Packaged together with a cheerful yellow band, the three volumes of Rene Redzepi‘s latest cookbook are almost sculptural, but it is what is inside that is most intriguing. Unlike more traditional food publications, “A Work in Progress” puts emphasis on the unique thought process and creative philosophy that has distinguished Noma as a restaurant and Redzepi as a chef.
The smallest, dark green volume, “Snap Shots” captures a year in the life of Redzepi and his staff as they forage, camp, play, work and taste. Reminiscent of an Instagram feed, the majority of the photos are candid and give an insight into day-to-day kitchen operations; failures as well as the triumphs.
The second volume, “Rene Redzepi Journal” gives an intimate account of the high-pressure environment and experimental methods that fuel Noma’s elite reputation. Filled with curses, musings and notes, the diary strips away some of the mysticism around Redzepi and creates a refreshing sense of accessibility. Coupled with the images from “Snap Shots,” the softcover volume offers the piece that is always missing from large glossy cookbooks from Michelin starred chefs—the late nights, the early mornings, the disasters and revelations that go into making each plate look effortless.
The third tome, “Noma Recipes,” is a more traditional cookbook with sumptuous imagery of Redzepi’s vibrant dishes alongside advanced recipes that are sure to intimidate even the most equipped home chef. Catalogued by month, this chapter demonstrates the seasonal philosophy that Redzepi outlines in his journal. None of the books is the main attraction, but they perfectly complement each other.
Simple and personal, “A Work in Progress” is a thoughtful example of how the world’s top chefs can connect with their followers on a new level and truly give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the mysteries of their kitchens.
Officially released 11 November 2013, “A Work in Progress” is available for pre-order now through Phaidon or Amazon for $41.
Photos by Graham Hiemstra