René Redzepi: In His Own Words

RENE REDZEPI: My name is René Redzepi, I'm from Denmark. Em, I'm 32 years old. My father's Macedonian. I've grown up partially in Macedonia. My father's Muslim. My mother's Danish. So I've had a very different upbringing then most people from Denmark, because when we used to be in Macedonia, life was very different from Denmark. For instance, there was no refrigerators; there was only 2 cars in the city. And you know, the whole family lived together in a house and everything was, was evolving the meal. The whole day was planned around the meal . People were farmers and if you had to have a chicken you slaughtered the chicken. If you wanted to have a glass of milk you had to actually milk the cow. (Laughs) I never tasted coca cola until I was 10 years old. If we wanted the drinks—em, my aunt, she took the old rose leaves and she put sugar water over them to infuse and so on and so on. And then in Denmark, when we were there it was just a normal school life and I never expected to be a chef. As so many young kids when they, when they, when they finish the first part of school they don't know which direction. And then I was the same I just followed a good friend who wanted to be a chef and I thought okay, I have nothing else to do, nothing better. And so I followed him and on the second day of school there was a competition where the teacher asked us to cook a dish, that we wanted to. It could be whatever we wanted and we would be judged on how it looked and how it tasted. And this is of course many years ago, there was no internet and so on. So we immediately we, we looked into our books and magazines and so on to find a dish and I was 15 when I started my chef schooling and I remember that that was one of the first times in my adult life, my so called adult life, that I had to take a standpoint on anything. You know what was important for me back then was when I'm gonna go to the… and play soccer. Those were the decisions I had to make. Not major ones or not anything where I really asked myself what do I really like about something.

Platelist: The Worlds Best Chef
Chef Rene Redzepi

REDZEPI: And this was the first time I asked myself, what is it I like about food, how do I win this? What do I have to do to to to win this. And then we started looking in—I had my, these childhood experiences of roasting chicken in the oven and the fats and juices melting down into the rice underneath it in the oven and so on and so on. So we cooked chicken with rice in a cashew nut sauce. Cashew, I've never heard about it before but I love nuts, so I thought it was a little exotic, a little modern, a little innovative. And we cooked that and unfortunately there was a, (Smiles)there was a person in the competition, he was a trained butcher. So he made a ham salad you know that was eh, that won it. We became second. But ever since then, I think combined with what I've had as a child; I've just never been in doubt. I've always worked as a chef and always really all the time tried to, to work on becoming better at what I do and becoming clearer and clearer, clearer and clearer in our, in my way of defining who I am as a chef.

Do you think that your Macedonian roots or your Danish roots have more of an effect on your cooking?

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