guzé Bistro in Valletta, Malta, from chef Mark Dimech and owner Joseph Cauchi; chef Sarah Vuk Brajko‘s Piran restaurant La Bottega dei Sapori, in Slovenia; Giancarlo Zigante of specialty truffle restaurant Zigante, Croatia; chef Rabah Ourrad of Mim in Algiers, Algeria; Khufu’s, from the Pier 88 Group founded by Giovanni Bolandrini, with a spectacular view of the Giza pyramids; restaurant Alaf, the culinary wonderland of chef Deniz Temel in Istanbul, Turkey.
- BONUS AWARDS: A series of bonus awards saw Le Restaurant des Rois in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, named Best Terrace; La Chèvre d’Or, at the top of Eze-village in France was commended for Best Sea View; the crown for Best Party Spot went to Scorpios in Mykonos, Greece; and Nammos, also in Mykonos, was named Most Glamorous Restaurant.