Rene Redzepi, A Culinary Terroirist

It is pretty awesome that the NYPL continues to bring in chefs like Ferran Adria, Dan Barber, and now, David Chang and Rene Redzepi.  For my readers who are not whores to the culinary world, you should know that Rene Redzepi is the executive chef of Copenhagen's Noma.  Noma recently displaced El Bulli on San Pellegrino's Best 50 restaurants, ending Ferran Adria's half-decade run as the king of the hill.  You now know exactly what I knew prior to attending this event.

Given that I now have exactly one hour and twenty minutes worth of listening to him speak, I think we can all agree that I can now speak with great authority on who he is.  After all, I am a blogger.

Rene Redzepi was the test tube baby of Ferran Adria's innovation, Thomas Keller's execution and specks of Dan Barber's vision and raconteurism.  I'll save you a google search raconteurism... not a word.

As far as raconteurism goes, a great thread that I would put here if I were a more talented writer is how Rene crossed paths with Grant Achatz at El Bulli.  Grant was already at French Laundry and introduced Rene to the food of Thomas Keller via The French Laundry Cookbook.  He later helped Rene obtain a stage at The French Laundry.  Since I like to make snap judgements based on the tiniest amounts of data, I am quite confident that I could take this and spin a tale of how both chefs were influenced in reverse order and how that is completely apparent in their cuisine.

As I am but a hack, I will simply say that Rene staged at both, so obviously they are his parents.  Also he said something about how Keller and Adria represent the continuum of cookery.  Well, I made that up, partially based on what he said.  But, I don't think fact is especially important.

Oh sure, there are other commonalities, like his sense of humor.  Consider the Noma dish, 'Hen and The Egg'.  A playful dish where you receive instructions that include a timer, a number of ingredients including an egg, hay oil, various weeds/green and flowers.  A 320ºC (approximately the temperature of the sun) cast iron skillet is put in front of you nestled in wet hay.  You are in charge of frying the egg according to the timer, and then putting the ingredients in the pan.

Where is the hen?

As Rene said:
"Somehow, we have become the chicken".
I don't know about you, but I see Keller's playfulness with Adria's theatrics.  Not to mention the implication of eating your own unborn child is priceless.  Mmmmm... fetal-cannibalism.

The Danbarberism in Rene Redzepi is a little more abstract.  It comes from his neo-hippy locavorism combined with his ability to break into crazy-engaging storytelling.   I am sure he (and others) will be offended by the Dan Barber comparison.  Since I have now written several sentences about Rene, it should be clear that I am a subject-matter expert on all things Redzepi.

When Rene and I say he cooks local, we mean all ingredients have to be found in Denmark.  I don't know if you know this, but Denmark is the size of your local Walmart.  This is a driving philosophy that I think really helps us get creative.   This is like a 256 byte programming contest, or writing a novel without the letter e.

Doesn't sound that bad?  No Black Pepper, Bitches.

To accept that constraint means adapting to this limitation. Our approach for that is to not only rely on local farmers but to forage directly from our diverse and grand native Danish soil. As we spoke to the audience at NYPL, we could see people's minds slowly wrap around the idea that, truthfully, without foraging we have access to a very small amount of this planet's bountiful, edible produce. When was the last time you had Sea Coriander?

All chefs at Noma forage, prep, cook and serve.  As we have uncovered, this gives chefs an incredible respect for the ingredient, the process, and the cuisine.  More importantly, it demonstrates that limitations teach you how to be limitless.  At least, that is what we learned during my seven year run as the executive chef at Noma.

If you would like to become an expert on Rene Redzepi, I have embedded the actual video from the event below.

you're welcome, internets!



Also, worth going to docsconz post.

ps: some douche asked if foraging is sustainable.

pps: In spite of my tongue in cheek references about being the world's foremost authority on Rene Redzepi, I am actually a world class douche identifier.

ppps: The title of this post is a nod to Rene's quote of "Chef's are natural born martyrs... we'd make the best terrorists".  I'm glad nobody gave a shit about that.
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