René Redzepi’s Copenhagen

The head chef of Noma, which has topped The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list four times, published his latest book, A Work in Progress, in November 2013

René Redzepi in King’s Garden, Copenhagen
René Redzepi in King’s Garden, Copenhagen | Image: Mikkel Heriba

The weekend for me is actually Sunday and Monday. In the past 10 years I’ve had maybe five Saturdays off – and one of those was for my wedding. On Sunday I wake up early because my children, Gente, two, and Arwen, five, rush into the room at 7am. I will have finished work around 3am, so it’s pretty painful. My wife, Nadine, and her mother, Bente – who lives with us – grab the kids and I sleep for another hour. Breakfast is fruit, cold cuts, bread and juice, plus I always make pancakes and brew espressos, which are a sort of gasoline for me. We sit and eat for an hour, maybe two; it’s one of the best moments of the week.

Shopping is at Torvehallerne market, where we weave between the stalls to find the best seasonal produce. We also might stop by The Coffee Collective, which brews one of the best espressos in Europe, or go to Meyer’s Bakery – it is unbeatable for pastries; there are lots of things that are rotten in Denmark, but the Danishes are still good.

Afterwards, we’ll walk to one of the parks, such as King’s Garden, which used to be the king’s vegetable garden. It’s not big, but it’s beautiful. We sit on the grass and, ideally, I will read for an hour or two. Back home, we’ll have some cold cuts and toasted rye bread, then pop open a couple of bottles of champagne and start cooking dinner. It’s funny, I cook for a living, but there’s nothing better than cooking for my family. We always have guests, so there are quite a number of us. I make an array of simple, fresh dishes: mostly vegetables and perhaps one of chicken or fish. After that, I head to bed with my book.

Monday morning is the same story: the kids rush in at 7am. I cook porridge for everyone, maybe adding in some leftover chicken or roast pork, before taking Gente and Arwen to kindergarten and heading to Det Vide Hus, which means “the wise house”. It has amazing coffee and lovely staff. I have yogurt with fruit, a croissant and two double espressos. The best thing is that I’m not rushed, so I can sit and enjoy my breakfast, usually with a friend.

Afterwards, I play squash in the centre of town. On a perfect weekend, of course, I will demolish my opponent. Squash is becoming a real restaurant-trade sport here, so I play other restaurateurs, in particular the owner of Kødbyens Fiskebar, Anders Selmer.

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Even though it’s my weekend, I go to work to catch up on emails and meetings, which I can’t do during the week because I am busy in the kitchen, visiting a farm or going to a forest.

I pick up the kids around 5pm and take them to the butchers, Slagteren ved Kultorvet, which is fantastic. I let them choose their dinner; eight times out of 10 they point to a fat, juicy steak.

I cook for Gente, Arwen and their grandmother. Nadine and I sit with them but don’t eat, because we put the kids to bed and then go out. We might go to Manfreds, a vegetable-oriented restaurant. Unpretentious, lots of flavour, cool vibe, Johnny Cash on the speaker – I like it a lot. Another place is Bror. Last time I was there I had sliced fried bull’s testicles with tartare sauce: delicious.

Typically, we’ll then go to Ved Stranden 10, a wine bar by the canal. Sometimes we eat there instead; on Mondays they invite guest cooks from around town – apprentices, sous-chefs. I have had some wonderful Thai stews and roast belly of pork. They have exceptional wines, too. And there’s also Mikkeller, a beer bar. The owner is a brewer himself and he excels; there are constantly changing beers on tap.

Then it’s home. My days off are time for eating and drinking, as during the week I need to be focused.

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