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Our iconic dishes series takes a look at the signature dishes of the world’s best chefs, the kind of dishes that have changed the way we think about food and that have gone on to influence chefs and restaurants the world over.
René Redzepi is perhaps the most influential chef of this decade. At Noma in Copenhagen he has been at the forefront of what became known as ‘New Nordic Cuisine,’ attracting many imitators, started a foraging revolution and attracted headlines for his use of live ingredients, alien to the Western palette.
A World’s Best Restaurant four times over, Noma has popped up in Japan, Australia and most recently Mexico, filling the interim between the restaurant’s closure and relocation to a new site in the Danish capital.
Here are some of René Redzepi’s most iconic dishes.
Moss and Cep
Fried Reindeer moss served on a bed of green moss and cep mushrooms demonstrated not only how Noma wanted to redefine ‘food,’ but also it’s unwavering belief in what it was doing.
Hen and the Egg
A DIY dish cooked by the diner and a conversation starter: a hot plate is given to each guest on which to cook a duck egg and spinach, all meticulously timed and observed by the kitchen. "You'd be surprised at how many people haven't cracked an egg before," says Redzepi.
Soil and Grass
Various dishes over the years at Noma have made use of vegetables buried in a kind of edible soil, made out of, for instance, malt and hazelnut flour. The most recent incarnation, on the new Noma menu during vegetable season (Noma 2.0 has three distinct seasons: seafood, vegetable and the forest), being a dessert of rose scented ‘soil’ with fresh cherries, pictured above.
Live Shrimps and Ants
Live shrimps have often been used in dishes at Noma, perhaps most famously served on ice with an accompanying brown butter dipping sauce, as have ants. A dish called Botan ebi and flavours of Nagano Forest, served at the Noma pop-up in Japan back in 2015, brought these two controversial – for some at least – ingredients together. The ants added a citrus note to the dish and were also served to perhaps slightly more reticent diners atop cabbage when Noma popped up at Claridges in London in 2012.
Fibres from braised veal neck were painstakingly picked apart and then deep fried for this dish, creating a kind of crispy meat cage that would put most sugar work to shame in terms of effort required. These little balls of crispy meat joy housed a dollop of crème fraîche. Take a look.
Noma’s most recent showstopper, as part of vegetable season, was this celeriac and truffle shawarma, which neatly picks up on the trend for fruits and vegetables cooked in a way so as to resemble meat. The celeriac tower, smothered with various umami-packed purees and topped with apples, is cooked on a bbq and then shaved tableside. It is served with the cooked apple, currants, sea herbs and a koji emulsion, with a sauce of truffles, mushroom, seaweed and brown butter.