Here's A Work in Progress, René Redzepi's new three-volume release that features a cookbook, a year-long journal, and a book of snapshots of his Copenhagen restaurant Noma and its staff. The books are three different sizes, bound together by a giant yellow rubberband (that has a tendency to scrape up the paper cover of the Journal volume, so be careful). They're three different shades of green, three different texture-covers, three different ways of looking at the same restaurant and the same chef.
Redzepi recommends you start with the journal. It is studded with references to the other two books, inviting you to flip to recipes or photos for further insight. The journal covers February 2011 to February 2012. Ostensibly, it chronicles a year's worth of creativity at Noma, but there's a lot more than that: it tells the story of Redzepi at a crossroads in his career, the year he launched the MAD Symposium and had his second child, and it tells the story of his employees and the changing Danish seasons.
The recipes book begins with an essay by Lars Ulrich (yes, that Lars Ulrich, of Metallica) entitled "Unafraid." Redzepi assigned Ulrich the topic of "What is creativity?" which Ulrich answers:
René belongs to a very small group of unique creators. People who have turned their partiular niches completely upside-down. Reinvented and redefined them. The Unafraid. Whether it be Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Charlie Parker, Beethoven, the Beatles, Cecil B. DeMille, Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Jack Kerouac, James Joyce, Hunter S. Thompson, Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking, Marlon Brando, the list goes on depending who's composing it...but no matter who's on that list, or how long it is, René Redzepi BELONGS on that list. The rest of the recipe book is rather similar to the last Noma cookbook, recipes arranged seasonally, with sparse photography and a sort of austere chill about it. The snapshots booklet is pretty much what you'd expect if you follow any of the Noma crowd on Twitter: photos of chefs studiously bent over prep tables, shots of sparklingly fresh seafood, Noma employees sleeping on a bus on the way back from a staff party, Redzepi hanging out with David Chang, and more.
René Redzepi: A Work in Progress is out from Phaidon November 11 (pre-order on Amazon). Take a look: