Recently, a few of the Cookbook Create staff members headed out to The New Yorker Festival, a weekend long series of lectures,
talks and performances from notable figures including musicians, authors, politicians and television stars.
We had the chance to sit in on a lecture from Chef René Redzepi, chef and owner of the 2 star Michelin award-winning restaurant Noma, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Specializing in Nordic cuisine, Chef Reńe opened Noma in 2003, and has won the title of Best Restaurant in the World by San Pellegrino for the past 3 years. At Noma, Chef René and his staff cook and entice guests by structuring meals using the elements of land, sea, and soil. They also live by the motto that nothing is inedible, well unless it is poison. During the lecture, Chef René touched upon foraging (the skill of searching for and gathering food), umami (considered to be one of the basic taste sensations), eating and utilizing bugs, and different cooking techniques. Cooking with bugs has been one of Noma’s biggest distinctions and has definitely helped place them on the global culinary map. The use of bugs in the restaurant is one of Chef René’s masterpieces and displays a playfulness of food and the environment.
The biggest theme of the night was to think beyond what we consider “normal.” Who decides what we eat? What should we be eating? The fun part came when we were handed snack bags, but were instructed not to open them until we were told otherwise. Once instructed to open them, we tasted pureed ants in olive oil, a dried fermented mushroom, pickled rose hip, and crickets that were liquified like soy sauce. I wasn’t expecting to eat ants and crickets that day—or on any day for that matter—but to my pleasant surprise, the ants had a strong lemon flavor, reminding me of what lemon zest would taste like and the crickets really did taste like traditional soy sauce. This just goes to show you that cooking is more than simply placing food on a plate. Chef René and his talented staff at Noma are constantly challenging boundaries and encouraging us to have an open mind, not just out the foods we eat, but about the edible world we live in.