Culture

René Redzepi’s new Apple TV show Omnivore premieres this July

We chat to the Noma chef about his sizzling new eight-part documentary series.
René Redzepi and his staff at Noma, a still taken from his TV show Ominivore
René Redzepi and his staff at Noma, taken from Omnivore show's first episode, 'Chile'.

It took eight directors doing hundreds of interviews across 17 countries and five continents to create Apple TV’s goliath new series Omnivore. While it’s not a travel show, it’s not just a food show either, instead melding the genres to intriguing results. “About 10 to 12 years ago, I was offered to do TV, I never had any desire to be on TV just for the sake of it. But then I started thinking… If I was ever to do something for television, what would it be? And that was the first idea of what became Omnivore,” says Noma chef René Redzepi to Gourmet Traveller on the phone from Copenhagen. “To take shows like Planet Earth with that sort of respect and dedication to the natural world, but [apply it] to the food world.”

Abaneesh Sahadevan Nair on a boat with bananas in Kerala, India, as featured in Apple TV show Omnivore.
Abaneesh Sahadevan Nair on his family’s banana farm in Kerala, India, as featured in Omnivore.

In what would prove a serendipitous meeting, executive producer Matt Goulding found himself at dinner at Noma, where the pair got talking. “It really was an incredibly fortuitous moment when René and I came together there,” says Goulding. The producer, who had worked closely with the late Anthony Bourdain was at a crossroads when he met Redzepi. Omnivore became his next step, a series that explores bigger truths behind food to understand culture, modern society and the natural world itself.

Each episode in the eight-part series examines a different central ingredient – chilli, pork, rice, salt, coffee, banana, corn and tuna – observing the sociological history and culinary uses of each. “We want to really get down to the essence of who we are, as told by those ingredients. And sometimes that means really delicious, high-end cooking, but normally it means the everyday heroes that are growing our food,” says Goulding.

The series visits the Spanish region where there are more pork recipes than there are villagers (La Alberca); finds out how chillies spread so effectively across the world (via birds and humans); and shows how to make kimchi with Korean students (salt and time are key ingredients).

Matt Goulding and René Redzepi worked together with a crew and cast of hundreds to bring Apple TV show Ominivore to life.
Matt Goulding and René Redzepi worked together with a crew and cast of hundreds to bring Omnivore to life.

It also poses questions about the way we eat and how we place value on food. “We often take food for granted and we forget how important it is. It’s more than basic survival. It’s the culture that we eat. It makes us who we are, it’s what makes life livable, fun and enjoyable; sharing meals, eating well,” says Redzepi. While there are plenty of joyful moments depicted, there’s also time for reflection on how our food systems work and how they are broken.

“We wanted to infuse each episode with meaning and important questions, but not spoon-feeding everyone the answers,” says Goulding. “I think Omnivore asks questions at every possible turn, and occasionally gives you the context to find your own answer.”

Omnivore premieres on Friday, 19 July, exclusively on Apple TV+. Don’t have an account? Sign up for Apple TV+ and receive a seven-day free trial.

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