Noma Chef René Redzepi’s New Show Is a Global Quest for Deliciousness — and a Call to Action

The former Noma chef chats with T+L about his new Apple TV+ series, "Omnivore."

<p>Courtesy of Apple TV+</p> Rene Redzepi talking with staff on the Apple TV+ show Omnivore.

Courtesy of Apple TV+

Rene Redzepi talking with staff on the Apple TV+ show Omnivore.

When René Redzepi announced last year that Noma, his much-rhapsodized, three Michelin-starred restaurant in Copenhagen, would be closing, there was a flurry of conjecture about what the food world would look like without it — and what Redzepi might have up his sleeve.

Turns out, he's been working on something just as ambitious: a new docuseries, Omnivore, which premieres July 19 on Apple TV+. Omnivore, co-created with food writer (and Travel + Leisure contributor) Matt Goulding, visits dozens of countries over the course of its eight installments. Each episode focuses on one ingredient — corn, for example, or coffee — from harvest and production to processing to cooking.

<p>Courtesy of Apple TV+</p> A spread of fish, vegetables, and rice seen in a shot from the Apple TV+ show Omnivore

Courtesy of Apple TV+

A spread of fish, vegetables, and rice seen in a shot from the Apple TV+ show Omnivore

With Redzepi as narrator, the screentime is dedicated to fishers, farmers, food workers, and their prized products. The hypersaline Lake Assal, in Djibouti, is the setting for the opening scene of the episode “Salt,” which also visits France, Korea, and Peru. “Chile” takes us to Serbia to learn about paprika, before clocking in for a shift at a Louisiana hot-sauce factory and sweating through a fiery meal at a tiny restaurant in Bangkok.



"The pulse of a city is often found at the markets and how people dine out. I think more and more this is happening because, in a very digitalized world, food is still an analog thing. You gotta sit and taste. "



But with attention paid to topics like climate change and the impact of industrial agriculture, Omnivore also reminds the viewer that everything we eat fits into a larger, increasingly complex system — and that our expansive, delicious earth is also an increasingly vulnerable one.

T+L spoke with Redzepi in advance of the series launch.

Travel + Leisure: How did the show come to be? Is this something you've been thinking about for a while?  

René Redzepi: It's more than a decade in the making. We had been working on something in a similar vein as what Omnivore ended up being, telling the stories of who we are through some select ingredients. And then during Covid, so many decisions were made for Noma and for myself. And one of them was, now it's really time for us.

<p>Courtesy of Apple TV+</p>

Courtesy of Apple TV+

We're curious how you chose the ingredients and decided where in the world they would take you. Was that a long process to narrow down?  

It was. We had a list of 150 ingredients that all had a story to be told. So we figured, why don't we approach it in a different way and ask, What are some of the topics that we want to talk about? 

We knew that we wanted a story on love, our love relationship with food. And that became the chile episode. It is just so mind boggling that we just eat them for pain and pleasure. But we have so many other stories that are incredible. For instance — I won't say too much about it — but we've done a lot of research on vanilla. There are some mind-blowing stories within vanilla that people don't know about.

<p>Courtesy of Apple TV+</p> A worker in a corn field, from the Apple TV+ show Omnivore

Courtesy of Apple TV+

A worker in a corn field, from the Apple TV+ show Omnivore

There's a focus on sustainability and food systems, and you make a point of unpacking supply chains and talking about biodiversity. A lot of food shows leave this out. Why was that important? 

Almost everything that's wrong in the world can be told through food as well. We're just trying to inform you, while entertaining you, that this world of food is the most important thing on planet earth.

The show was always meant to be: Here's a tuna, and there is a way to catch it that's been done for 3,000 years almost the same way. But what has changed is that now, instead of being eaten locally, it goes into the belly of a plane transported to Japan, where it's then cut into pieces. Then some of it ends up in LA in some restaurant in Venice Beach, on a Caesar salad. Funny enough, some of it even ends back where it came from as canned tuna.

That is the modern food system. That is how we eat most of the time. 



"A tortilla with a slight hint of smoke. Eggs are runny as you cut into them. Those are the real experiences, in my opinion. Not a fancy restaurant with caviar. "



Many people are interested in connecting with food culture when traveling. What would you say to someone wanting to explore that?  

Traveling with food as your prism is the most amazing way, in my opinion. The pulse of a city is often found at the markets and how people eat and how they dine out. And I think more and more this is happening because, in a very digitalized world, food is still an analog thing. You gotta sit and taste.

When I travel for myself, I travel very, very slow. I actually travel and walk. I have walked the Camino de Santiago three times — the last one I did was along the coast of the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias, and into Galicia. That was 500 some miles. So I spent a lot of time in small mountain villages where there are mostly cows, and you stay in somebody's home, and you eat what they eat. Once you talk to people, they will always point you into something amazing. They always know someone.

<p>Courtesy of Apple TV+</p> Raising a toast with snacks, in a still from the Apple TV+ show Omnivore

Courtesy of Apple TV+

Raising a toast with snacks, in a still from the Apple TV+ show Omnivore

Any favorite places that you find yourself returning to?

I have my specific places in the world where I really find so much joy and inspiration: I find it in Japan, I find it in Mexico, I find it particularly in northern parts of Spain. I also really, really love Turkey — Istanbul, particularly, is a big favorite of mine. My family are of Albanian heritage, so it's almost the same food. And the country of Georgia has mind-blowing food, mind-blowing wine.

Next, I'm going to the Basque Country. I'm spending 14 days just walking from place to place, stopping in, doing some research. Nothing can beat those moments — to actually go into this little inn where there's a grandmother and a son working together, and they make a tortilla like they have been for 80 years, and they just went outside to pick the chives in the morning to sprinkle on, and it's cooked over the wood-fired oven. A slight hint of smoke. Eggs are runny as you cut into them. Those are the real experiences, in my opinion. Not a fancy restaurant with caviar. 

Omnivore debuts on Apple TV+ on Friday, July 19. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

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