I first met Alex Atala in London at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in 2006. We were but insects among giants and stood sheepishly in a corner, trying to catch a glimpse of the “real” chefs we had long admired. The announcer began the countdown with No. 50, which was Alex’s São Paulo restaurant, D.O.M. He stood up and began striding toward the stage. He’d gotten about halfway there — the room silent, all eyes on him — when the announcer cried out, “No, no, you’re not meant to come up here!” And just like that, everyone knew who Alex was.
Alex is a striking figure, with his skull tattoos and piercings, his flaming hair and beard. He is also one of the most dedicated people I have encountered in our industry. Selflessly, he has surrendered to the enormous task of shaping a better food culture for Latin America. His philosophy of using native Brazilian ingredients in haute cuisine has mesmerized the continent.
In hindsight, Alex’s taking center stage that day in 2006 was an omen. An insect no more, he is a giant among chefs.
Redzepi is the chef and a co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen
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