TFP 2011: Interview with René Redzepi (part 3)

Rene Redzepi sees no contradiction between science and his style of cooking. He also promoted his book NOMA at the press conference at The Flemish Primitives 2011.

It came as no big surprise that NOMA defended its no. 1 position in April. A lot of the press coverage of NOMA and René Redzepi focuses on foraging (some even claim that we are in The Era of the ‘I Foraged With René Redzepi Piece’). It is all about nature and natural ingredients. Many would probably claim that NOMA is as far away from molecular gastronomy and science as you could possibly come. In March René Redzepi attended The Flemish Primitives in Oostende. I was there, and the one question I asked René at the press conference was this:

ML: The Flemish Primitives aims to bring together chefs, scientists and artists. There is also a co-operation between Noma and the University of Copenhagen. What have you learnt from from working with scientists?

RR: A lot! A lot! There is an incredible amount of knowledge to be gathered. Chefs are caretakers of flavor whereas scientists care about why things happen. But they don’t care about flavor. Torsten Vildgaard, one of my chefs, has been working 4 months every year on the project at Copenhagen University.

In a recent interview with WSJ René also said that “a lot of the techniques developed during the molecular phase have now been incorporated even into our style of cuisine because of their practicality”. I find it very fascinating and reassuring that René sees no contradiction between a modern approach to cooking, utilizing science and technology for what it’s worth, on the one side and his own cooking on the other. He is truly open minded and lets modern equipment and techniques coexist with his foraging approach.

During the interview René also mentioned the Nordic food lab, a non-profit organization founded by René Redzepi and Claus Meyer that aims to scientifically explore the New Nordic Cuisine (manifesto, 40-page booklet). They promote open sharing of their results, and contrary to food research in universities the Nordic food lab is “committed to show tangible results on a more frequent basis and on a slightly lower academic level than would be expected from e.g. a university.” I really recommend checking out their news section (which is more or less in a blog format – unfortunately I could find any funtioning RSS link on the page, but seems to work!)

Of course René also talked about other stuff than food science and molecular gastronomy. One thing that he’s particularily focused on now is the new food festival MAD foodcamp (MAD is “food” in Danish). It takes place on August 27 & 28 (the last two days of the Copenhagen Cooking festival). The topic this year will be vegetation, there will of course be chef & food, but there is also an International symposium and they have announced that Harold McGee is coming! René mentioned that the most challenging part is in fact to find writers and scientists who want to contribute to the symposium.


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