Much happened in the 2010s in the culinary world. It started with the end of Adrià’s reign on gastronomy, but it wasn’t before he delivered a whole cast of Bullinianos to the world. Many of these ex-El Bulli chefs would go on to dictate the post-Adrià era from all pockets of the globe, from Copenhagen to Bangkok, from Modena to Girona.
Sure, we continued to see spherification and foams, but the 2010s proved to be much more than that. There was awe-inspiring creativity on large scales, the rise of chefs as ambassadors for social change, the democratisation of deliciousness; these dishes were served up in white-tablecloth establishments, in noodle bars, and even in pots and pans for thousands in the middle of disaster-struck towns.
In selecting the ten greatest dishes of the decade, it was inevitable also to explore the creators behind each. Here, discover our list of the dishes along with the chefs, that represent every year from 2010 to 2019.
The 10 Greatest Dishes of the Decade 2010-2019
1. 2010: The Spherical Olives, El Bulli, Ferran Adrià
We start the decade paying homage to Ferran Adrià. This was the year just before he closed the legendary El Bulli for good. The spherified olives represented one of the many revolutionary techniques created by Adrià, that saw copycat recipes all over, and continues to influence some of the greatest chefs in the world even today.
2. 2011: The Hen and the Egg, Noma, Rene Redzepi
Noma won Best Restaurant in the World, the second time this year, continuing the winning streak the following year and once again, in 2014. The Hen and the Egg was a DIY dish where the diners were instructed to cook a wild duck egg in a pan at the table. According to the Wall Street Journal it was made in a way so that, "A hundred tiny things have been orchestrated to ensure that you will be eating the best fried egg of your life."
3. 2012: Hot Potato, Cold Potato, Alinea, Grant Achatz
A dish that stood the test of time, remaining unchanged for years on the menu at Grant Achatz’s Chicago restaurant Alinea, Hot Potato Cold Potato was a sensorial experience that nobody could stop talking about. It represented Achatz's style of cooking perfectly - it was about the humble potato, a play on the diner's emotions and senses by pairing hot with cold, turning familiar flavours on their head. It was the year Achatz, the chef who had once lost his sense of taste from tongue cancer, was officially back: Alinea was the only restaurant in Chicago to be given 3 Michelin stars, his new concept restaurant Next was in full swing (tickets for the El Bulli-inspired menu at Next raised over $275,000 for charity in just two days) along with the bar Aviary shaking up the world of cocktail-making.
4. 2013: Mandala, (as part of 'El Somni'), El Celler de Can Roca, Roca brothers
The Roca brothers' masterpiece of a lifetime, El Somni, came out this year. Joan Roca describes El Somni, the gastro-opera in 12-courses, as “the most thrilling creative challenge we [Roca brothers] ever dreamt about.” It was one that engaged 50 artists and cultural figures from different disciplines for the project, including scientist Harold McGee and painter Miquel Barceló, in order “to take sensoriality to its limits".
The ‘Mandala’ of flowers was a dish inspired by Hindu opera director Zubin Mehta, representing “a flavour combination built up in harmony, so as to connect and go on weaving different textures, flavours, and aromas in a universal pattern that reminds us of the force and beauty of humanity in harmony and connection,” according to Roca.
5. 2014: Pork Bao, Momofuku, David Chang
Years of success of the Momofuku chain of restaurants led to David Chang officially inducted into James Beard's Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America, in 2014. His pork bao and ramen were first introduced to us the decade prior in 2004 via Momofuku Noodle Bar, and was undoubtedly behind the bao and ramen trend that spread all over the world in succeeding years.
6. 2015: Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart, Osteria Francescana, Massimo Bottura
Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart is just like Bottura himself - it was originally created when one of the restaurant staff accidentally let go of a dessert plate, but Bottura saw this as an opportunity rather than a mistake - he obsessively seeks perfection, but is ready to break all the rules, the Italian traditions.
And 2015 was Bottura's year. It was the year that coincided with the Milan Expo: "Feeding the Planet", and with the world's eyes on Italy, he took the charge with the opening of the soup kitchen, Refettorio Ambrosiano in the city. What was meant to be a pop-up was the precursor for his cultural foundation Food for Soul, and, in 2016, Osteria Francescana was crowned Best Restaurant in the World.
7. 2016: Lick It Up, Gaggan, Gaggan Anand
Gaggan comes up on top, winning Best Restaurant in Asia this year, with his playful contemporary Indian food represented entirely by emoticons on the menu. Out of the 25 emoji dishes, it was Lick it Up that remained most memorable: a mix of different strips of mushroom, pea and shaved truffles were placed on a plate that the diner had to lick off, to the tune of Kiss' song of the same name.
8. 2017: Duck with Daikon and Plum, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm
The most talked about duck dish in the world was Daniel Humm's roast duck at 2017's Best Restaurant in the World, Eleven Madison Park. It was the 'only dish on the menu that hasn't changed since 2006', according to the team, and one whose story goes back to the days when Humm was working at Le Pont de Brent in Switzerland with his mentor Gérard Rabaey. EMP even posted a video on their Instagram account on how it was made - check it out here.
9. 2018: Food aid for Hurricane Maria, Jose Andrés
In 2018, Jose Andrés was named a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for his humanitarian work. It wasn't the first time Andrés was recognised for his charity work, but it was Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria that put the chef on everyone's lips. At the humanitarian disaster of September 2017, Andrés and his team at World Central Kitchen were able to mobilise over 20,000 volunteers and feed over 3.7 million meals over nine months. For that, the dish of this year is not just one. It's every single sandwich, bowl of soup, plate of casserole, or veggie salad that he and the volunteers gathered, cooked, and fed to the people.
10. 2019: Tartellette d'Amanite des Césars, Mirazur, Mauro Colagreco
A dish highlighting the variety of Mediterranean mushrooms that according to Colagreco, would have been one of the delicacies at the table of Ceasar. The Tartellette d'Amanite des Césars is made of mushrooms in duxelles and shavings, with a cream of 36-month-aged Grana Padano cheese.
We close the decade with this dish, a true example of the borderless cuisine that has come to light in recent years, with chefs like Colagreco taking the lead on the world stage. 2019 saw the Argentinian-Italian chef sweeping up the awards such as Best Restaurant in the World, and Best Chef in the World. As the first non-French chef in France to receive three Michelin stars this year, his message has always been clear: “cuisine is able to close all kinds of borders.”