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World's 100 best restaurants

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Chef Michael Dekker shares the accolades with his young colleagues at Rouge in Calgary. (Andree Lau/CBC)

In an unassuming heritage house in Calgary, the young staff of Rouge restaurant are celebrating one of the food world's biggest honours.

Rouge placed 60th on S. Pellegrino World's 100 Best Restaurants list -- announced on Monday in London -- and is one of only two Canadian eateries to crack the roster.

The other, Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ont., came in 77th.

The best restaurant list, organized by Restaurant Magazine, draws more than 800 panellists from around the world to decide on the winners. This year, Copenhagen's Noma came out on top, bumping perennial award-winner elBulli in Spain.

When one of Rouge's owners got a letter that the restaurant was in the Top 100, he handed it to chef Michael Dekker, thinking it was a joke.

"We got the letter and instantly Googled it and thought it was a scam of some sort that we had to pay," said Dekker, 27.

cgy-halibut.jpgWith phones ringing off the hook and the honour sinking in, Dekker says Rouge's success comes from the energy and creativity of its staff with an average age of 23.

"They live, breathe food. Go home, research new dishes, and then we all as a conglomerate come together and I think we make some pretty stellar food," he told CBC News in an interview.

"We're always looking for something new as well, think outside the box. It's pretty challenging in this industry to keep people excited and give them new things."

Rouge prides itself on local, sustainable ingredients, including produce grown in its backyard garden. (It's a beautiful backdrop for weddings too.)

When asked about his favourite "think outside the box" dish, Dekker points to a main course of smoked elk medallions, raisin bread panade, and sage foam made from sage harvested from last year's garden.

Dekker and his colleagues are stoked about the high-profile recognition.

"We're in the ranks of chefs we all look up to even while we were going to school. We have all their cookbooks. Now we're among them on the list, that's pretty incredible."

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