Noma chef René Redzepi has brought his entire team to Australia for their 10-week Sydney residency at Barangaroo and four of the key members are Australian. We caught up with team leader Katherine Bont to talk days off, catching up with family and friends, and showing the folks from Copenhagen a good time.
Member of the Noma family since…
How did you end up at Noma?
I was living in Hokkaido, Japan, and it was time for a change. I actually responded to a tweet from René (Redzepi, chef/co-owner), and a week later flew over to meet the team and check out the restaurant. It went well. Six weeks later I moved my life to Copenhagen.
What's your favourite Noma dish and why?
The first time I dined at Noma in 2012 I had a dish of sliced fresh chestnuts, lumpfish roe and a butter sauce. The simplicity of this dish, together with the luxuriousness of the ingredients and the varying textures, is something I'll always remember.
What are you looking forward to most?
I've been travelling and living overseas for 10 years, so I'm really looking forward to being back in Australia for some months. I've already discovered and learnt more about Australian native products in the last year talking with the R&D team after their research trips to Australia than I knew myself as an Australian. I look forward to building on this, and discovering further the vastness of our land and its ingredients. I'm also very excited to see what the kitchen will be doing with the ingredients they've found on their travels.
How different is the Sydney set-up to what goes on in Copenhagen?
It's quite different, but also bears a lot of similarities as well. Ultimately what brings it all together, though, is the team. I hope Sydney can experience this journey with us, and have fun with it! Just the idea that we've relocated the team to the other side of the world, and are working with ingredients so unfamiliar to us… I hope Sydney can take from that an unafraid attitude. I also feel like we'll be bringing a lot of this trip home with us to Copenhagen as well.
What's your fondest memory of the Noma Australia journey so far?
The whole 12 months and the anticipation leading up to it has been magical. But being invited by the Australian Ambassador to a farewell reception with the Noma team would be the most memorable so far.
What will you do on your days off?
I want to visit Taronga Zoo, swim in the ocean, take a trip out to Cabramatta (Vietnamese heaven), catch up with old friends and colleagues, as well as the new ones we're bound to make along the way.
Where will you eat when you're not working?
Yum cha on Sundays, late nights at Golden Century or Chat Thai, Chinatown food courts (specifically Sussex and Dixon streets), fish 'n' chips on the water, Ester, Acme, Automata, Mary's, Porteño, Belles Hot Chicken... I have a big list!
And for a drink?
I love Bulletin Place and always love to start an evening off with a negroni.
What are your expectations for Noma Australia?
I hope that not only the restaurant, but the team members individually, take away from this a whole new wealth of ideas and inspiration and that everyone enjoys the process and journey of discovery while here.
What's your favourite Australian flavour or ingredient?
Lamingtons are one of my all-time favourites. I've made them a couple of times for the team in Copenhagen on Australia Day and it would be a dream to see a Noma recreation of that.
What do you crave when you're away?
Of all the places in the world I have lived in the past 10 years, nowhere compares to the variety of food we have in Australia, and I miss having that available. Specifically, fish 'n' chips with the family sitting by the water and Bundaberg ginger beer.
Which three things are on your must-do list before you leave?
Having some lazy Sunday brunches, a day at the beach with lunch at The Kiosk, and as much family time as possible.
Fast-forward to the 10-week residency coming to an end. How will you celebrate with the Noma crew?
I'd imagine a big barbecue together by the water would be ideal, but a gathering together somewhere like Golden Century late at night after the last service would be great, too.