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RESTAURANT

Italian restaurant crowned the best in the world

Italy's "Osteria Francescana" was crowned world's best restaurant of 2016 at an awards ceremony in New York on Monday, the first Italian establishment to win the annual accolade.

Italian restaurant crowned the best in the world
Massimo Bottura's "Osteria Francescana" in Modena has been named the best restaurant in the world. Photo: Bryan Bedder/AFP

Run by chef Massimo Bottura, “Osteria Francescana” pipped last year's winner, Spain's “El Celler de Can Roca,” in the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards, after coming second in 2015.

The Italian chef, whose world-famous restaurant in Modena came number three in 2013 and 2014, was emotional in accepting his award.

“I want to thank everyone because it's been so hard, our job is all about art work,” an ecstatic Bottura told the ceremony. “It's all about our work, in the kitchen everyday to work and succeed.”

With Spain's “El Celler de Can Roca” knocked down to second place, the third spot went to New York's “Eleven Madison Park.”

The top 10 was rounded out by restaurants in Peru, Denmark – former four-time winner “Noma” – France, Spain, Japan and Austria.

Three French chefs won individual honors, with Alain Passard of Arpege given a lifetime achievement award, French-born Dominique Crenn named best female chef and Pierre Herme best pastry chef.

The accolades came after critics complained last year that the system was open to abuse since the jury do not have to offer physical evidence of having actually visited any particular restaurant.

The bulk of those complaints came from France, which in 2016 made it into the top 10 for the first time in three years but has never managed to win first prize.

The board praised Bottura for his twists on traditional ingredients and his “Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano” in particular.

Half in Europe

The awards said he crafted the world-famous cheese into “forms and textures most diners will never have previously experienced.”

“The chef's ambitious creations perfectly balance the demands of honouring heritage while embracing modernity,” the board added.

They praised his menu of “deliciously executed classics” such as tagliatelle with hand-chopped ragu and risotto cooked with veal jus.

The 2016 list included restaurants in 23 countries on six continents – but half were in Europe. Asia and the United States each had six in the top 50, while South America and Scandinavia each had five.

Spain had seven restaurants on the list, including three in the top 10.

The awards, run by trade magazine Restaurant, began in 2002 and have become a reference for the world's foodies, but were hit last year by allegations of cosy deals between restaurants and jury members.

The contest is run by British media company William Reed, and criticism has focused on the methodology used to select the best restaurants.

Its jury is made up of 972 experts, including food writers, chefs, restaurant owners and gourmets. Members list their choices in order of preference, based on where they have eaten in the past 18 months.

There is no pre-determined checklist of criteria, but there are strict voting rules.

In the face of complaints, the organizers say consultancy firm Deloitte oversees voting, to ensure the “integrity and authenticity” of the process.

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ITALY

Ten-man Italy get Ventura-era off to winning start

Italy, reduced to 10-men, got their 2018 World Cup qualifying off to an impressive start by defeating Israel 3-1 in-front of a sold-out Sammy Offer stadium in Haifa on Monday.

Ten-man Italy get Ventura-era off to winning start
Italy triumphed despite bein down to 10-men. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP

The victory marked new Italian manager Giampiero Ventura's first win as Azzurri boss.
   
He said: “I won't say our performance was perfect, as we conceded that goal similar to the one we let in against France (in last week's friendly).”
   
The 68-year-old manager added: “We worked as a team, suffered as a team and won as a team.”
   
Italy stunned the home crowd when Shandong Luneng forward Graziano Pelle tapped in a goal past helpless Israeli keeper Dudu Goresh in the 14th minute.
   
In the 31st minute, Italy won a controversial penalty when Israeli defenderBen Bitton knocked Giacomo Bonaventura to the ground.
   
Antonio Candreva converted the penalty.
   
After Italy dominated possession in the first 35 minutes, Israeli winger Tal Ben Haim scored a beautiful chip to give Israel a fighting chance.
   
Israel started the second half full of confidence and threatened Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon several times.
   
Israel were given renewed hope when Italy were reduced to 10 men in the 55th minute, veteran defender Girgio Chiellini picking up his second yellow card of the evening.
   
It was the Italian defender's first red card in 90 appearances for the Azzurri.
   
The sending off revitalised the Israeli crowd and brought hope that they could cause a huge upset.
   
Israel continued to attack before an Italian fast break in the 83rd minutesealed the deal when Ciro Immobile scored to give the visitors a decisive lead.
   
Immobile, 26, looked ahead to next month's clash with Spain, said: “We're in a complicated group and unfortunately only the top team goes through. These trips can be complicated, but we got there and have the full three points.
   
“The fans need to keep cheering us on the way they did during the Euros and we'll give our all to reach the World Cup. It's an honour to play with the Italy jersey.”
   
Despite the disappointing result, Israel captain Eran Zahavi said he was proud of the performance.
   
“I think maybe we deserved a little more in this game .”We had a brave National Team that took risks and didn't give up.”
   
Former Southampton forward Pelle, who also scored against France last Thursday, congratulated his teammates on a fantastic result despite being down to 10-men.
   
“As usual, Italy are always ready when the game actually counts for something. We had an extra few days to work with the coach and his wonderful staff.
   
“We knew that we had to remain fully concentrated, as the fans fired up the hosts and it is a tough arena to play in, but we proved we fight to the end even a man down.”
   
In the next batch of qualifiers in October Italy tackle Spain in Turin while Israel travel to Skopje to face Macedonia.

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