He was virtually unknown a decade ago but in the past four years Danish chef René Redzepi has skyrocketed to international fame and recognition as one of the best chefs in the world. So what is the secret to his sucess? It's a plain and simple three-letter word: FUN.
In an interview with the Splendid Table's Rebecca Sheir, Redzepi opened up about his book A Work in Progress and how injecting a dose of fun was what made his restaurant Noma top the World's 50 Best Restaurants list three times before sliding into second place this year (to Spain's El Celler de Can Roca).
Here's a great quote from the interview:
"In between all those maniac hours and all the ingredients, the pressure, the accolades, the interviews, everything, I put in between all of these layers something that I didn't think was important in the kitchen, something that I'd been taught wasn't important -- that was fun.
Fun and playfulness, having those be part of your kitchen, a professional kitchen, has turned out to be one of the biggest success factors for us at the restaurant. The past 3 years have been built on that. "
So how did Redzepi make things more fun at Noma?
The chef closed down the banquet room and turned it into a staff canteen with a library and an espresso corner for employees. Another big change? Having music in the kitchen. Music, the chef said, was "a huge psychological barrier" because he'd always been told "that music doesn't belong" in the kitchen.
Here's a fun video of the kitchen crew jamming to Michael Jackson.
Below is a snippet from Redzepi's interview. Don't miss out on reading the transcripts and listening to the whole interview - it's really quite a gem. To do so, just swing by the Splendid Table.