Lisa Mullins speaks with two Michelin star chef Rene Redzepi about his new cookbook of Nordic cuisine. Redzepi runs the award-winning restaurant NOMA in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2010, it was ranked as the Best Restaurant in the World. Download MP3
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LISA MULLINS: Award-winning chef Rene Redzepi doesn’t cook with acai berries. But he does cook with cloudberries. Redzepi runs a restaurant called Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. The house specialty there is reinventing Nordic Cuisine. And, yeah, Noma happens to be the Best Restaurant in the World. That’s according to the latest ranking by Restaurant Magazine in Britain. Chef Rene Redzepi joins us now from New York now. You have written a cookbook with recipes from your restaurant in Copenhagen. We do not want to mislead our listeners, though, Rene, this is not food that will be sitting in your fridge. It’s not made with ingredients that you might have hanging out, like burnt hay and puffin eggs and musk ox, et cetera. Who cooks that way besides you?
RENE REDZEPI: That’s a good question. Not many do, which is actually I think why we are being recognized the way we are. Our book is as much as, let’s say an atlas, of Scandinavian, Nordic, modern cooking. It’s an inspiration that the people can use, especially chefs I would say. They can use that in a way so they can see how that ingredients from an area in the world that is not known for [SOUNDS LIKE] gastronomy. How ingredients can be transformed onto a plate…
MULLINS: You know it would be good to have an example right now because there are so many amazing photographs in the cookbook and this is an enormous coffee table book as well, but I should say the images are not things like macaroni and cheese and other comfort foods. This is more like surrealist photography. I wonder if there is an example that you could give us of not only how you came about a particular set of ingredients acting well together, but also how you plated them because that’s a part of what you’re going for as well.
REDZEPI: Sure. I often here that it looks like a landscape or something taken straight from nature. This is simply because this is where we spend our time. This is our inspiration. We forage. We go to the shorelines. We go to the forest. I consider ourselves to have a pact with nature. We find an ingredient of extraordinary high quality, let’s say the blueberries, and what we did is we took this blueberry and we just looked around it and looked at what else grew there.
MULLINS: What did you find?
REDZEPI: Well, we find wild thyme, we found heather, and other herbs such as [INDISCERNIBLE] to put on the plate. And that became the dish. You know, heather, wild thyme and [INDISCERNIBLE], with of course blueberries as the lead guitarist of the dish.
MULLINS: Sounds like wild times. Did you, I mean is that going to make anybody feel full or is that not the point?
REDZEPI: For me, essentially there’s two types of restaurants. There’s the gas stations where you go to get full. And then there’s restaurants beyond that. They challenge you and they challenge your reference points on what food is.
MULLINS: You know when you say that you wish more people would eat this way, obviously we’re not all in Denmark, we don’t all have blueberries growing near us or have a shoreline close by. But is there one ingredient that you think more people could use?
REDZEPI: Well, you mentioned acai berry, and…
MULLINS: You pronounce it acai, that’s very interesting, a-c-a-i, which a lot of people say acai, but you say acai.
REDZEPI: You know, I’m stuck up there in north, what do I know about these exotic berries? But there’s a berry called sea buckthorn, which I’ve even seen in Canada. I’m sure it’s around your area there in Boston. And that’s a berry of unique high qualities that I think should be present more.
MULLINS: In what? What would you do with it?
REDZEPI: In anything. That’s the beauty about this berry. Its high rich in C vitamin, quite acidic. This could be in a yogurt. You could juice it and serve it over your raw fish. They can be in your cereal as a dried berry in the mornings. It’s a universal berry that can be used just in any part of cuisine.
MULLINS: You called it a sea buck berry?
REDZEPI: Sea buckthorn.
MULLINS: Sea buckthorn?
REDZEPI: Yeah, some call it hawthorn as well.
MULLINS: Oh, yes. I’ve heard of hawthorn. Well, there may be the first ever run in the United States or Canada on sea buckthorn thanks to you.
MULLINS: Alright. Rene, thank you very much. Very nice to talk to you.
REDZEPI: Nice talking to you. Thank you.
MULLINS: Rene Redzepi is the co-owner and chef of Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. His new book about his cuisine is called Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine. If you’d like to check out some gorgeous photos of Rene’s dishes, go to our website at TheWorld.org. Good luck to you. Nice to talk to you again.
REDZEPI: You too.
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