Along with the first rainfall in what seemed like months, this past Tuesday, San Francisco also welcomed Chef René Redzepi to town. The founder and head chef of Noma, the current number two on The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, came to the Castro Theater to present his newest work. The book, A Work in Progress, actually is more of a visually stunning collection of three works; one part cookbook, one part coffee-table collection and one part personal journal. The journal aspect was the heart of Tuesday evenings talk highlighting personal narratives of failure, fear and most importantly creativity.
Lars Ulrich of Metallica introduced the night by discussing how he tried to answer Redzepi’s question “What is creativity?”. Ulrich’s essay “Unafraid,” which is the introduction to the book series, answered just this. Regardless of the medium, creativity comes from overcoming fear; from being unafraid. Redzepi took the stage shortly after and in between a tidal wave of unexpected profanity, he shared select intimate stories from a surprisingly low point in his life.
From this pit, he shed light on some moments where creativity somehow flourished. “Trash Cooking” was an exercise in using ingredients that would normally just be thrown out during the winter in Copenhagen. Example? Lamb’s brain. The chefs spent days learning about this forgotten part: figuring out what it was made of, how it functioned and how it was used in other cultures. After many failed ideas and attempts, like having the skull be the vessel of plating and frying it in thin slices like bacon, Noma tried a ‘brain spread.’ The brain was pureed, ridding it of any textural turnoffs, and served with grilled pieces of bread. After much work, the brain ultimately became a “Trash Cooking” success.
“If we’re not failing, it means we’re not pushing hard enough."
To balance failure, perfection, and innovation is an obsessive process. Redezepi said, "Success is a marvelous thing, but it can also be dangerous and limiting…We’d always put all our efforts in people and creativity not commodities.”
Having fun, giving a damn, and working hard everyday seems to be the key to keeping creativity and innovation alive. While it’s bold to compare ourselves to any of Rene Redzepi’s work, the themes and philosophies highlighted in A Work in Progress are what we, at Boba Guys, are trying to strive for in our own small scale evolution. A constant evolution of ultimately learning how to be unafraid.