a legend returns to copenhagen
Fifteen years ago, René Redzepi entered the global conversation as one of the most innovative chefs on the planet. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a restaurateur with more slavish devotees than the Dane of Eastern European descent. The buzz began soon after he opened Noma in 2003 on the Copenhagen waterfront, with a focus on Nordic cuisine and hyper-seasonality. Noma topped Restaurant magazine’s best restaurant in the world list four times between 2010 and 2014 and Redzepi picked up two Michelin stars.
His fanbase followed him to pop-ups in Australia, Japan and — most recently — Tulum, Mexico, where he and his cooks investigated both common and obscure local ingredients and dishes and reinterpreted them. There’s an earnest curiosity and willingness to learn at play here — and that’s what we love. Unlike most star chefs, he also manages to balance ego with a certain Scandinavian humility, which is why his staff stays with him so long. Last year, upon closing Noma’s old location in a warehouse, he announced four new partners, among them Gambian dishwasher Ali Sonko, with whom he had worked for more than a decade.
At the time of closing, a new, more ambitious location was already in the works. In mid-February, it opened. A complex of seven interconnected rooms, Noma has its own garden, and dedicated rooms for meat, fish and fermentation. There are, unsurprisingly, also quarters for the staff. The cost was significant, says Redzepi, but the first ten weeks have already been booked out, within a few hours (last November).