A ‘very happy 2015’ to all of our wonderful Destination MO readers. Whatever this New Year has in store, we hope it goes some way towards meeting your goals, dreams and aspirations.
Mandarin Oriental is in the business of making dreams come true, and this January we will be knocking the ball far out of the park for many of you committed foodies out there. As you will know, the Group has serious kudos when it comes to the luring of highly decorated chefs to its kitchens: Heston Blumenthal, Daniel Boulud, Carme Ruscalleda and Thierry Marx are among a highbrow cast of top-name chefs who have brought their own particular brand of culinary magic to the hotels’ restaurants. Like an Oscar speech, there are many others we could mention; apologies for not listing you all here – you (and we) know who you are.
So, your restaurant has won ‘Best Restaurant in the World’ in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards four times. You have published lauded cookbooks and journals, and inaugurated the annual MAD symposium (the TEDx of food conferences). What’s your next move? Well, if you’re Danish food wizard René Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant, you transplant your entire 65-strong team to Japan for a five-week residency at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo. With more than 58,000 requests for tables and a run that now extends into February, Redzepi and his chefs will be delighting 3,360 lucky diners with their innovative cuisine, the inspiration and ingredients of which are firmly based on the landscape in which they are operating.
Spellbound by Japan and its cultural and culinary traditions, the Dane and his sous-chefs paid multiple trips to the country to study its food preparation rituals and to visit its practitioners. From monks in temples to hunters in forests, they understudied their teachers – did you know it takes between seven and nine years to train to cook and prepare sushi rice correctly? – and began to plot their menu.
Particularly inspired by Kaiseki cuisine, which is known for its exquisite presentation and intricate construction, Redzepi decided to adopt this ritual for his Tokyo residency. And as a self-confessed ‘vegetable guy’ whose creations also include fried fish scales, shaved cod liver and red ants with crème fraiche (which come with the mantra ‘rooted in time and place’), all bets are off when considering what he has up his talented sleeve, menu-wise. But one thing he won’t be serving is sushi rice – except perhaps as a dessert!
Zoë Manzi, Editor, MO magazine, The Condé Nast Publications
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