In our first installment of coverage from Design Indaba we hear about how upscale food production is about distilling a single moment onto the plate.
After twenty hours of traveling we have made it to Cape Town, South Africa where we will be spending the next three days at the Design Indaba conference. Day One proved to be nothing short of awe-inspiring with talks from creative visionaries, taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Center. Kicking off the day was FoxP2 an independent South African advertising agency, and John Bielenberg of project M and COMMON, who is a past PSFK speaker. Bielenberg is an educator and proponent of ‘thinking wrong,’ which in this case means infecting young people with a retro virus that makes them think differently and try to do good in the world. (More on that subject to come in our interview with Bielenberg.) Also taking the stage were landscape designer Dan Pearson, renowed chef René Redzepi, Eddie Opara of Pentagram, a Pecha Kucha style discussion with Rahim Bhimani, Carly Berger, Renee Rossouw, and Sputniko!, architect Alfredo Brillembourg of Urban-Think Tank, and lastly, data visualization artist, Aaron Koblin with music video director, Chris Milk. A packed day to be sure.
For this installment we’re honing in on the talk by René Redzepi, founder and head chef of Noma restaurant in Copenhagen. He has reinvented the Nordic kitchen and his contribution to gastronomy has positioned him as one of the most influential chefs on the international food scene today. Redzepi addressed how to create original food using freshly foraged ingredients, and to express that point, he was accompanied on the stage by a dead duck, prompting him to ask the question: “What was the last image flying through its head?” Redzepi proceeded to discuss how the biggest challenge as a chef is to distill one moment – a clear sense of time and place, bringing into focus how the idea of projecting time on a plate extends to the restaurant too.
What about the producers? The chef gave credit to the farmers, saying that they were the true heroes of the food served at Noma and that they should be the people on stage, as they are instrumental in everything the restaurant does. Speaking candidly Redzepi added: “We’re not the definitive Nordic cuisine, we’re just throwing seeds in the ground and seeing if what comes up tastes good.”
It was also interesting to hear how his main aim with Noma was wanting to do something that projected the flavor of the future, begging the question “How do you create a new flavor?” It’s clearly not just about the final presentation but the entire collaborative process that is instrumental in bringing the food to the plate. Considering all of the people involved from growing to cooking and presentation is something we rarely think about while indulging in the finished product on our plate, but can add a deeper layer of meaning and enjoyment to the meals we eat.