At just 35, Rene Redzepi is the master chef of Noma, a two Michelin Star restaurant in Copenhagen that serves fanatical foodies “new Nordic cuisine”—heavy on the bone marrow, lamb’s brains, truffles, snails, rose-hip petals, and vacuum-packed kohlrabi.
Voted the best restaurant in the world in the San Pellegrino awards three times, Noma elevates cooking to an art and an experimental science. Now, Redzepi has captured that magic in A Work in Progress, a set of three books offering a peek at the creation of Noma's world-renowned cuisine (check out some of the mouth-watering dishes in the slide show above). We asked Redzepi about how one remains unafraid of taking great risks in business. Here are four insights from the master chef himself.
Find Your "Healthy Seed"
Think about what you really want to do. Find that healthy seed, that idea, and that inspiration will be the driving force carrying you forward. If you stay honest and true to your beliefs, that seed will grow into something very strong. And, of course, get ready to work. Work very hard. When it starts to get painful, work. When it's almost unbearable, you keep working, until that just becomes the norm. I don't believe there's any way around it. If you want to reach for that mountaintop, get ready to work more than you ever have.
Keep Surprising People
The biggest challenge is maintaining the element of surprise. It's a very simple thing to say, but having now operated Noma for a decade, still keeping that element of surprise within the meal, nudging people's expectations, and nudging people's idea of what food and flavor can do to you, is both our driving force and our Achilles' heel.
Listen to Your Intuition
Inspiration for us has changed so much over the years. When we first opened, it was the basic rediscovery of all these ingredients—stuff that I had never seen before, growing in our own backyard. With time, as these foodstuffs become as common as a leaf of parsley to us, our inspirations have changed.
Now, it's really about filling ourselves with interesting knowledge that's within our trade. With the right team, you're able to take all of these lessons and bring them into the now, the moment we are standing in, so something new happens. It's difficult, though, to see the synergies between something in the past and something in the now. You need an intuition that's trained like an Olympic athlete. That's one of the strongest forces that we have in our cooking: our intuition.
Every Step of the Process Offers Inspiration
We have heard so often that the way our food is organized on the plate looks like a landscape, which is true, but the plating happens quite naturally because our first inspiration is always from where we get the food, when we are out on a shoreline or in the forest. It’s almost not deliberate.
You can buy A Work in Progress for $59.95 here.