René Redzepi is the man to watch, the Danish chef who was voted third best in the world in the latest top 50 rankings, and who wowed our Chef Conference last year. Here are three good recipe-based reasons why he's so good, plus the views of Marcus Wareing, who recently ate at Noma, Redzepi's Copenhagen restaurant
NOMA - THE MARCUS WAREING VIEW
I ate at Noma recently and it was a brilliant meal - it captured Redzepi's country and his immediate surroundings perfectly.
The cooking stood out for his use of vegetables, of roe and shellfish in abundance, all delivered in an exceptional, unusual way. It was individual and brilliant.
We had warm sliced raw chestnut with birch wine, butter sauce with roe, walnut and rye bread, and it was to die for. There were raw carrots standing on end with lots of chopped truffle. We were also served an egg, which you lifted the lid off to find it was filled with hay and pickled and smoked quails' eggs.
Redzepi's vegetable cooking reminds me of Michel Bras in the range and quality of execution. He uses great, seasonal garden produce. The fish was amazing: almost like sushi, it was so beautifully cooked. He served what was called langoustine on the menu but it was halfway between a langoustine and a lobster in size.
I really like the way the chefs at Noma come out into the dining room, serve the food, and explain what it is to you. The waiters stand back and those from the kitchen do the talking. Thus it's described by the chefs in a very different way.
I had the 22 courses - the à la carte menu is very small - it's all about his flavours, but there wasn't a single combination that didn't work. It was all the more impressive because Redzepi wasn't even there - he had gone to Australia. To have his team pulling for him like that really says a lot for his work at Noma.
The whole place is like Redzepi's food - very fresh. I like the rusticity of the dining room. It used to be an old salt mill, and it captures the feeling of old Copenhagen.
It made me think about what I'm doing in my restaurant. I love being challenged, and it's a joy to see a chef working so differently. There's nowhere like it; he's up there with the best, and it's only a matter of time before he's awarded three stars.
VEGETABLE FIELD WITH MALT SOIL AND HERBS
Vegetables (may vary throughout the season)
- 4 orange carrots
- 4 yellow carrots
- 4 radishes
- 4 black, green and red radishes
- 1 Jerusalem artichoke
- 1 baby celeriac
- 4 baby leeks
- 4 baby parsley roots
- 60ml water
- 50g butter
- 80g peeled potatoes
- 5g butter
- 15ml cream
- 25ml water
- Horseradish juice
Malt soil:Day 1
- 350g flour
- 85g malt flour
- 50g hazelnut flour
- 25g sugar
- 75g beer
Malt soil: Day 2
- 40g flour
- 20g malt flour
- 50g hazelnut flour
- 4g salt
- 75g melted butter
- Herbs: 12 leaves from the tops of the carrots4 leaves from the tops of the parsley roots
Peel the carrots, leaving 1cm of the tops behind. Cut them in half so you keep top and bottom separately. Scrape the radishes and the leeks free of dirt and cut them in half, as the carrots. Scrape the celeriac and the artichoke and quarter them. Blanch all the vegetables in salted water until tender. Heat the water and whisk in all the butter to form an emulsion.
To make the purée, boil the potatoes and crush with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients while still warm.
To make the malt soil, mix all the ingredients from day 1 and dry for five hours at 80°C, then discard all the big, dry lumps. Mix day 2 ingredients separately and add to the first batch. Work the batch for a few minutes and make sure it is completely homogeneous, without any lumps of raw dough.
Heat the vegetables in the butter emulsion and heat the purée in a pot by itself, seasoning it with a bit of horseradish juice. Plate a small spoonful on a stone and add all the vegetables to look as if they are sticking up from the ground. Sprinkle the malt soil on top and add the picked and rinsed herbs on top of that.
SALSIFY AND MILK SKIN, TRUFFLE PUREE
- 3 pieces of salsify, 1cm diameter x 9cm long
- 1 white loaf
- 115ml cream
- 65ml milk
- 25ml rapeseed oil
- 1 litre milk
- 50ml cream
- 30ml milk protein
- 100g truffles, from Gotland
- 12g chicken glace
- 20ml light chicken stock
- 24ml truffle oil
- 60ml grape seed oil
- Apple vinegar, to season
- A selection of herbs including yarrow, chickweed, cress, rosette cress, watercress, rocket flowers, wild chervil and chervil
To make the truffle purée, peel the truffles and blend with the chicken glace and bouillon, then emulsify the oils in the smooth mix as with a mayonnaise. Season with apple vinegar and salt.
For the milk skin, mix the milk, cream and milk protein, and heat to around 70e_SDgrC. Skim off the first few skins, which will be very fragile. When a skin is formed, pull it off the pot with both hands and store it on baking paper. Repeat until you have produced four or five perfect skins.
Next, peel the salsify and cut them to about 12cm in length, and blanch for three to four minutes. Cool down in ice water and pat dry. Sauté the salsify in a pan with oil until golden all the way around.
For the bread salad, pick an airy white bread into 10 or 15 small irregular pieces and toast them in a pan for two to three minutes until golden and crispy.
Pick through all the herbs and dump them directly into iced water. Swing until dry and store on paper.
Place the salsify next to a spoonful of truffle purée smeared across the surface of the warm plate. Add a few drops of vinegar and cover with the milk skin previously heated. Heat the cream sauce and pour a spoonful on top of the skin. Place a selection of wild herbs, salt and the crispy bread on top of the milk skin.
GLAZED BEETS AND APPLES
- 2kg big beets
- 20g fresh or dried woodruff
- 1 star anise
- 15g chicken glace
- Apple vinegar to season
- 200g marrow from veal bones
- 1 litre water
- 70g salt
- 100g woodchips
- 4 medium-sized long beets
- 1 big round beet
- 4 green acidic apples
- 60ml water
- 50g butter
- 2 twigs of thyme
- 8 leaves of sorrel
To make the sauce, peel and juice the big beets, add the woodruff and star anise and reduce to a quarter. Season with the chicken glace, apple vinegar and strain.
For the smoked marrow, soak the bone marrow in iced water for 48 hours, changing the water at least twice a day. Mix together salt and water and heat to make a brine. When cooled down, soak the marrow for another 48 hours. Smoke lightly in a smoker with the woodchips and some hay. Cut slices approximately 0.5cm thick, then cut them out with a round cutter. Melt all the remaining marrow, then pass it through a strainer.
For the garnish, boil the long beets for 35 minutes until tender, strain off and peel them before they cool down, and cut into discs 1cm thick. Slice the apples 1cm thick and cut them out with a round cutter so they are the same size as the beets. Heat the water and whisk in the butter to emulsify, add the thyme and cook the apples at a low heat for around two minutes.
Slice the big beet finely on a meat slicer and cut out three discs per person with a round cutter twice the size of the beets and apples. Cut the sorrel to the same size and let it sit in cold water for five minutes.
Heat and glaze the beets in the sauce and plate them with the apples, sorrel leaves and the raw discs of beets. Heat the marrow slowly in the oven and add to the plate, split the warm beet sauce with the melted marrow and sauce the plate.