• The World's 50 Best Restaurants

Chefs’ Choice Award 2015

Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York

Whether it’s through his famous whole-roasted chicken with foie gras and black truffle at the NoMad Hotel or his signature lavender honey duck at Eleven Madison Park, Swiss chef Daniel Humm has made an indelible mark on New York’s dining scene. Since moving to the US in 2003 to work as executive chef at Campton Place in San Francisco, Humm has successfully created and honed an original cuisine; the cooking at Eleven Madison Park and NoMad is influenced by his native Europe, but the menus are heavily New York-focused.

From cooking celery root in a pig’s bladder to serving bars of chocolate made from different animal milks and asking guests to guess which is which, Humm plays with the boundaries of modern cooking and is forever on the lookout for creative new ways to delight his customers.

Part of his appeal is a desire to go above and beyond the usual duties of a chef, creating bespoke dishes according to the needs and wants of individual diners. One guest cried with joy when Humm served him a Cuban sandwich in homage to his late father, and everyone who eats at Eleven Madison Park has a different story of surprise courses and off-menu treats.

While Humm’s culinary talent shines through in his food, his chemistry with business partner Will Guidara adds a special something that helps set their co-created dining experiences apart. Humm and Guidara met a decade ago while both working separately for legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer, from whose Union Square Hospitality Group they eventually bought the restaurant in 2011. While some chefs would rather go it alone and take all the glory of leading a successful restaurant, Humm says he’s more than happy to share the spotlight if it means the restaurant is twice as good.

Those who have worked with Humm will testify to his personable demeanour. Undoubtedly his warm and playful character, combined with his enormous talent in the kitchen, are among the reasons his peers voted him this year’s Chefs’ Choice Award winner.

Warm-natured Swiss chef wows diners with New York-inspired food

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    As a tireless champion of Brazilian food, Alex Atala has helped put his country’s cuisine on the gastronomic map in a way few would have believed possible as recently as a decade ago. The club-DJ-turned-chef also plays the role of explorer and cultural ambassador by delving deep into the Amazon, aided by scientists and anthropologists, to discover lost ingredients and bring them to his dining room tables.

  • 2013 - Grant Achatz – Alinea

    Chef-patron Grant Achatz has striven to ensure his cooking is no less exalted, work that has seen him pick up this year’s Chefs’ Choice Award. An amazing achievement for an inspirational chef.

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  • 2011 - Massimo Bottura – Osteria Francescana

    This super-dynamic Italian successfully combines immense respect for Italian culinary traditions with an avant-garde ‘no rules’ approach, resulting in a stunning dining experience at his Modena restaurant, Osteria Francescana. Passionate, committed, gregarious and creatively curious, Bottura was a hugely popular Chefs’ Choice winner in 2011.

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  • 2009 - René Redzepi – Noma

    The maverick Dane has not only led the creation and recognition of an entire region’s culinary identity in the form of the ‘New Nordic’ movement, but he has changed the way many of the world’s leading restaurants connect with their geographical surroundings. Redzepi’s Chefs’ Choice award immediately preceded Noma’s hat-trick of years topping The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

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  • 2008 and 2012 - Andoni Luis Aduriz – Mugaritz

    Aduriz is a chef with a deeply philosophical approach to food and his restaurant, Mugaritz in Spain’s Basque country, is home to ingenious experimentation that consistently challenges diners’ perceptions and expectations. The determination with which Andoni and his team rebuilt the restaurant after a devastating fire in 2010 was also recognised in this award.

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  • 2007 and 2010 - Heston Blumenthal – The Fat Duck

    The genius behind former world number one The Fat Duck and, more recently, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal helped to reinvent contemporary cuisine. The unique dining experience at The Fat Duck - full of technical feats but, most of all, delicious and great fun – is testament to Heston’s unique vision. Not only a British hero, but a global chef icon.

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  • 2006 - Pierre Gagnaire – Maison Gagnaire

    The French culinary magician picked up the inaugural Chefs’ Choice award, reflecting his many years in the upper echelons of the list. The multiple-Michelin- starred Gagnaire’s approach to cooking combines a touch of the poetic with dashes of simplicity, with the intricate dishes at his flagship on Paris’ rue Balzac treated as mini art forms.

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