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19 April 2014

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Starter for 10: interview with René Redzepi

(menu)

rene redzepi noma 2011 - Ren_Redzepi_1.jpgGreat Dane René Redzepi, of World’s Best Restaurant Noma, came to town last week to take part in Taste of London. He found time to tell us more about himself, and revealed that he’s a big hippy, appreciating the simple things in life, preaching peace in the kitchen and running his team as one big happy family.

Why do you think Noma has been so successful?

I think that we entered a zeitgeist which had just started of more localised and natural produce. Plus, we have a talent for cooking it in a way that the meal only belongs to us.

What do you think about the Nordic-style restaurants and the foraging trend that you seem to have inspired over here?

It’s amazing to hear. I think that good food can happen anywhere in the world and it’s great that people can explore their own backyard. I don’t consider myself as an ambassador for those trends – in the kitchen, you don’t really feel any sense of influence.

What are the Danes like in the kitchen?

They are calm. In London, the competitiveness is staggering. It forces people to be on edge and constantly push themselves. We’re more provincial in that sense. Friction and fights happen anywhere there’s pressure and big expectations. But the key is to clear the air and figure out how not to do it again.

Is there anything from Scandinavia that you wouldn’t serve on the menu at Noma?

In terms of raw ingredients, I haven’t found it yet – we’ve even served beaver.

What’s the one kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without?

A knife. I could live without equipment like blenders if I had to, but a knife is the soul of cooking.

If you hadn’t have been a chef, what would you have been?

A gardener, because working with plants and living your life outdoors is just so amazing – you put seeds in the ground and you harvest your food. It’s honest work and I love that.

What’s your food heaven?

There’s no food that I really hate. The only thing I dislike is food that’s pretentious and doesn’t feel honest. I’ll eat everything, everywhere, as long as it feels genuine and unpretentious and has commitment behind it.

Where do you like to eat out in London?

Last night I was at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley and the food was so delicious. I also love St John.

What’s your earliest food memory?

The smell of roasting chestnuts in Macedonia. My father is from Macedonia so he would make them in the autumn.

What’s been your proudest moment?

The proudest thing for me is our kitchen: the way we’ve developed it and the progress we’ve made. Accolades are important for all of us but it’s the kitchen and the team that are my proudest achievements. The saddest thing for me would be to have so much success and be alone – it wouldn’t be worth it. I’m happy we have such a strong team who have all been there since day one. It feels much more special.

Interview by Nicky Evans, News and Online Editor
[email protected]

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