Video: Noma’s Rene Redzepi visits Beirut

Video: Noma’s Rene Redzepi visits Beirut

René Redzepi, is a 42-year old Danish chef and co-owner of the two-Michelin star restaurant Noma. Located in Copenhagen, it has been voted number one in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list four times since launch. Redzepi is credited with popularizing new Nordic food and his restaurant is believed to be the most influential of the past decade.

Redzepi has been called the world’s best chef and visionary, yet prior to launching Noma, his idea of opening a top-end restaurant in Denmark not based on the classic cuisines of France or Italy but on Nordic food was absurd.

Noma, is a truncation of the Danish words Nordisk (Nordic) and mad (food). Today, almost a decade and a half on, it’s hard to think of global cuisines without considering that of Scandinavia. Nordic cooking and its simple, minimalist approach to ingredients has become part of the culinary psyche, influencing and guiding chefs all over the world in the same way that the classic techniques of la gastronomie française still inform much of today’s fine dining. It is this point alone that makes Redzepi and Noma such important protagonists in the history of modern gastronomy.

But, this is where the story takes another interesting turn as he has always been of the opinion that no growth is possible without constant and relentless innovation. To that end, Redzepi’s dishes resonate with their immediate environment, which today has come to be referred to as ‘terroir cooking’.

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Always on the prowl for novelty, Redzepi has through personal connections successfully launched a number of popup restaurants in Japan, Australia and Mexico as these destinations held special interest for him and constituted a testbed of sorts for his culinary creations.

Most recently, Redzepi was invited to visit Lebanon for the first time courtesy of Kamal Mouzawak, founder of Lebanon’s Souk El Tayeb farmers’ market, the Tawlet restaurant chain and the Beit guesthouse network. Mouzawak met Redzepi many years ago at Noma when according to Redzepi at a time when the restaurant had not yet garnered its global status. The visit was an invitation to participate in a live roundtable discussion on food ethics/activism and gastrodiplomacy as part of the 15th-anniversary celebrations of Souk el Tayeb, launched at The Garden Show and Spring Festival in Beirut.

Redzepi’s connection to Lebanon was further bolstered when a Lebanese culinary apprentice from the Shouf region by the name of Tarek Alameddine managed to land a job at Noma and has since been working there for the past four years.

The short 3-day visit, based on some insider information, may signal a potential collaboration that could see Redzepi entering the Middle East within the next two years.

Till then, we are keeping our fingers crossed and on the pulse for further developments.

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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