In ‘Omnivore’ on Apple TV, Noma’s René Redzepi Unlocks the Stories Behind Foods That Define Us

In the world of travel, food also provides opportunities to make authentic human connections. Have you found that to be true as you’ve traveled the world and broken bread with strangers?

For me this discovery goes all the way back to Mexico in 2005, way before the show. I was traveling through a tiny village called Yaxunah, deep in the Yucatan Peninsula. We met a Mayan family that offered to cook a wild pig in the ground for us the indigenous Mayan way. We ended up spending the day there, because they were like, “Oh, you want to eat this? It will be done in six hours.” We hung out chatting all day while the pig cooked. It stands out as simply one of the most fantastic meals I’ve ever had—no fancy service, no silverware. We played with the kids during the day; we swam in the local cenote. That, to me, was the beginning of a really deep love affair with Mexico in general, but specifically the Yucatan, and specifically Mayan people. That person [Rosalia Chay Chuc] was featured later on Chef’s Table and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

Has working on this show changed how you approach your craft—or how you feed your family and yourself?

It just reinforced what I really, really believe: that food is, by far, the most important thing in the world. We need to appreciate how we eat, what we eat, how food is grown. Food tells everything about where the world is going—will we be healthier, will the world be healthier—and we should really be taking note. It also further enhanced my decision that my kids need to know how to cook; they need to know how and what to eat. They need to have food be one of the biggest joys of their life.

It’s been 20 years since you presented the Nordic Kitchen Manifesto. Is that something that’s still evolving? Is there a 2.0?

[A couple of decades ago] Copenhagen was a city with three, maybe four restaurants worth eating at. Today, there are 20 excellent bakeries—and any of them, if located in any other city in the world, would be the best there. There are countless wine bars; Copenhagen is the natural wine epicenter of Europe. There are three three-star Michelin restaurants in this little shithole of a city. But it’s not just 20-course tasting menus: for instance, our former sous chef is opening a wine bar with Indian food and she is only sourcing from local farms—much like when [Noma alum] Rosio [Sanchez] started Sanchez and couldn’t find fruits and vegetables from Oaxaca, but then she adapted and started using gooseberries in her salsas—and found it tastes amazing. The manifesto was just a stepping stone, it was like three steps, but it wasn’t the whole ladder. Today, there is an explosion of micro fermentation shops in Copenhagen—it’s like the bakery boom five, seven years ago. So, it’s not just fine-dining, it’s the fermentation shops and the taco and hot dog stands and they’re all doing great things.

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