The world's best chef in Sydney

Rene Redzepi, chef and co-owner of two-Michelin star restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, visits Sydney to share his love of local food.

Australia's most-popular food blogger Not Quite Nigella, aka Lorraine Elliott, sent her foodie friend Lissalong to hear Noma chef Rene Redzepi speak at the Opera House. The following is a guest post which first appeared on Ms Elliott's blog.

As I head up the Opera House concourse I suddenly catch myself. What am I doing here? Do I belong here? I approach the doors, Helen Greenwood from the SMH to my right, and walk up the stairs. As I approach the large crowd assembled it is pulsating with a buzz and you can feel the excitement.

I decide to go to the bathroom and Kylie Kwong swings past me on her way out. This feels surreal – as I walk out again I glimpse Mark Best from Marque, and internally gasp. Wasn’t I just in Ikea this afternoon?

What’s equally surreal is who I’m about to listen to. I’m here to listen to Rene Redzepi. His restaurant Noma has been named best restaurant in the world by San Pellegrino. I find my seat at the glorious Opera House – designed by another famous Dane, Jrn Utzon. Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, Noma seats only 40 and receives reservation requests of over 1,000 a week. You can imagine what the waiting list is like.

Strangely, the most popular question posed to Rene since his arrival in Australia is ‘has Princess Mary dined at Noma?’. I believe she may even be on that waiting list!

Rene appears, as if he just stepped out of a Ralph Lauren advertisement. Swept hair across his face, blue blazer, untucked dress shirt, straight pants and white, white, white sneakers. He seems down to earth and immediately I am less overwhelmed and more in awe.


Rene, who co-owns and runs the top restaurant in the world, is thirty-two years old. THIRTY-TWO. At the age of 25 he wanted something different for his restaurant; he wanted to get back to what real Nordic cuisine was. And we’re not talking about pickled herrings. But he really didn’t know what it was. So he started his research by reading historical references to what was eaten in the days before food became industrialised. He contacted the authors of these books; in turn, they put in him touch with those who purveyed the food sources. He quickly built a network of local suppliers.

Next he started his education. He discovered just in his local area there were 59 different type of berries, 1,000 types of edible mushrooms and a local supply of sea-urchin, which he had always imported from France previously. He also discovered a local supply of razor clams and over 60 other types of shellfish readily available to him.

It was like a new world, and his vision and dishes came together. A lot of experimentation, using only produce that was readily available to them from their region meant they had to get creative, and creative they are. Noma’s plates are elegant and refined-looking, and with ingredients you may have not even heard of, let alone tried. The dishes are designed so that neighbouring ingredients from the land or seas accompany each other on the dish – taking the locavore approach just that one step further. Rene showed us a video of how he came up with a dish of white asparagus grilled with spruce and then placed on a bed of green asparagus sauce. The spruce tree overlooks the asparagus crop.

This is an abridged version of the original blog post. To read on
click here.

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