European Food Summit - The revolutionary – Rene Redzepi

The revolutionary – Rene Redzepi

Ljubljana, 29. 10. 2021

If anyone, Rene Redzepi really does need an introduction. What can you write about someone who has been the most discussed chef, the most influential chef of the past 18 years? He opened Noma back in 2003, as the most prodigious 26-year-old chef ever, and with it, he didn’t just open a restaurant, he created a whole movement, changed the Nordic restaurant scene, changed the international food scene. For good.

Elements of fine dining we take for granted these days – a good sourdough on the table, a closely-knit community of producers and suppliers, the seasonality and locality axioms, showcasing of the regional bounties, cool natural wine pairing that keeps you on your toes, bare wood instead of white tablecloths, fermentation … We can attribute all of that to Noma and Noma’s immense impact on the food world.

When the New Nordic Food Manifesto came out back in 2004 it felt a lot like a gastronomic equivalent of Dogme 95, Danish filmmaking movement that was born 10 years prior and with which film directors Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg had the aim to "take back power for the directors as artists", as opposed to the studio.

 Redzepi and his adherents were doing something very similar with food world, dropping a bomb with the then radical approach of “back to nature”, back to basics, shedding all fluff and bluff, opening the eyes of the international (and domestic alike) public to rich Nordic produce, be it centuries old Mahogany clams from Faroe islands or moss from the tundra, reindeer offal from Lapland or wild berries from the Arctics.

Scandinavia, all of a sudden, came from a barren land of (perceived) nothing to gastronomic destination and Copenhagen from city famous for mermaid statue to the hottest food city in the world. And that’s the true impact of Noma and power of Rene Redzepi. Sometimes it really does take just one visionary to change the world.

When we talk about Redzepi as world’s most influential chef, it’s not for the live shrimps diners were chasing on the table of the old Noma. It’s not for the naturalistic looking mallard he almost surgically dissects in front of you, every part of it, making you scoop the brains out of the open skull with its own hardened tongue.

Sure, it’s all that and it’s hard to pin-point a restaurant that has managed to stay fresh, hip, young and at the forefront of food revolutions for 18 years as much as Noma has, constantly evolving, constantly pushing further and further, constantly mixing food with social issues and social issues with environmental ones. Yes, it’s all that, but it’s also a laboratory, a think-tank of ideas, a progressive collective of minds, a tightly-knit family, a polygon for young chefs, a creative hub.

Redzepi at mere 43 years, has served as a mentor to some of the most talented chefs of the new generation that have went on to open restaurants across the world, inspiring them to look into their own environment, their own traditions and food traditions and build on them, whether it’s Mexico or Colombia, Australia or Albania.

Wherever his disciples scattered, there was the Noma attitude, Noma approach, Noma impact that is still felt years on.

When Redzepi walked on stage on October 5th in Antwerp to pick up yet another accolade, world’s best restaurant title, just after the restaurant finally received the so long awaited 3rd Michelin star, after a year of uncertainty, of constant lockdowns, travel restrictions and empty tables, the joy wasn’t faked.

Redzepi was back on top, even after the most challenging period in food world ever, proving Noma really is – larger than life.    

Written by: Kaja Sajovic