Mama cooks for the stars
● 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.”
CULINARY HERITAGE Nadine Levy Redzepi and her three daughters, who inspired her to write a recipe book