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René Redzepi's Culinary Journey in Turkey

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René Redzepi's Culinary Journey in Turkey

René Redzepi, who needs little introduction on this site, was the protagonist of the final episode of CNN International’s Culinary Journeys show which aired last Friday. 

For the final episode of the show, Redzepi choose to take a culinary journey in Turkey where he went in search of the knowledge required to produce baklava - a dish he remembers eating when he was a child and one that he says he would love to one day serve with coffee at Noma.

Below you can watch the episode back in three parts and also read our interview with Redzepi about the exciting trip. 

Part One - Meet The King of Nordic Cuisine. 

Tell us more about your Culinary Journey.
“My journey starts with a question of where do you want to go and for what reason do you want to go there?”

“I realised that even though I’m here in Scandinavia and we’re known to be this restaurant in Northern Europe, what I really crave and what I really grew up with, what brings me back to those Ratatouille moments is when I have my childhood food from Macedonia - which is predominantly Turkish food. The one treat that I love, yet haven’t had the same quality as in my childhood, is Baklava. It was a really rare treat when I was growing up.

“When I started to think about it I realised that I almost know nothing about actual Baklava or it’s history - we used to think it was a Macedonian / Albanian thing but then we had some Greeks in the kitchen who’s said “no, no, Baklava is Greek”. Then you start researching and you kind of figure out that maybe it’s Turkish or maybe it’s Syrian? I don’t really know, I don’t think we’ve ever been able to fully discover that yet.

“You read about Istanbul for food reasons, for historical reasons but I didn’t realise it’s such an amazing place for food. It was just A-Mazing as a food destination - completely mind blown. We visited this little sleepy town near the Syrian border and I had so many flash backs from my childhood, it was unreal.”

Part Two - Head to the Home of Baklava. 

Will Baklava make it onto the menu at Noma?
“Why shouldn’t I have some of my own background in the meal here at the restaurant. If I’m ever to put any of my childhood memories on the menu at Noma, which I’ve never really done, maybe Baklava could be a great thing to finish off with, if we can figure out how to develop it to our palate the flavour profile and cooking methods of Northern Europe.

“We’re still working on it. Malcom here in the pastry team has been working on a Baklava and we’re very happy with it. Baklava traditionally is still quite sweet, the flavour palate has changed a bit, especially in our part of the world where sugar is very subdued in desserts, so we knew that we really had to work on the sugar levels. We also wanted to work with some ingredients that come from here so wild roses are introduced, so is a Quince syrup that we made last year and bitter walnuts. We tried doing filo dough here and it’s really difficult, doing the one that we saw in the bakery on the journey, which looked so easy, I thought ‘wow, we’r going to be able to crack that code in a week’ but no way, there’s a real skill to that, it’s going to take a while to learn.

“We’re going to keep working on that but I would love nothing more than to have a tray of perfectly cooked baklava, baked one hour ago, crusty from nuts, floral from roses, to be served with a cup of coffee after the meal here at Noma. It’s going to take us a while, perhaps maybe a year.”

What’s the one Culinary Journey that you always look forward to taking?
“For me it’s definitely going to the Yucatan region in Mexico, staying in this tiny village and having some of the mothers cook Yucatan food for us.”

Part Three - A Twist on The Classic 

If you could take a Culinary Journey anywhere - where would you like to go?
“I would go to Blaine Wetzel’s place in Lummi Island - I’ve never been and I want to go really bad. A guy on an Island off the coast of Seattle - it’s really intriguing. I worked with him for three years at the restaurant and he’s such an honest, cool and bright guy.”

What's been the highlight of your own culinary journey?
“I don’t have that one specific moment. I know to some people it’s hard to understand that, although I feel proud and happy for the team when we do win things like gaining a Michelin star or being recognised or number one, it never really moved me in an emotional sense. Not like it moves you when you have a child, or your wife does something magical for you, or you get a present from your friend.

“The biggest thing that I enjoyed and unexpectedly from Noma was actually the building of the community of former chefs and seeing them succeed here in Copenhagen.”

The show will be reshown on CNN International at the times below. 

Tuesday 10 November at 1030 GMT 
Wednesday 11 November at 0430 GMT 
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