A look back at the last 10 years for The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards

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Since launching in 2002, chef Ferran Adrià's El Bulli restaurant in Spain has topped the World's 50 Best Restaurants list five times.
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Since launching in 2002, chef Ferran Adrià's El Bulli restaurant in Spain has topped the World's 50 Best …

In just a decade, UK-based publication Restaurant magazine has created an international restaurant ranking that exerts an undeniable amount of influence in the gastronomic world.

It was an audacious idea: winnow down millions of restaurants around the world into a single, tidy list that declares the best on the planet that serves as a bucket list for gourmand pilgrimages.

But in 10 years, Restaurant magazine's World's 50 Best Restaurants awards has earned the respect and clout of the food intelligentsia, chefs and restaurateurs alike, lending the ranking an authority that some say rivals that of the centuries-old Michelin star system.

Here's a look back at some of the chefs and restaurants that took the top spot over the years:

2002: El Bulli, Girona Spain
Chef Ferran Adrià
Style of Food: Cutting-edge Spanish

In the inaugural year of The World's 50 Best Restaurants, Spanish chef Ferran Adrià claimed the top spot, a ranking which, it later turns out, he wouldn't relinquish easily.

2003: The French Laundry, Yountville, California
Chef Thomas Keller
Style of food: Contemporary American

Keller would go on to become the Lifetime Achievement winner in 2012. The French Laundry is his flagship restaurant and boasts three Michelin stars.

2004: The French Laundry, Yountville, California

2005: The Fat Duck, Bray, UK
Chef Heston Blumenthal
Style of food: High-tech wizardry

The Fat Duck also holds three Michelin stars.

2006-2009: El Bulli, Girona, Spain
For the next four years, Adrià's El Bulli topped the list to little controversy, as chefs, critics and diners alike heaped hyperbolic praise on the restaurant, spawning what was dubbed as the IAAEBP trend: the "I Ate At El Bulli Piece." The restaurant and the chef earned a reputation of near mythic proportions and bookings to boot: in its final year, two million people tried to snag one of 8,000 seats -- a 0.4 percent admission rate, pointed out Slate.com.

El Bulli closed in 2011, paving the way for another chef to claim bagging rights as the owner of the world's best restaurant.

2010-2012: Noma, Copenhagen
Chef René Redzepi
Style of Food: Seasonal, local, cutting-edge Scandinavian

Given the amount of buzz surrounding this young, dynamic, Danish chef, it's not hard to understand why some pundits predict that Redzepi will fill the vacuum left behind by Adrià, Redzepi's former mentor. For the last three years, Noma has topped the list for being a game-changer in the industry and blazing a trail in New Nordic cuisine and terroir cooking, as much an ode to hyper-local ingredients as it is to the bounty of Danish resources.

Meanwhile, on April 28, Redzepi provided a glimpse into how business at the restaurant has changed since topping the ranking:

"1204 people on the waiting list for this evening. Same day in 2008 (Monday 28th of april) 14 guests in all day. #f**kingfairytale," he tweeted.

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