It was another banner year for chef René Redzepi. He made magazine covers around the globe, announced plans for a new cookbook, appeared in an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, and staged the second installment of what has become one of the most important food symposiums (MAD). Not to mention he continued to push the envelope at his restaurant Noma, which in 2012 was named best restaurant in the world for the third year in a row. Here are some of the highlights of Redzepi's year:
Noma's New Test Kitchen
[Photo: Adam Mörk]
To push his restaurant further, Redzepi took the space above the dining room and turned it into a cutting-edge test kitchen. They refer to it as an "experimentarium" which consists of a test kitchen, herb garden, staff area, and office. It's important to note that this space is meant to serve the restaurant and its menu, as opposed to the Nordic Food Lab, which has more scientific and general tasks. Redzepi appeared on the BBC to explain the workings of the Food Lab around the same time the restaurant unveiled the test kitchen. There's also an essay explaining its workings here.
The Cover of Time
In the middle of March, Redzepi made the cover of Time in Europe, Asia, and pretty much everywhere in the U.S. In the story, journalist Lisa Abend proclaims Redzepi a "locavore hero" and gives a primer on his quest to use ingredients from his surroundings to "create a cuisine where it didn't exist before."
A New Cookbook
[Photo: Gabe Ulla/Eater]
There's a new cookbook in the works. Redzepi first revealed it in an interview last year, but he brought up the matter again in April. He explained to the Globe & Mail: "It will probably come out in 2013. This book goes deeper into how we actually come about this food and these recipes. It is about the crazy trial and error."
The Time 100
[Photo: Alfred Caliz / Panos]
Considering he had made the cover of the magazine just months earlier, it wasn't much of a surprise to see that Redzepi was included in the final Time 100 List. Ferran Adrià, who is tasked with writing Redzepi's blurb in the listicle, explains that his former elBulli stagiaire is now "at the apex of the culinary world." The only other chef to make the selection is José Andrés.
A Noma Pop-Up
Claridge's in London announced that they would be hosting a first-ever Noma pop-up during the Olympic games. Formally called A Taste of Noma at Claridge's, tickets (which went for £195) sold out in 2.5 hours. By most accounts, the project wasn't a bullshit undertaking: chef de cuisine Matt Orlando spearheaded the operation, which took months and months to pull off and included collaborations with foragers, bakers, and purveyors in London. Noma in Copenhagen does around 75 covers a day, but here, for one week, they did 360.
The World's Best Restaurant, Again
At the end of April, Noma was named best restaurant in world for the third year in a row.
The Bourdain Treatment
[Photo: Travel Channel]
Redzepi was among the group of chefs invited to participate in 2011's Cook It Raw: Japan, which ended up being featured in a full episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations in 2012. During the program, Redzepi takes Bourdain to a restaurant in Tokyo, and they share a plate featuring whale sperm. Later on, when it comes time for Cook It Raw, they go on a foraging trip. Says Bourdain: "There should be a t-shirt: I Foraged With Rene Redzepi."
[Photo: Gabe Ulla/Eater]
Over the summer, Redzepi hosted the second annual MAD Symposium in Copenhagen. This year, guest speakers included Massimo Bottura, Enrique Olvera, Danny Bowien, Wylie Dufresne, Dan Barber, Ferran Adrià, and Fergus Henderson. David Chang, who had spoken during the inaugural event, spoke again in 2012 to fill in for Marc Veyrat. The intimate symposium has become one of the most important in the world, selling out quickly and attracting chefs, journalists, and academics from all over the world. See a recap of the event here and videos here. Next year's event will be co-curated by David Chang, Lucky Peach, and Momofuku.
In August, Redzepi made the cover of Aeroméxico's in-flight magazine. Not such a big deal for the biggest chef in the world, right? Maybe, except that his likeness on the cover was made completely out of glasses of wine, plates, eggs, tablecloths, and other table settings by design group Blogolpeavisa.
Cook It Raw: Poland
[Photo: Ali Kurshat Altinsoy]
The 2012 edition of Cook It Raw took place in the eastern Polish village of Suwalki, which has the lowest average temperature in the whole of the country. Redzepi was again invited along for the trip. He was joined on the adventure by compatriots Albert Adrià, Iñaki Aizpitarte, Pascal Barbot, Mauro Colagreco, Daniel Patterson, and Ben Shewry, among others. Phaidon will be publishing a book on Cook It Raw next year.
Over the last year, ants started to pop up on Noma's menu. Of course, the news was met with skepticism from some, like Esquire's John Mariani, but that didn't stop Redzepi from including the critters on the Claridge's menu or explaining his reasoning during a New Yorker talk: "I know it's taboo to eat bugs in the Western world, but why not, when it adds letters to your vocabulary? ... You go to Southeast Asia and this is a common thing. You read about it from all over the world, that people are eating bugs." Here's a video on how the ants are harvested by hand.
There are several videos that came out this year which feature Redzepi and Noma: the self-produced footage showing how they make grasshopper garum and other items, a Terroir Symposium segment highlighting the restaurant's Saturday Night Projects tradition, and a Nowness piece on staff meal at the restaurant.
Talks and Travel
[Photo: Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The New Yorker]
Compared to some of his colleagues, Redzepi kept a pretty low profile on the international talk/conference circuit. The ones he did do: a lecture at UCLA, a New Yorker Festival Talk, and a presentation at San Sebastian's Gastronomika. In 2013, Redzepi is slated to appear at Enrique Olvera's Mesamerica Festival.