Work Vacation to Noma by Chef Abhishek Gupta

Chef Abhishek Gupta recalls his training experience at the two-Michelin-star restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark as his fondest travel tale...

My last vacation was to Copenhagen, Denmark. It was work vacation where I had gone to train at Noma — an iconic two-Michelin-star restaurant run by great chef René Redzepi. I flew from New Delhi to Copenhagen via Qatar Airways.
My experience in Noma was similar to what I experienced when I attempted Scuba diving sometime back. The adrenaline rush was similar to what somebody would get while attempting Sky diving as well. Why I relate my experience to these two adventure activities is because my time there was about seeing a whole new world of possibilities. For a chef, it was similar to first experience of a Scuba diver to explore the depths of seas and admire the sea life that exists or a sky diver with vast horizon to behold. For me at Noma, the feeling of being introduced to unexplored was akin to these two sports.

"My time in Noma and Copenhagen was about thrill and joy of searching new unknown ingredients, excitement about their flavors, anxiousness to jump out of the bed and rush to work." 

Chef Abhishek collecting fresh ingredients

At Noma, it was about working with the best cooks in the kitchen from Peru, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, USA, Brazil and Australia to name a few. It was a feeling of few needles pressured on your mind, it was to transform the energy in your hands to cook, it was a pressure each day to be on the top and admire the immensely fascinating synergy at work.

"Noma is all about consistent hard work and understanding scarifies. You had to keep the passion high each day and amalgamate with 28 different cultures to welcome guest with highest level of commitment to deliver best quality of food."

I felt as if I was in a different world where the concentration was only on the ingredients, understanding the natural flavors that they bring and then using them to the best of the ability with various cooking technique to perfect a dish. 
The surprise and joy that comes when a dish is being created or even an ingredient is explored by the foraging team wandering for resources in the dense Copenhagen forests each day is hard to put in words. I used to be a part of the foraging team and got to spend a lot of time collecting different herbs, fruits, berries, leaves for the restaurant. It took me closer to environment and was simply mesmerizing.

Sourcing fresh ingredients from around Copenhagen.

"I learnt various techniques such as fermentation, hydration and dehydration, sous vide cooking, pickling, vaporization, foraging to name a few."

A lot of learning while training in Noma came from the fact that, the techniques used for cooking and creating new dishes come from inspiration from various cooking traditions around the world, travel, exploration and pushing of your own boundaries. I could co-relate to it with my own upbringing as a chef.

Abhishek Gupta is an executive sous chef at The Leela Ambience Gurgaon Hotel 

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