Nadine Levy Redzepi on cooking as a child, collecting her grandma’s recipes and being married to Noma’s René Redzepi – plus six beautiful family recipes from her brilliant new cookbook
What to feed the best chef in the world? For 19-year-old Nadine Levy, on a night off from her job front of house and cooking for her new boss and boyfriend, it was chicken livers with tomatoes and chilli. She wasn’t to know it was René Redzepi’s favourite meal as a child. It was 2005, they were breaking the strict Noma rule against dating other staff but Redzepi had thrown a piece of bread at her head and made her his “seal-the-deal” pasta. The cheffy spaghetti worked and she was won over.
Love of food played a major part in Levy Redzepi’s early life. “It starts really, really early for me,” she says. “My good memories are all connected to food.” Her parents were buskers with two young kids living on a Portuguese smallholding. Money was tight but while her beloved older brother went to school (he was eight when she was born and got to name her after the Chuck Berry song), Nadine played in the fields, picked fruit and herbs and olives with her mum. Her clearest recollection from Portugal is of eating pomegranates from the tree, still warm from the sun. A good neighbour would regularly pop by with buckets of ripe tomatoes. It was almost Arcadian. But her father drank and when life went wrong her brother would cover her eyes and sing to her. Not all memories are happy.