In a move that will surely surprise and most definitely excite many people working in the industry, Rene Redzepi has announced his dishwasher, Ali Sonko, will be made a partner in the Noma restaurant.
Speaking at an event for his staff to mark the closing of Noma, before a relocation to a brand new space, Redzepi announced that Ali would be joining two other staff members in becoming partners at the restaurant.
Berlingske reports that Redzepi held a party for around 250 people where he laid out the plans for Noma.2 before informing staff of the new partnership idea.
“What would it all be worth without the employees?” asked Redzepi, before explaining why Ali, who started work as a dishwasher at Noma when they opened 13 years ago, was first in line for a part of the business.
“Ali is the heart and soul of Noma. I don’t think people appreciate what it means to have a person like Ali in the house.”
The move will surely spark a debate at the top of the restaurant chain where many kitchen staff give years of their life to work at the same restaurant. Partnerships are often offered by chefs to their apprentices but it’s not common. What’s unique here is to see a dishwasher become a partner.
Incentives like this could mark a new way for building and retaining the very best teams. And somewhere like Noma offering this type of remuneration to staff will surely force similar restaurants to consider their own programs.
Service director Lau Richter and manager James Spreadbury will also be also be made partners.