I had the pleasure of interviewing Rene at Noma in August 2015. The entire interview was published in the Dolce Vita magazine, here I am publishing it in chapters. This is chapter 4. Read also introduction (about interviewing Rene) , chapter 1 (about Rene’s origins) , chapter 2 (about sustainability) and chapter 3 (about ingredients and locality).
There is a huge number of young chefs who desire to get a chance to work at Noma to learn from Rene and his team. Only a few manage to get there …
Yes, it’s extremelly hard. For the Australian Noma we have already 150 candidates. And this is six months before our trip*. It’s our career department’s task to decide who will be accepted.
We are not greatly impressed by the references and CV’s. I had already people with great referrals who didn’t prove themselves. I am much more interested in the right spirit – motivation, curiosity, adaptability, passion, drive … that’s what really counts. The way people present themselves is very important. Everybody who applies for Noma has to know that what we do is for real. We play finale every day – for lunch and for dinner. We don’t know friendly matches, we need to be ready and on top every day. There is no beginning of the season, no warming up and no preparations for finale. In our case we play finale every day, that’s why we are looking for strong characters with a strong motivation, energy and perservance.
* talking in August 2015
Many chefs who worked with Rene opened later their own restaurants in Copenhagen or elsewhere. Some people see them as an extension of Noma.
No, each of them is very unique. In our society we are making a big mistake by looking at young talents too much in relation to their “father”, tutor. Each of us has to start somewhere. It’s good to know the traditions and roots, but we are encouraging everybody who works with us to remain unique, to develop their own creativity, to explore and express themselves.
We are building a community. More people work on developing flavours, more work there is for farmers, foragers and fishermen. The entire society, everything involved in this process, is developing and strengthening with us and that’s fantastic! This is the spirit of Noma.
Go to Chapter 5 (on leadership).
by Andreja Lajh