Mama cooks for the stars

The Times (South Africa) - - Gatherer - By RICHARD VINES

● You cook at home and each day you need to pre­pare meals for one of the world’s best chefs. Some­times, he shows up with mates who are also culi­nary stars, like David Chang of Mo­mo­fuku in New York.

That’s the life of Na­dine Levy Redzepi. Her husband, Rene, runs Noma in Copen­hagen, which has won the ti­tle of World’s Best Res­tau­rant four times.

“I don’t get ner­vous,” she says. “A lot of these chefs are very good friends of ours and have been for a long time. No chef would ex­pect any­one whose house they go to would do crazy things, like with foams or what­ever. When you work with that type of food ev­ery day, you al­most look for­ward to get­ting home-cooked food.”

She has pub­lished a book of recipes that she cooks for her fam­ily and friends. Down­time is as down-to-earth as she is, fea­tur­ing no-non­sense dishes such as baked salmon with thyme and pota­toes, and apri­cot tart — rather dif­fer­ent from Redzepi’s cre­ations, such as a salad with live ants.

Levy Redzepi was born in Por­tu­gal to a Dan­ish mother and a Bri­tish fa­ther who trav­elled across Europe in a van, stay­ing on camp­sites and play­ing the gui­tar to earn a crust.

“I was with my mom, who tried to pro­vide the fam­ily with ev­ery­thing we’d eat,” she says. “We’d be in the fields har­vest­ing beans or walk­ing around the herbs.”

She learned to cook by watch­ing TV shows with chefs such as Ains­ley Har­riott and An­to­nio Car­luc­cio, but her break­through in the culi­nary world came when she got a job as a wait­ress in Noma.

She was is­sued a man­ual on how to be­have, writ­ten by Redzepi. One of the stip­u­la­tions was a rule against dat­ing col­leagues. Then she started dat­ing Redzepi. Se­cretly.

These days they have three daugh­ters. Why go to the trouble of writ­ing a cook­book?

“When I was preg­nant with our old­est daugh­ter, I started writ­ing down my fa­vorite dishes,” she says. “I’ve al­ways been drawn to this idea of a cook­book that was passed down like a fam­ily recipe col­lec­tion. I wanted to give it to my daugh­ters. It still is for them, but also it is for everybody.”

Pic­ture: Twit­ter

CULI­NARY HER­ITAGE Na­dine Levy Redzepi and her three daugh­ters, who in­spired her to write a recipe book

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