Author Gordinier, Esquire food and drink editor, was having a bit of a mid-life crisis. His marriage had just ended, and he was restless and depressed. Then Rene Redzepi, owner of world famous (but I’m not enough of a foodie-or at least, not a rich enough foodie, to have heard of it) Noma restaurant in Copenhagen. It was 2014 and Redzepi was burnt out, looking for new inspirations, and scared of losing his status as the world’s greatest chef. He decided it was time for a road trip, and Gordinier was invited. The multi-year road trip was hectic, strange, and it pulled him out of his slump.
There were three main stops on the tour: Sydney, arctic Norway, and Mexico. Redzepi wanted to get into what the natives of these places ate, to try and bring something new to the elite world’s palates. He went with the natives of the areas to dig deep into their cuisines, dining on blood sausage, chicken hearts, prickly pears, avocado leaves, tropical fruits, chiles, nuts, palm sugar, tamarind paste, kelp, seawort, ant eggs, and grasshoppers. Then he planned a popup, and gathered his crew of fellow chefs. They tried the things the people brought them, they made new combinations, and they tried cooking them in various ways. Redzepi seems to have a hyperactive energy that he transmits to his crew. The popup runs into troubles, of course, and it ends up costing the select clientele $600 a plate. Which they happily pay, because they revere Redzepi in almost a cult like state.
I found it interesting, but choppy to read. The saga takes place over a couple of years, so Gordinier necessarily jumps in and out of Redzepi’s adventures and his own life. I loved the parts about the food itself. I’m enough of a foodie that it made me hungry to try new foods and make up new combinations, to taste all these great things- minus the ant eggs. I’m not *that* much of a food adventurer. Four stars.