Noma's Danish-Macedonian head chef and co-owner Rene Redzepi at the "Best Restaurant in the World 2014", in Copenhagen. Kaper Bent Rasmussen/For China Daily
Daring to rethink whatmakes food has propelled Noma's chef to the top of his profession, as Lucy Cheung discovers in Copenhagen.
Down by the dock, in an old gray stone warehouse, stands the newly re-crowned "Best Restaurant in the World 2014", tucked among construction sites in the bohemian Christianshavn quarter of Copenhagen. Noma's Danish-Macedonian head chef and co-owner Rene Redzepi, chewing an apple, offers some dark brown sauce for me to try.
"That's grasshopper. We've fermented grasshopper for six months." Sipping the thick barley-mix sauce, my taste buds encounter an organic, strong new flavor that doesn't register with any existing impression I have of insects.
What motivates this restaurant, he says, "is delicious flavors and surprise".
After losing the No 1 ranking last year to Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, Noma reclaimed the top spot on the list of the Oscars of the food world it is Noma's fourth crown since 2010.
Held annually since 2002, the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards are run by London-based Restaurant magazine, and they have become tremendously influential. Much of the awards' cachet comes from the peer driven way they are decided: more than 900 chefs, food writers and gourmands around the world vote each year.
From guiding the high-profile new Nordic cuisine movement with Claus Meyer, co-founder of Noma, 10 years ago, to getting away from set rules and moving on with nonstop exploration of the unknown, Redzepi has led a lab for experimenting with ingredients as well as a distiller of a Scandinavian regional spirits.
The popularization in Denmark of skyr, a type of fresh cheese from Ice-land, and the groundbreaking launch of sea buckthorn on Noma's menu, are just two examples of Redzepi's effort to awaken Scandinavians' taste buds.