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Denmark Will School Chefs in Global Problems and Solutions

Category: Food & Drink,Lifestyle

Mr. Redzepi has long challenged the parameters of restaurants, and food itself. With his work at Noma, he became the global avatar of the naturalistic New Nordic movement. Starting in 2003, he herded famous chefs from around the world into the wilderness for Cook It Raw, an annual hunting-gathering junket into the wilds of places like Japan, Lapland and the Lowcountry of the American South. He closed the original Noma in 2017, then recreated versions of it in Japan, Australia, and Mexico before reopening in Copenhagen in 2018.

Since MAD was formed in 2011, its Symposium has brought chefs, farmers, academics and activists to Copenhagen every two years for a meeting that has become a kind of Davos for the food world, with admission by application only. Each gathering incorporates not only lectures and workshops on subjects like carbon-footprint reduction, but also events like singalongs, Vedic breathing exercises, live-chicken decapitation and endless waves of innovative food like cauliflower ceviche tostadas, raw abalone, pork cracklings and goat-milk ice cream.

The Gastro-Akademi is an outgrowth of the nonculinary side of the Symposium, where talks have grown ever more grave in recent years, addressing sexual harassment, glacial melt, the behavioral economics of tipping and mental illness. MAD has also collaborated with Yale University on a leadership summit, and some of the same chefs who have participated in the Symposium — David Chang of the Momofuku restaurants, Kylie Kwong of Australia and the transplanted American Rosio Sanchez — are advisers on the development of the academy.

One, Jessica Koslow of Sqirl in Los Angeles, said MAD sessions have shown that the restaurant industry, which used to be intensely nationalistic, has become global in its outlook and concerns. “Some things about the industry are the same no matter if you’re cooking in Turkey or India or Italy,” she said.

“You can be an amazing chef, but if you can’t lead, or lead by example, there should be questions about your work,” she said. “MAD is asking the tough questions that you don’t ask when you’re a chef and all you think about is checking off your list of what you need to cut.”

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