Overview: Centered on Nordic cuisine, Noma: My Perfect Storm showcases the roots of Noma, how the restaurant bloomed into the best in the world, and chef René Redzepi, the visionary behind it all; Magnolia Pictures; 2015; Not Rated; 100 minutes.
Bye Bye Bland: The Nordic countries battle frigid landscapes and yet, the dishes served at Noma appear otherworldly. It’s unexpected considering Noma’s pursuit centers on foraging and fishing for ingredients exclusive to the region. The masterpiece dishes appear to invoke all the senses, their texture and colors contrasting the monotonous neutral backdrop of concrete gray, white, and brown. Chef René Redzepi dominates the film as the central figure dreaming up visions and putting them into action. That is not to say, the kitchen staff have their own recognition in a silent, collective manner–an extension of René contributing to the symbiotic relationship.
The Norovirus: Noma’s history boils down to a story of the underdogs overcoming the host disbelievers. Amongst other foodies, René’s intense, no bullshit leadership style and the concept of literally reversing back to Nordic roots in order catapult Noma ahead of restauranteurs and chefs, initiates conversation. As a standalone competitor in the arena of films and as far as documentaries go, Noma gleans more on the side of informative with oddly chosen guests and veers away from the food. How are they connected to Noma? The lack of oversight in bridging relevance diffuses the sense of relatability. With any documentary, sharing relevant information and blending the facts plays a role in the overall fluidity. The lines of quoted review publications and the journalist speaking fight for the viewer’s attention. René’s acuteness and strong-handedness emanates from the tense meetings to the non-judgemental experimentation sessions. The challenging hurdle for director, Pierre Deschamps, undoubtedly remains to be carrying the sense of emotion throughout the film, portraying the peaks and valleys of the Noma staff. The entire concept of Noma resides in the ingredients. Where do the plants come from? Furthermore, what are the plants? More often than not, the sprigs and florets bring to mind weeds overtaking backyards everywhere. The technical aspects behind selecting the flora do not manifest. Show a deconstruction of a plate and the localization becomes more apparent. Experiencing Noma as a customer and being voted as the best restaurant in the world, changes people. It changes everything. How does Noma reinforce change? It doesn’t. With an accolade of being the best of the best, Noma deserves a comparable film.
See It: With farm-to-table or farm-to-fork establishments popping up at a rapid rate, a seasonal menu highlighting a region’s local produce no longer seems out of reach. René either defined the newfound direction of “eating local,” predicted it, or both. The importance behind René’s vision alters the entire consumption model, how chefs and diners perceive food. René’s barebones success model relies on failure: the ability to expect failure and fail repeatedly. His previous failures built up the ongoing process of improvement. The question is: What’s next?
Final Thoughts: Foodies, watch Noma. Learn from the best. Eat. Repeat.
Featured Image: Magnolia Pictures