Andrew Fielke teams with a ‘Great Dane’ to awaken Australian minds to our true regional cuisine.
Words by Ainsley Campbell
Top chef and international cooking sensation Rene Redzepi, owner of NOMA restaurant in Copenhagen, touched down on Australian soil last week as part of his worldwide tour to promote the release of his new cookbook – A Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine.
Redzepi has built his cooking empire on the philosophy of using only native ingredients in his restaurant, ensuring 98 % of the produce used in his creations is sourced from within a 100km radius of Copenhagen. Redzepi and his kitchen team regularly partake in foraging trips in his home country to source only the freshest and in season ingredients, including such things as wild sea roses and birch sap.
The cooking master began his Australian adventure in Sydney as part of the CRAVE Sydney Food Festival. He spoke to an audience of around 1500 people, all of whom had bought tickets to see the Dane launch his cookbook at the Opera House. Rene opened the evening telling the audience of the passion he has for Scandinavian native foods, and even recalling that when he first opened NOMA, people scoffed at his idea to forage for ingredients. This mentality is now rather ironic as he is applauded for his success as a top restaurateur, and the same wild ingredients have been thrust into the mindsets and dinner plates of the people once sceptical.
For the occasion, Andrew and Rene had planned a special surprise for the audience, and throughout his speech Rene commented that as Australians, like the Danish, we should embrace our native foods more whole-heartedly. He went on to make the observation that the audience had not even been curious of the leaves that were placed on their chairs. (Andrew had arranged, with the help of ANFIL members, thousands of native spice leaves to be there for his launch).
In an instant the Opera House was filled with a hurried unwrapping of the bags to find three native Australian leaves packaged inside. Redzepi encouraged the people to crush, smell and chew on the Pepper Leaf, Lemon and Anise Myrtle leaves, resulting in a resounding “oohhs and ahhhs” that filled the auditorium. The experience left the audience with a lasting impression of the Danish chef, and a re-invigorated attitude for the bounty of native tastes and produce in our own backyard. The evening finally ended with an exhausted but happy chef signing cookbooks into the wee hours of the morning.