René Redzepi’s restaurant Noma has taken the culinary world by storm – here we have a quick chat with him about restaurant awards, Danish cooking and why despite being hailed as the best he is missing that third Michelin star…
How did topping The World’s 50 Best Restaurants change your life?
It hasn’t really changed me but the impact on the restaurant has just been incredible. People have freaked out more perhaps because we’re based somewhere that was considered the underdog of world gastronomy. I’m a Muslim immigrant living in Denmark. If someone a few years ago had said that we would have been voted the top spot it would have been a good joke.
How hard is it to get a table at Noma these days?
We were quite busy after making no.3 in the list we were pretty full but we weren’t 100% like we are today. Now we could be 3000% full if we had the capacity. We now only take bookings three months in advance and open another month in the book on the first of each month. So for example on October 1st we open up the month of January. Then, a week later, January is booked out for lunch and dinner.
What was the restaurant scene like in Copenhagen before Noma came along?
Before our success it was impossible for anyone to dream that a restaurant in Denmark could be considered to be one of the most important in the world and that it would be doing so by using cauliflower, lingonberries and sorrel – ingredients that perhaps don’t sound like they belong in high gastronomy and were very much a part of our culture. Before that the menu of every serious Danish restaurant had to have sautéed foie gras or foie gras terrine on it alongside turbot or soul and probably pigeon.
Are you proud of the way Noma has inspired so many other restaurants?
I really don’t think that they’re all doing the same thing because that makes it sound like they are copying the dishes. I suppose we share a common train of thought and I’m proud of that – really proud. In general I think it’s something you now see at any top restaurant in the Nordic region. I think that now if you’re not somehow incorporating nature into your menu and in close contact with your suppliers you’re not even considered serious. It’s now become a way of being serious in cooking. So most chefs even though they might still be very French in terms of the culture of a dish, the ingredients of that have now changed, shifted.
Are you surprised that Michelin has yet to award Noma three Michelin stars (it still has only two) despite being voted the world’s best restaurant?
What I think about Michelin is that they take their time more. It is a very new thing that’s happening here. I think before they go ahead and give their ultimate recommendation to any restaurant they need to see the full maturity of it. Whereas with the 50 Best they look react to movements and trends much more quickly.