Talking with David (Chang) and Rene (Redzepi)
October 7, 2010
Rene Redzepi and David Chang are two of the most thoughtful, charismatic and entertaining chefs today. But I couldn’t help thinking about the irony of the evening. We were talking about eating culture, about the need to create a truly local cuisine. We all agreed that restaurant cooking has become so homogenized that if you closed your eyes and simply tasted what was on your plate, you would have no way of knowing where in the world you were. You could be eating the same dishes in Sydney, Shanghai, London or San Francisco. For these two young chefs, the creation of a truly local cuisine is the next food frontier.
But while they may be thinking local, they’re living global. David looked exhausted, and he had to run off to catch a plane to London, where he’ll be cooking a meal with Claude Bosi of Hibiscus. Meanwhile Rene’s whistlestop tour has taken him to three continents in the last two weeks, and he’s still wearing his traveling shoes.
Some more thoughts:
Favorite Moment: Rene pointing out that chefs would make great terrorists, because they’re so single-minded and obsessed. (Although I may have been the only one who laughed.)
Favorite Audience Question: The young chef, who stood up in front of all those people and made a pitch for a stage at Noma next summer. How could Rene say no? He couldn’t, although I suspect he’s opened the door to many more requests along the way.
Favorite Food in the Goodie Bag: The wild kiwi from Maine.
Second Favorite Food: Sea Asparagus.
Favorite Noma Dish: The incredible vintage carrot (which wins the ugliest food on the planet award).
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The talk last night was highly inspirational. It’s amazing to see someone as young as Rene gaining such accolades, and being so miraculously humble about it. His passion came through tenfold in his description and discussion of food; the experience of sharing the moments of chefs picking their first herbs and veggies ever, the thought of him wanting to do right by ingredients, and following along with one of the most spectacular rules of cooking (at least i think so) in regards to if things are growing together (from a seasonal perspective) they (more times then not) pair well together. And he does this to a hyperlocal level of – if it grows within several feet of each other, they most likely go well together as well.
I was a bit shy unfortunately, as I did want to ask how much of the food at Noma is actually foraged, and also what kind of proteins are used at the restaurant, and if the butchering and slaughtering are done in house? — Just sort of, to what extent do they do everything from goods in their most rawest/purest of states.
I definitely know I was laughing (for a bit longer then most around me were comfortable with) about the “chefs making great terrorists” comment…
Chang however did seem exhausted in every level.
I was so impressed with Redzepi and his “back to nature, culture on a plate” philosophy. I found him refreshing and optimistic. Amazing to realize how much his contemporary perspective is inspired by his rural life in Macedonia practically cut off from the modern world…