Chef Rene Redzepi–how he runs Noma, the world’s No. 1 restaurant | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

NOMA’S Chef Rene Redzepi

I was the lone Filipino at the World’s Best Restaurant Awards in London, England, just last Monday, April 30. Except for a few Asians that I had met at the Miele Guide Awards in the past years, it was very unfamiliar territory—pero in true Inquirer spirit, fight lang!

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the awards, it was a very successful event that brought together the world’s best chefs, restaurateurs and food critics. Per Se’s Thomas Keller, Daniel Bouloud, Osteria Francescana’s Massimo Bottura, Iggy’s Ignatius Chan, Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation, were among the chefs of the top 100 restaurants in the world who gathered at London’s Guild Hall for this prestigious event.

With Veuve Cliquot in one hand and the other free to kalabit the world’s best chefs, I approached everyone I could for congratulations and a quick interview.

Annual ranking

The World’s Best Restaurant Awards is an annual ranking of restaurants around the world by Restaurant Magazine. I have had the honor and pleasure of having been part of the jury, called the Academy, for the past five years, but this year I attended the awards for the first time. The Academy is made up of food critics, chefs, restaurateurs and “highly regarded ‘gastronomes’” each of whom has seven votes. Of the seven votes, at least three must be used to recognize restaurants outside your region.

Denmark’s Noma once again received the much-coveted title of World’s Best Restaurant. So I was happy to find myself beside Chef Rene Redzepi after the awards, while he was being bombarded with highfalutin questions about his cuisine: “How does it feel to be the standard bearer of the Nordic movement?” Wow.

Keeping a moment

A casual, cheerful chef who kept patting his colleagues on the back and smiled tirelessly, Redzepi broke down his formula for becoming the world’s No. 1 to this: It’s all about deliciousness!

DANIEL Bouloud

“It’s about becoming a temple of deliciousness, if you will,” he said in a quick interview. Everything centers around this mission to make what you eat delicious. “Cavemen used to just drink and eat,” he explained. “But for us it’s about keeping a moment.”

Perhaps the title of being the “standard bearer of the Nordic movement” developed from the words in Noma’s own website ( “At Noma, we wish to offer our personal rendition of Nordic gourmet cuisine with an innovative gastronomic take on traditional cooking methods, fine Nordic produce and the legacy of our shared food heritage. Moreover, we regard it as a personal challenge to help bring about a revival of Nordic cuisine and let its distinctive flavors and particular regional character brighten up the world… We’ve been busy exploring the Nordic regions discovering outstanding foods and bringing them back to Denmark: Icelandic skyr curd, halibut, Greenland musk ox, berries and water.”

But in this candid moment, after receiving the top title, Redzepi brought it back to basics: “We support our colleagues who are into this movement to promote organic produce. The choice for a healthy ecology is indeed life-changing. But, in the end, it goes back to deliciousness. We realize that the quest for healthy produce is in sync with our quest for deliciousness. It’s simple: If it’s fresh, organic—it’s more delicious. There is a symbiosis.”

Redzepi was extremely grateful to the awards body, sharing that the honor he received has increased the number of reservations at Noma profoundly. The number he gave was indeed astounding: For this coming Saturday, Noma has 1,204 reservations. And his restaurant only seats 40. Otherwise, he says, “Nothing much has changed with me—except I now have two kids.”

He is now being compared to El Bulli’s Ferran Adria, which was ranked World’s No. 1 a record five times. But the humble Redzepi demurred. “Ferran will be [the greatest] chef of all time,” he said.


Another much-admired chef who was honored that night was Thomas Keller of Per Se (2012 Best Restaurant in North America) and French Laundry. He was given a Lifetime Achievement Award. In his acceptance speech, he shared the philosophy which drives him to be so thorough in his cuisine: “Food is about nurturing.” It’s not just about flavors; it must captivate one’s soul.

As yet, there is no recognition for Filipino chefs. But just as Filipino chefs and restaurateurs have made their mark in Asia’s Miele Guide, I believe our time will come, sooner than later!

THE WORLD’S Best Chefs including Thomas Keller (in pink tie); Veuve Cliquot Best Female Chef awardee Elena Arzak; Noma’s Rene Redzepi (5th from right); and Osteria Francescana’s Massimo Bottura (4th from right)

Next year, Restaurant Magazine is launching Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in Singapore. Within the next five years, I hope to see a Filipino chef not just on Asia’s Best list but also on the World’s Best list, alongside the likes of Keller, Alex Atala of D.O.M. Brazil and, yes, Rene Redzepi of Noma.

World’s Top 10

1. Noma, Denmark

2. El Celler de Can Roca, Spain

3. Mugaritz, Spain

4. D.O.M., Brazil

5. Osteria Francescana, Italy

6. Per Se, New York

7. Alinea, Chicago

8. Arzak, Spain

9. Dinner, London

10. Eleven Madison Park, New York

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