René Redzepi: In His Own Words

REDZEPI: Macedonian, for sure. Even though today, our restaurant is known for doing a Nordic cuisine you know, a cuisine where we involve our natural products, our culinary heritage. And we've don't, we've stopped looking at our own products as something that doesn't belong in the culinary top. But I think in order to do that, I think it's been such a big advantage for me that I have a little outside upbringing, because if you are 100% native, I think sometimes you, things you grow up with, they are just things you grow up with, you can never put them in another context, therefore I think it's been to a big advantage that I come from outside. You know flat bread for a Scandinavian is a flat bread; it's something you have in your home. You have it in your home and that's it. You could never do anything gastronomical with it and serve it at a restaurant. But, in fact, you can, of course, it's just on how you see it and if you try to open the next door on flat bread and not always entering the same one again and again.

Did your mom or your dad cook?

REDZEPI: Yea, my father, he cooked. And I think that's also very important thing, that you actually get home cooked food. We didn't have, let's say, fancy foods or anything. It could be the most simple things, you hear this story again and again but it just, it really does matter that you actually--that somebody cooked food, home cooked food and you're sitting around a table eating with each other, no television going on and you're looking each other in the eye and you're having a conversation, you're speaking. And you're perhaps even discussing the food if it's good and so on. I think that's a very big part of it.

REDZEPI: And growing up in the 80's in Denmark, I think sometimes it could be very different for the most part of Denmark. It was… Microwaves were out, that was what people ate, ready meals in the oven and so on and so on and so on. So my father, he cooked and that's also been one of these things that I think now that's pushed me in this direction.

Give me one of your first food memories.

REDZEPI: One of my first food memories is watermelon, for sure. Because my family—they don't do that now, now they have cafes in Macedonia, but in Macedonia, they, uh, back then they were farmers and they lived on red peppers and watermelon. And still today, watermelon is something I love eating. And if it's not that, there's also, the one that's very close there's also roasted chestnuts. In the season, freshly roasted chestnuts in the fire with cold milk on as breakfast, that's also a very, very big childhood memory. And then berries of all sorts, but that's a Scandinavian memory.

Everyone always says you're Danish, you're Danish, you're Danish, you're from Denmark, you're from Denmark, would you rather me say this is Rene Redzepi from Macedonia or it doesn't matter?

REDZEPI: I am from Denmark. I consider myself a Dane but I have a different upbringing and also a different culture in my family as my father is a Muslim. But I have a—I consider myself a dane—I have a Danish wife, my child is Danish and I am the Dane, Rene Redzepi with the not so Danish name and some other ways of looking at things and perhaps a normal Dane wouldn't.

Do you eat pork?

REDZEPI: yea. I'm not a Muslim.

But when you were growing up, was pork introduced into your life?

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