Top chef René Redzepi says he had ‘many, many hours of therapy’ to deal with his bullying behaviour
Renowned chef René Redzepi has opened up about how he faced up to his own bullying behaviour in the kitchen.
The chef behind the three Michelin-starred Copenhagen restaurant Noma said he is “still processing” his feelings of “anger and fear” that fuelled his outbursts.
Noma has been named the world’s “best” restaurant five times and Reszepi was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2012 for revolutionising Nordic cuisine.
But the chef said that his early years of success, following the opening of Noma in 2003, saw him cracking under pressure regularly and losing his temper at staff.
He wrote in 2015 that he had “been a bully for a large part of my career”.
Speaking to The Times in a new interview, published on Monday (28 November), he said it took him “many, many, many, many hours of therapy” to understand where his anger came from.
“That’s a very specific moment, which I can’t talk about because it’s way too traumatic, when I started asking, ‘Where does all this anger come from?’,” he said.
“Finding that out was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s something I’m still processing. Typically it comes from your childhood, and when I found that out, that’s when I could start really letting go of the anger and fear.”
Redzepi, who is preparing to open a Noma pop-up in Kyoto’s Ace Hotel in Japan next spring for a limited time, said he used to promise himself he would not have meltdowns in the kitchen at the end of the day, but could not keep to it.
He recalled returning home and asking himself why “these insignificant incidents in the kitchen [are] disasters” to him.
“I would tell myself, ‘Tomorrow, I’m not going to do it’. And then I’d go back and within an hour I would be furious. Those are some of the worst times of my life,” he admitted.
In 2020, he told The World’s 50 Best publication that being in a high-intensity kitchen was like being in “a pressure cooker”.
“The steam explodes in your face and you start seeing versions of yourself you didn’t know existed,” Redzepi said. “I told myself either I wake up, go to work and be happy – or be miserable. That was the first decision.
“One of the main things about being a good leader is taking care of yourself. Self-care, reading a book, breathing a little more. Asking for help – that’s a key factor of being a leader.”
Redzepi is married to fellow chef Nadine Levy Redzepi and shares three daughters with her.