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April 07, 2016

René Redzepi on Noma Australia

Text by Tanisha Choudhury

Two-Michelin starred, legendary chef René Redzepi talks about foraging for ingredients in Australia and setting up his latest pop-up in Sydney

World renowned chef René Redzepi’s Noma in Copehagen has two Michelin stars along with being named ‘Best Restaurant in the World’ four times over. After a residency and pop-up in Japan, this year he has decided to move his entire team and restaurant for a pop-up on Sydney harbour. Below, the legendary chef speaks to us about the importance of local produce and what went into setting up Noma Australia.

1. Importance of local produce…
“It’s summer, the larder is lush and bountiful, and I feel we’ve done our due diligence in terms of research. You need to meet the people that are harvesting, growing, catching or foraging your food. Once you meet them, and you understand their work, then you start planning for what flavours you want. Australia is a place that has very different seasons and in a span of three months that will be reflected on the menu at Noma Australia.”

2. Favourite ingredients foraged in Australia…
“My encounter with various indigenous communities and their food ways has left the biggest impact on me – foraging for abalone, eating fresh Muntries, nibbling on pepper berries, and cracking open a bunya nut. For thousands of years people have been coming to these parts of what is today Sydney, to eat the clams and the fish from the waters right out in front of us. It made so much sense to focus on those things from the ocean, paired with the best seasonal specialities that we got from our journeys around Australia.”

3. Favourite local restaurants in Sydney…
“Some favourites have been Silvereye, Billy Kwong, Ester, and Momofuku Seiōbo. We also love Belle’s Hot Chicken, which is at Barangaroo, and just down the street from us!”

4. Biggest challenge of setting up Noma Australia…
“One of the most challenging parts for us was bringing over the whole team, from dishwashers to managers, and including some wives and kids. We have a dedicated project manager for that, Annika De Las Heras, and she is such a huge talent. We couldn’t have done it without her!”

5. On choosing Sydney, Australia…
“It was important that we could have our own private space. It reminds me of Noma in Copenhagen, in terms of being on the harbour and the proximity to the water. Lendlease have done an incredible job with the space. It’s a very open space, like Copenhagen — I like that the restaurant is connected, kitchen to restaurant, restaurant to kitchen. We’ve focused on very simple, or seemingly simple aesthetics – colours of the earth, wood, light shining through, spacious and airy.
I selected Sydney as the location for the restaurant as it is one of the world’s most iconic cities, and is also a gateway to the rest of Australia. The obvious connection to Noma is the water, with both Barangaroo, Sydney and Noma (Copenhagen) being located on harbours. Despite being on the other side of the world, standing by the quay reminds me a lot of home. There is a lot of the same energy.”

6. Favourite dish from Noma Australia…
“Definitely the ocean and coastal ranges. We’re also using fire as the main way of cooking ingredients.”

7. First culinary inspiration…
“My first culinary inspiration was a French chef named Philippe Houdet.”

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