Noma My Perfect Storm

“New Nordic” pioneer chef René Redzepei has guided his acclaimed Copenhagen eatery Noma to “World’s Best Restaurant” honors for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. Pretty impressive. But complacency is apparently not in the restless Redzepei’s DNA.

Casting about for a new challenge, he hit upon the idea of temporarily uprooting the entire restaurant and replanting it, staff and all, in our fair megalopolis (at The Mandarin Oriental) for a five-week, sold-out run.

Dutch director Maurice Dekkers follows the process with this involving, observational documentary.

Redzepei’s talented sous-chefs arrive a month early and begin work on creating 14 new dishes that adhere to Noma’s ethos of combining local ingredients with disciplined creativity; dishes that would be unique to Japan and at the same time respectful of its traditions.

We follow them as they tour Japan in search of not just the right ingredients, but also an innate understanding of those ingredients and how they relate to Japan’s rigorous food culture.

What makes this more than reality-show food porn is the atmosphere the genially demanding Redzepei fosters with his dedicated staff. He’s the antithesis of the temperamental “celebrity chef.” When he criticizes a dish (“It’s ingredients with a sauce”), it is received totally without rancor and actually as a compliment, because he’s saying its creator is capable of excellence as opposed to something merely very, very good.

Entertaining and edifying, this will be of special interest to anyone living here, foodie or not.

Japanese title: Noma Tokyo. (88 min).