As a Denmark-based chef, to make a list that’s overwhelmingly comprised of American chefs is impressive enough, but to make it this close to the top is a testament to René Redzepi’s skills in the kitchen. Of course, what else would you expect from the man whose restaurant has held two Michelin stars since 2008 and was voted as the “Best Restaurant in the World” by the San Pellegrino Awards in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014?
René’s culinary career began in Copenhagen at the restaurant Pierre André, and after a few stints around Copenhagen to hone his craft, René opened Noma in 2004. Since then, Noma and René have received awards and accolades nearly too numerous to mention, including an “International Chef of the Year” award for René at the Lo Mejor de la Gastronomía conference in Spain in 2008. Noma has also consistently made Restaurant magazine’s list of the “Best 50 Restaurants in the World,” including in 2006 (33rd), 2007 (15th), 2008 (10th) and 2009 (3rd). (Naturally, in 2011, 2012 and 2014, Noma reached – and held – the top spot on that list.) René was also named by Time magazine as one of its “100 Most Influential People” in 2012.
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René is widely considered to be responsible for the reinvention and reinvigoration of Nordic cuisine. His dishes are known for their inventiveness and clean flavors, but don’t let that characterization fool you: his meals can pack a lot of punch without using a lot of spices. The menu at Noma (the name is combination of “Nordic” and “mad,” which means “food” in Danish) reflects René’s approach to the culinary arts: understated, simple and elegant, trusting that what’s inside will be more than enough to satisfy his guests.
René is inspired by the seasonal challenges posed by the terrain of his homeland. Though plentiful in the short summer months, Denmark’s flora die out during the long winters, and because René is so committed to injecting Danish authenticity into his dishes, he has been forced to adapt his culinary style to take advantage of what his homeland has to offer.
René’s dishes include charred greens with a scallop paste, sea urchin and cabbage, lobster with onion and lavender, dried tomatoes and fresh milk curd, a whole roasted duck, and steamed king crab and egg yolk sauce. Clearly, René knows how to do a lot with a little.