How René Redzepi Is Giving Back to the Culinary Community in Mexico
His new Noma outpost will feed culinary students for free.
Next week, Noma's new Tulum outpost will start taking reservations for its scheduled April opening. In the meantime, René Redzepi and his team are already in Mexico—and have been for months—sourcing ingredients, finding inspiration, and developing a menu.
"For the last six months, Rosio [Sanchez, former Noma sous chef], a small team and I have been traveling all throughout the country from Merida to Ensenada, from Oaxaca to Guadalajara, and everywhere in between," Redzepi writes. "We searched to find that special chile, to understand the seafood, to taste just a few of the infinite variations of mole, and to find inspiration in the vast and wonderful culture. We encountered some of the most kind and hospitable people to be found anywhere in the world. These were once in a lifetime experiences, which we will transform into a series of dishes and ultimately our menu at our restaurant in Mexico."
While well-heeled fans are sure to sell out Noma's six-week pop-up—meals are $600 a head and the venue is open for dinner only—the fact that the exorbitant price tag is way beyond the reach of locals both in and outside the food industry has not been lost on Redzepi.
To that end, he has pledged to open the restaurant specially in the last few weeks of its tenancy—for lunch, and only for the local culinary community.
"Noma Mexico will only be open for dinner," Redzepi writes on his blog. "However, during the last two weeks of our residency there, we will open up for lunch. All of the seats are reserved for Mexican culinary students. You are invited to come and have the full experience with us, free of charge. We want to cook for you and show you how we have been inspired by your incredible food culture."
That's not all—Redzepi has also announced that Noma will establish a scholarship fund for local students who are interested in studying abroad. "We are also very happy to announce that we are creating a scholarship fund to allow Mexican culinary students to travel to Copenhagen and intern with both Noma and Hija de Sanchez," he writes. "We will set up English classes beforehand, take care of travel, accommodation, and give a per diem. This is something that we are really excited to be offering again." Redzepi previously offered funded international work experience projects "with great success," he says. "And ever since we have been waiting for the right moment to have a project where we can continue fostering our relationship to Mexico, and help give opportunity to young talents."
And, don't worry about Copenhagen's notoriously chilly winters—the internships will take place during the summer, do no puffer jackets required. "Of course, we will make sure that the internships are during summer so you won't freeze your ass off," Redzepi says. Good to know.