René Redzepi, whose Danish restaurant Noma has been crowned the World’s Best Restaurant for the third year running, tells BigHospitality how the diminutive but innovative restaurant has been able to remain so consistent.
Redzepi and his team took to the stage at The Guildhall in London last night to accept their award in what was the 10th anniversary of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Despite holding onto the accolade of the world’s best place to eat, the 34-year-old chef is not resting on his laurels.
“There’s actually still room to progress further and become even better,” he said. “I think we’ve been able to progress since winning this award last year and I don’t think we’re at the goal line at all. Just because you receive an accolade, I don’t think you should think ‘great, this is it.’
“At Noma, we always question everything that we do. We have never believed that we are the best restaurant in the world. You should never believe you’re number one of anything and you should always keep looking at ways of refreshing and modernising your offering - that’s our ethos.”
Motivation and inspiration
Redzepi, who was born in Copenhagen - the city where Noma is situated - is seen as a champion of Nordic cuisine. Praised for his ability to consistently reinvent and redefine flavours and dishes, his current menu features the likes of 'cauliflower and pine' and 'pear tree'.
“We try to cook each dish so that every mouthful represents our region in some way - which can be quite difficult,” added the chef. “One of the biggest motivations that we have for Noma is this process of change - that’s what really drives us because we’re always looking for that change and we keep evolving.
“I think the most important thing for any restaurant around the world is to find your inspiration, whether that be figuring out that you want to cook tacos or whatever - just find that inspiration and stick to it because it is what inspires you, not because you want to achieve accolades like this.”
A million bookings
Noma was followed by Spanish heavyweights El Cellar de Can Roca and Mugaritz on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Redzepi’s two-Michelin-star restaurant is now close to matching El Bulli’s record of four years at number one. And, with only 40 covers, it comes as no surprise that bookings are in extremely high demand.
“We probably get between 500,000 and a million booking requests a year now,” explains Redzepi. The amount of requests each month varies depending on the time of the year, ranging from 30,000 in one month to 100,000 in another.
“Diners just have to be patient - bookings here are three months in advance. We do actually have repeat customers, who are very clever because our website only fits 5,000 people at one time, so they just keep refreshing the page until any bookings become available.”
Earlier this month, BigHospitality revealed that Redzepi is to open a pop-up restaurant at London hotel Claridge's this summer to coincide with the start of the 2012 Olympics.
Last night’s 50 Best list, organised by BigHospitality's sister publication Restaurant magazine, did not prove such a success for UK restaurants. The number of British restaurants on the list dropped from four in 2011 to three this year, with St John and Hisbiscus both falling short. It was good news for Brett Graham however - whose London restaurant The Ledbury was the Highest Climber at number 14.
Click here to see the full list.