“Noma: My Perfect Storm” is a revealing look at René Redzepi, co-owner and chief chef of Noma, a Copenhagen restaurant voted best in the world in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 by prestigious Restaurant magazine. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
More than a movie about recipes and restaurant operations, the documentary “Noma: My Perfect Storm” is a bootstrap story.
Its focus is on René Redzepi, co-owner and chief chef of Noma, a Copenhagen restaurant voted best in the world — you read right: in the world — in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 by prestigious Restaurant magazine.
Filmmaker Pierre Deschamps, a trained chef himself, offers a portrait of a man from poor beginnings — he is the son of an immigrant Muslim Macedonian father and a Danish mother, and has vivid memories of watching his mother scrub hospital floors — who, through sheer willpower and singularity of vision, became a master chef of worldwide renown. And did so quickly. He was only in his 30s when fame came and people started flying in from around the world to dine on his dishes.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Noma: My Perfect Storm,’ a documentary directed by Pierre Deschamps. 95 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (language). Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday.
From the testimony of friends and professional colleagues and from Redzepi himself, the audience learns that he developed a guiding vision of creating a cuisine that’s intensely local and innovative.
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The ingredients come mostly from Scandinavia (the name Noma is a mashup of the Danish words for Nordic and food) and Redzepi combines them in inventive ways. Among dishes seen are flat bread and grilled roses; crispy reindeer moss, spice and crème fraîche; and, most startlingly, wild blueberry and ants. Startling, because the ants are alive, crawling over the dish.
Redzepi is an eloquent philosopher of food. He views his ingredients as “inseparable from their environment” and calls them an alphabet from which beautiful prose can be created. He’s a fanatic for freshness and says he wants his customers to “feel the season through what they’re eating.”
Deschamps shot the picture over the course of three years, during which Noma was the center of a 2013 norovirus outbreak that sickened 63 diners and badly damaged the restaurant’s reputation (tainted shellfish was deemed to be the cause). It also lost its best-in-the-world rating later that year. It rebounded to No. 1 status in 2014.
Deschamps’ camera captures the emotional roller coaster Redzepi rode during that tumultuous time and shows his conflicted relationship with fame. He dismisses its importance but also clearly craves it.
The end result is a revealing portrait of an artist wholly dedicated to his art.