Tuesday, December 15, 2015

NOMA: My Perfect Storm movie review

Even after reading the NOMA:Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine cookbook and going to see chef Rene Redzepi speak, I am still curious about the restaurant and the chef. Short of flying off to Copenhagen and dining at the restaurant (it’s on my bucket list!) I really enjoy reading anything I can about this restaurant that has been chosen “#1 in the world” four times.

The latest attempt to dig deeper into the Noma phenomenon and psyche of chef Rene Redzepi is the feature length documentary, Noma: My Perfect Storm. Towards the beginning it’s easy to fall under the spell of the chef and his concept for the restaurant. It’s a concept which has had and will continue to have a ripple effect. Because really, this is more than just about one chef or one restaurant, it’s about a philosophy that is changing food, cooking and how we approach it everywhere. It's about creating a cuisine that reflects time and place in the most authentic way possible. Not surprisingly, it’s also about the process of pursuing something great.
René Redzepi in NOMA/ MY PERFECT STORM, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit/ Pierre Deschamps
While I was initially inspired by much of the film there comes a turning point where frankly things get a bit ugly. And things did get very ugly in 2013. Not just that the restaurant lost its top honor, but also there was a norovirus incident that closed the restaurant down completely for a while. What happened? How did the restaurant end up as #1 and then lose its way? Or did it lose its way at all? Does it even matter? All of this and much more is explored. It’s an almost brutally honest film. There is no sugar coating. There are interviews with many people—chefs from inside the restaurant and beyond, purveyors, food critics and even a childhood friend of the chef. There are many scenes which take place in the kitchen, very few in the dining room. The photography of the food is breathtaking beautiful and yet some of the interactions in the kitchen can also be painful to watch.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I do urge you to see this film, especially if you are interested in Noma or in the changes undergoing restaurant and food culture today. Theater dates and how to watch on demand.