Katherine Bont October 18 2017
Over the last decade, the food scene in Copenhagen and Denmark has received worldwide recognition. Fueled by The New Nordic Cuisine movement, the Nordic kitchen has reinvented itself by solely focusing on fresh local (Nordic) ingredients. The flagship behind this transformation has without doubt been world renown restaurant Noma, which first opened its doors to the public in 2003.
The menu is populated with ingredients such as musk ox and wild berries, and sauces are made with beer rather than wine. It has all been very experimental and the success of Noma has enabled other restaurants to step forward and offer local dishes that would once have been regarded as distastefully exotic by conservative diners. The Noma powerhouse has been awarded multiple prizes for it's cutting edge cuisine, most notably the four time award as the worlds best restaurant.
Noma closed the doors on chapter one back in February 17, and after a Mexican summer exploration with a pop-up restaurant in the resort town of Tulum the team is now back in Copenhagen working intensively on the re-opening of Noma 2,0. The driving force behind Noma, home or away, have always been a mix of incredibly talented people with an extreme passion for their profession. One of them is Katherine Bont, team leader at the mythical restaurant. After working as a chef in Australia, Thailand, and Japan she joined the Noma team six years ago, discovering the job-opening through head chef Rene Redzepi´s twitter account.
We teamed up with Kat for a Q&A about her unique workplace and her passion for food and travel.
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I’ve always wanted to travel. I was born in Australia, to 2 Dutch parents. Australia is a beautiful, big country but also very isolated. I remember as a child seeing movies, or television shows, which would show these magical places across the world. I would always dream to be able to visit these areas someday. I left Australia for the first time when I was 21, and have spent the last 12 years doing just that… traveling and living in many countries in that time and feel very lucky each and every day to be able to experience and see the world in that way.
What got you into cooking food and why is it important to you?
I was living with my father since I was 7, and we also took care of my younger sister a lot of the time as well. The evening meal together was always something we would do together. From a very young age I would participate in the kitchen, and then by my teenage years would be cooking full meals by myself. Sharing a meal together in the evenings, or on the weekends, actually became the center of us spending time together. I always have fond memories of friends and family growing up, and they almost always revolve around meals of some kind!
I started my apprenticeship as a chef just after my 16th birthday. I thought the idea of doing something for a living that you absolutely love was certainly for me! I love the act of preparing and cooking a meal, and the joy that brings.
As I began traveling, I also feel one of the absolute best ways to discover a culture, and its people is through the food and the traditions surrounding meal times.
What’s the Copenhagen food scene like right now – are we stuck in New Nordic or you see new developments?
I think the food scene in Copenhagen is fascinating right now! There are of course new places opening up, which is always exciting… and I am still amazed at the events going on within restaurants around the city, and the international visitors it attracts.
The one area which is very slowly opening up, but certainly for me the one huge gap of the food scene in Copenhagen – Asian food! I guess I was spoilt growing up in Australia.. and I can appreciate the climate is slightly different here, regarding produce, etc. but that is one area of the dining scene in this city that I think needs something to step it up and bring some excitement. I am sure it will happen. Merely looking at the ramen scene in Copenhagen now, compared to what it was two years ago… Huge progress! We are also blessed with access to such wonderful produce here in Copenhagen. There’s always that desire to cook at home, especially coming into the colder months.
What is your primary hobby or passion aside from work?
Travel would be the big one! I love visiting new places, exploring.
Cooking. Reading through my collection of cookbooks for ideas, and being inspired by the produce at the markets… sharing a meal with friends, laughs and good wine.
I also like to roller skate. Want to take that up again next summer.
What kind of bag are you currently missing in your everyday life (if any)?
It’s been great talking with some of the team, as it seems some bags are missing in peoples daily life. The most wonderful knife wrap is one for instance. Something durable, practical and able to fit all of their tools.
I also think a beautiful rain bag of sorts is missing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the M/S day pack I have. I would love to see something not only functional like this but durable and utterly waterproof that still looks great! And not like another generic rain bag.
What’s the next thing you’re looking forward to?
Without a doubt, the big thing I’m looking forward to right now is the opening of restaurant noma 2.0. It’s incredible watching the space transform and grow every day.
It’s also exciting to get ready to plant our roots again and bring the team all back to one place. With all the travels we have done together in the previous years, everyone is bubbling with excitement and energy for the new restaurant.
Photo credit to: Laura L.P./HdG Photograph