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 5. Read also introduction (about interviewing Rene) , chapter 1 (about Rene’s origins) , chapter 2 (about sustainability), chapter 3 (about ingredients and locality) and chapter 4 (about young talents).
Beside being an excellent chef, Rene is also an inspiring leader. He knows to encourage, motivate, create a positive atmosphere, enhance creativity of each individual … How did he develop those skills?
To be sincere, there were times when I was the worst boss you can imagine.
When I was a sous chef I thought I had everything under control. Being a head chef can’t be such a big difference, I thought. It can’t be twice as hard! But it is. It’s something incomparable.
I started Noma at a young age full of confidence and energy. Then I began understanding that I was responsible for everything and I got scared. Fear creates anger. If something didn’t work as it should, I started to shout, just like many other chefs that I knew. But in a certain moment I became aware that this isn’t a solution – it made us all unhappy – myself and my team. Everything changed when I became a father. I started to see the world and my role in it in a completely different light. Before that I was very harsh, but as a parent I started to look at things in a different way, I learned the balance and to control things in a more calm way. I took certain decisions and started creating a more positive environment for the team. This was a long and slow process. Luckily I am very determinate. Also creating an open space with the offices, experimental kitchen, library and dining room for the staff to socialise and eat together was part of this plan.
The journey to this stage was pretty long and rough. I had to confront myself with my demons, with all the darkest parts of me to understand what I don’t want to be and to become what I am now.
Go to the last chapter – Chapter 6 (about Japan, Australia and the new restaurant) .