The week that was (3 March 2017)

- As we continue our march towards the 50 Best (along with the trickle of publicity stunts that precedes the awards each year) it was announced that Heston has won the Lifetime Achievement Award. “I consider the past 20 years my apprenticeship,” he says. “I’m only just getting started.”
- Staying with the list (and those up top) I was interested to read El Celler de Can Roca have their own psychologist. “We all have to move on from a time when the kitchen was about pure discipline and toughness … We’re all obsessed about anything going wrong with our kitchen equipment, but somehow don’t always pay so much attention to the human machinery.” The psych visits weekly. Look after your staff and naturally they will then look after your customers. Simple, really.
- noma closed the doors of its Stradgade 93 restaurant on the weekend. In a further example of the above, Rene used the moment to announce a number of partnerships which will help take the restaurant to its new location in Christiania: “… it gives me incredible joy to let the world know that our restaurant managers Lau and James, and our dishwasher, Ali, have become partners in noma. This is only the beginning, as we plan to surprise several more of our staff with a piece of the walls that they have chosen to work so hard within. This move is one of the happiest moments of my time at noma.”

Ali is the real story here. He's been with the restaurant for 13 years, has 12 children and, according to Rene, " ... is the heart and soul of noma. I don't think people appreciate what it means to have a person like Ali in the house. He is all smiles ... And, by the way, my own father was also named Ali, and he too worked as a dishwasher when he came to Denmark." Makes your heart swell, no?

Mt Etna is erupting. There is a striking beauty in the sight and sound of an eruption. It’s mesmerizing. There’s also a striking beauty to the soil that is left behind – the reason often dangerous areas bordering volcanoes are populated (and so heavily planted). Another wonder of terroir. Those fearing for their Bini or Barraco, don’t, Etna erupts annually and apparently it's nothing to get worked up about.
- Did you know wood can display terroir? The rings, the stress, the good years and the bad are all marked on the rings that lie within - scars on the soul of the decades gone by. A dinner at Firedoor, and subsequent chat with Lennox, also divulged that due to our distinct terroir Australian wood burns hotter than Euro wood. 400 degrees hotter. Whoah.
- Sticking with terroir, you may enjoy Bonné on Saumur and its place in the Loire. It’s an extension of our chats last week regarding the role of the people and the culture when it comes to defining terroir: “Is that really the task, for Saumur to reclaim a noble past? Or is it meant to continue what Rougeard began, to build a reputation where none existed? Somehow, it’s both. This is, after all, a place where elemental contradictions thrive …”
- Coffee cups are all over the press. They’re terrible. Apparently we fill one tram-full every half hour. Apparently they can’t be recycled either. Time to make like the Euros and drink en place or buy yourself a glass cup.
- Looking for something to keep you company this weekend as you hide from the rain? You could listen to Mags and Morgie on The Pass, or Pasi and Giorgio talking with Lee Tran Lam. It’s also a good opportunity to watch a few of the latest eps of Chef’s Table - by all accounts Nancy Silverton is excellent (and I loved Jeong Kwan). I also love that they have matured. As Eater rightfully points out, this series is more human less hero, it appears we have finally moved on from:
“Chef _(Man’s Name)_ has a vision, a vision that _(Nation)_ cuisine will someday be regarded with the esteem it deserves. His _(Family Relation)_ doubted him at first. The critics scoffed. But through hard work and vision, _(Restaurant)_ has become a legend. Now the restaurant occupies the _(Number 1-50)_ on S. Pellegrino’s 50 Best Restaurants list.”
- If you are heading out, watch for the #cookforSyria dishes gracing our menus. So many great chefs have put a dish up for the cause (with a set donation given to UNICEF from each order). Most are available throughout March. We work in a very lovely industry full of very generous and warm hearted people.