René and Nadine Redzepi on judging the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2018
Even by the standards of the culinary elite, 2017 has been an adventurous year for René and Nadine Redzepi.
A seven-week pop-up in Tulum, underneath the verdant fronds of the Yucatán Jungle, raised Noma’s profile to new heights. Thereafter René journeyed through the Nordics in preparation for the restaurant’s much-anticipated relaunch in February 2018 – encouraging foragers, farmers and fishermen to step up their game, seeking out designers and craftspeople to complement the offering, and witnessing the wonders of nature. ‘It’s a once in a lifetime feeling,’ he declares, ‘to be in an ice fjord, somewhere in northern Greenland, seeing 20 whales per hour.’ Back in the Danish capital, René has relocated the Noma test kitchen to the Redzepi home in Christianshavn (a temporary plywood structure stands in their backyard, though operations often spill into Nadine’s kitchen), and spends his days experimenting on a seafood menu for the inaugural season.
Nadine, on the other hand, fulfilled a longtime dream in publishing Downtime: Deliciousness at Home. It’s the culmination a nine-year recipe collecting project, which started when she and René had their first child. For her, the distinction between restaurant and home cooking lies in the latter’s flexibility. ‘The dishes [in my book] are very forgiving, so it’s easy to change things up,’ she says. But this is no ordinary home cookbook. It’s also a document of the Redzepis’ life together – there’s the fusilli with spicy chicken liver sauce from the first time she cooked for René, recipes inspired by the likes of Juan Mari Arzak and Alain Ducasse, and of course, Japanese and Mexican-inflected dishes picked up during Noma’s international sojourns. ‘When we cook the dishes, we are immediately taken to these places again.’
The controversial 60m-tall statue of Guerrero Chimalli, by Mexican sculptor Sebastián, installed in 2014, guards the main road to the eastern suburb of Chimalhuacán. Photography: Adam Wiseman. See the winners of our Judges' Awards here
The Redzepis spend about a month in Mexico each year, so their fondness for its capital comes as no surprise. René in particular likes that certain pockets of the city still feel like a village. ‘Mexico City has quaint, beautiful market spaces the size of Copenhagen neighbourhoods, and food is everywhere,’ he remarks. ‘You can go to museums, find beautiful art, but you can also see the pyramids. It’s just incredible.’ Judging the Best City category, they were torn between this and Singapore, where they spent a week after Noma’s Australian pop-up. ‘They have all these huge glass buildings, with gigantic trees reflected off them. You feel like you’re in a city that’s grown out of a park,’ recalls Nadine. She grew up in Portugal, and was immediately taken with the understated aesthetic of our Best New Hotel, Lisbon's Santa Clara 1728. ‘The use of concrete reminds me of a hacienda in Mexico.’
Meanwhile, Max Nuñes’ Ghat House, winner of the Best New Private House award, charmed the Redzepis with its simplicity. ‘I like that there’s lots of light from above, coming into all the nooks and crannies,’ says René. Likewise, he calls the Core Pavilion, created by Designer of the Year Philippe Malouin, ‘simply stunning’. ‘I love things that have practical use but also take the shape of art in public spaces,’ he concludes. ‘Art should not just be reserved for museums.’
A version of this article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*227)