Rene Redzepi and Trash Cooking

Expanding our notions of the edible

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By David Hammond

 An old man sits collecting stamps, inn a room all filled with Chinese lamps.

He saves what others throw away; he says that he'll be rich someday.

"Frank Sinatra," Cake

 

Last weekend, I had a brief audience with Rene Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen. For the years 2010-2012, he operated what Pellegrino deemed "The Best Restaurant in the World."

I suspect that to Redzepi, such accolades, though good for business, are largely meaningless. And even the business side of Noma is of little interest to him: he admitted that his restaurant is not actually profitable, which is baffling, amazing, incomprehensible (at least to me).

Regarding Redzepi himself, I have rarely met a more down-to-earth chef, warm, generous with his time, and articulate, speaking, as do chefs like Achatz at Alinea, with an artist's intensity of vision and commitment.

 As I was waiting to speak with Redzepi, I read in his Journal that "All ingredients have the same worth."  Of course, ingredients have different values, but that's determined by the market, and one cannot say that truffle is a more worthy ingredient than a tomato. As he explained to me, "It's the cook's job to make such foods equally delicious. Obviously, when you have a steak, and you put that on the grill, it's immediate pleasure. With other ingredients, you have to work; you have to be more imaginative."

His book Noma Recipes is full of ingredients that are available in most woodland areas and that likely would not be considered food: pine needles, various grasses, black ants.

 

What I admire most about Redzepi – as well as chefs like Cantu at Moto and Regan at Elizabeth – is that they're expanding our notions of the edible by serving some things that may make people scratch their heads and think, "Gee, I didn't know you could eat that, but it's not bad."

Now, the irony, of course, is that a dinner at Noma – even if it contains "trash" – is about $500/person with wine pairing.

I would hazard, though, that a dinner prepared by Redzepi and his crew is probably going to be much more memorable and meaningful than five dinners you might have at $100. I strongly suspect he blows minds regularly.

 

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Hire Local for FREE!

Post help wanted ads for FREE on the our local online job board.

Click here to place your ad

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassified
Photo storeContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad