René Redzepi is a Danish noted for his work on the reinvention and refinement of the new Nordic cuisine and food that is characterized by inventiveness and clean flavors.
When he was young, Redzepi’s family moved to Macedonia and lived in Tetovo, a predominantly ethnic Albanian area, until 1992 – the start of the Yugoslav Wars. In Macedonia, Redzepi lived in a rural area in a large multi-generation house. After the family moved back to Denmark, Redzepi often spent his summers in Yugoslavia when he was young. At 15 years old, Redzepi left high school. He enrolled in a cooking school with a friend.
After choosing a culinary career, Redzepi trained at a local family-owned, well-known restaurant called Pierre André in Copenhagen, where he had an apprenticeship that lasted four years. When he was 19 years old, he went to work at Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier in Southern France. Redzepi first visited El Bulli as a guest in 1998 and subsequently worked there during the 1999 season.
Back in Copenhagen, he started working at Kong Hans Kælder, which had been one of the city’s leading gourmet restaurants since the mid-1970s. In 2001 he spent four months working under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in California, but returned to Kong Hans Kælder and Copenhagen.
In December 2002, when he was 24 years old, Redzepi was contacted by Claus Meyer, who had been offered the opportunity to operate a restaurant at the North Atlantic House, a former 18th-century warehouse that was being turned into a cultural center for the North Atlantic region. The restaurant, Noma, was opened in 2004 with Redzepi as the head chef. The name is a combination of the Danish words nordisk, which means Nordic, and mad, which means food.
Redzepi sources much of his food locally and does research by foraging for food in the wild. Much of the approach to the menu and food at Noma is based on seasonal themes of what is available at the time. Redzepi also focuses on experimentation with fermentation and dehydration. Noma announced that it will close its doors for regular service in 2024, but the Chef is aleady involved in new projects.
Noma Kyoto at Ace Hotel Kyoto
“We have traveled throughout Japan and this specific region for many years. We have studied and researched the history and the food culture, in particular kaiseki cuisine. For our Kyoto menu, we will source ingredients from local farmers, hunters, fishmongers, and foragers and will work very closely with this local network of suppliers. Our menu will reflect the sakura season in Kyoto, yet, we will not be a Japanese restaurant.”