Rene Redzepi: Impossibilities and Possibilities, Part 2

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

Chef Rene Redzepi.

Are you going to continue organizing the MAD event, as you took a gap this year?
We will and one of the things that people don't realize is that it is hard to source money for it. In order for us to be free and not have logos everywhere we don't have sponsors. We do apply for grants all the time and have dinners with which we hope to fund this. We have built up a network of people that donate, and that's how we do it. We do have individual projects like our Yale project, the wild food projects that get individual grants and get funded for three to five years but that whole budget is separate and not flowing into the organization. Even if the MAD organization disappeared tomorrow, the MAD institute with Yale will still be viable and funded.

What is the next dream?
To have one more child! I have three girls.

Are any of them interested in the kitchen?
Not yet, though they love to eat and be here to see what's going on. They spend every Saturday here and sometimes my oldest daughter likes to set the napkins in the dining room. Who knows maybe one of my kids will find their own inspiration and like to join the family business. I will not push them but if it happens naturally I will open the doors.

You went to Japan this year and next year it's Australia. What is behind this urge to explore?
That actually happened after I had children because my wife and I are a mixed bunch so to speak. Even though we are both white she is from a Jewish background and I come from a Muslim background, which is a strange mix in Europe. I just want to show my kids something about the world and let them experience other cultures and ways of looking at things. These are things I want to do myself as well as I still have the same desire as when I was eighteen and wanted to travel and learn. The difference is now I have three kids and a restaurant so I decided that now all of us could go together.

There are a total of fifteen children traveling this time to Noma Australia. Any team member with children and spouses has the opportunity to take them along. All the children will go to public school while we are there; all they need is a uniform and books. We did that in Noma Japan as well and the kids loved it. Now my kids speak fluent English after this experience and it was extraordinary to see them grow.

Do misconceptions about you bother you?
No, now I am 37 years old and I just keep going, misconceptions will clear out to be replaced by more and so on.

Does the elusive third Michelin star rankle, or are you content with the status quo?
I am not content in the sense that I feel we can go far for reasons that are natural to us and not just for the Michelin guide.

To be truthful any chef who says it doesn't bother him is not being honest. The young chefs who are growing up now will probably not care as much but we still grew up in a very traditional environment and there was only one guide, the Michelin. It was the supreme thing to be in and so I care but I do not care to the point that I want to change anything in my professional life or my private life to go the extra mile to get it.

What about the 50 Best Restaurants list and the controversy surrounding it?
I think it's a great thing and they changed gastronomy worldwide. When they came on board the whole world opened up and so many restaurants from all over the world came into the mix. Yes you can criticize it and there are a lot of things to criticize about it but I try not to take it seriously. I just see it as a big party that has helped fill our restaurants and has changed our region in terms of opportunities for restauranteurs. Of course no one seriously believes that they are the best or if there can be one that is the best. Despite all the controversy I don't think it's ever going to go away. The more talk about it the more it's going to keep growing and in a sense all the detractors are making it bigger.

Related

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