Rene Redzepi: Impossibilities and Possibilities, Part 2

The famous chef reflects on what it’s like to be a ‘cool chef’ and much more
Rene Redzepi

Rene Redzepi

Chef Rene Redzepi.

This is the second in a two-part interview with chef Rene Redzepi. You can find the first here.

What is the next stage in this exploration process?
It is going to discuss seasonality and how you deal with it throughout the year. We now believe that there are three main ingredient flows in our region. The first one is in our oceans during the cold months from January to April, the second is a green flow of vegetables and anything coming from the plant kingdom from May to August, and the third is in the forests or wilderness from September to December. This is where we see abundance of different ingredients during the year and this is what I feel we should be focusing on cooking in those periods.

Will that change the menu format?
It will change it by season quite dramatically from going from fish and shellfish to vegetarian and then focused on more game meats and wild fruits. These three seasons and how you can eat during these will be represented on the menu. Once you realize that, wow! It makes sense to cook like that you develop a more interesting perspective on seasonality for this region as this is what available here. Once you come to that realization there is no going back and I thought about this and now we have to change into becoming a part of that process. This is what we have been working on for the past three years.

Your critics say that this shift is a way of getting publicity.
Publicity you can get in so many ways, and for us we are really lucky in that aspect. We didn't have to change our restaurant to get that publicity. We have more exposure than ever before and I would say it's actually a huge risk for us to change in this way.

Are you apprehensive about taking on this risk?
It would be easy to stay put instead of taking on this huge risk and continue doing what we are doing now and keep the status quo. We can just move forward and have MAD grow and we have lots of other things to build on while still pushing ahead. We are actually going to close everything and almost start again in a new space, with new rhythms and a new soul.

As a father with a young family are you scared about risking your future?
I am very scared because we are going to risk everything. In reality we are risking a lot to pursue this, and when I look at my wife I feel this one is going to be a big one, almost like starting anew. Of course, honestly it is a big decision. It is easier to keep going here, renovating, building and expanding and continuing our research. Once you know that it is the right way to move forward even if it's risky you have to go with it. If we actually nail it, it's going to be amazing.

What is planned for this present space of Noma?
We don't really know, but we are probably going to let it go.

When do you begin construction at the new location?

Right now it's still that derelict building and we are in the process of going through the last touches with the architect and the authorities. In this project we are not going to be as green and inexperienced as our first project but we are never the less taking away the last six or seven years of growth and development.

The new project will be a restaurant on a farm?
It will be a city farm, based in seasonality and cooking meals based on that aspect during the year. The same quality and standards will be maintained while we cook based on the seasons. We will cook with ingredients from the ocean and then from the plant kingdom, where guests will not miss a single bite of protein, and then focus on the wild food in the next season. I think personally that we will become much better than what we are now.

You do realize that whatever path you choose, many others will follow you all over the world? Do you have a sense of responsibility?
Right now yes people will follow and of course there is a realization about that. I feel we are very good in communicating our ideas and expressing what is going on and we try not to keep anything secret. I think the future is sharing and building of small networks and communities that in turn belong to a larger community. We are part of a community, people come to MAD and become friends, become connected in a big community of chefs that are pushing forward and trying to be there for each other. And truly we are really doing this here.

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