Greetings again from the darkness. One need not be a true foodie to be aware of the rise in popularity of the bombastic, egotistical chefs splattered all over TV as they strive for ratings by out-yelling the competition. Less accessible to the general population – due to cost and/or locale – is the highest level of fine dining that is a cult unto itself. One of the most successful elite restaurants is Noma based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was named “Best in the world” for four out of five years (2010-2014), and yet the owner/chef remains unsatisfied.
Last year, filmmaker Pierre Deschamps provided a profile of Rene Redzepi and his world class restaurant in the film Noma My Perfect Storm. This time, filmmaker Maurice Dekkers takes a different approach. He follows Redzepi and his senior staff as they temporarily relocate Noma to Tokyo in a risky and difficult project.
Much more than a glimpse into a restaurant kitchen, this is an examination of collaborative artistry. Redzepi and his dedicated, enthusiastic team (Lars, Thomas, Rosio, Dan, Kim) strive for perfection in something that can’t be measured. It’s internal pressure and tension within a creative environment … something only the most internally driven can comprehend.
The structure of the film is the countdown to the opening of Tokyo restaurant. All 3000 available reservations for the 6 weeks are sold out, and the waiting list numbers more than 58,000. The team is committed to leaving behind their pure Nordic cuisine and discovering locally sourced new ingredients … a mission that finds them scavenging Nagano Forest and comingling with fish experts at market.
Food is the centerpiece here as the team learns turtle is a local delicacy; they gain respect for Japanese fruit culture that dates back thousands of years; and even tries deep fried fish sperm as a possible offering. But beyond the food, this is about a group stepping outside their comfort zone and trying to find their “voice” – despite a firm belief that nothing is ever quite good enough … a sentiment their customers don’t agree with.