The second annual MAD food symposium spearheaded by Noma chef Rene Redzepi took place this week under a blue and yellow circus tent pitched on a hay-strewn meadow at the edge of Copenhagen. An audience of international food devotees lucky enough to score tickets descended on the Danish capital to hear speakers address the role of the chef in a world whose food system is increasingly complicated.
MAD is a tantalizing mix of high-minded intentions and the best chefs in the world (with occasional moments of the sanctimonious, bizarre or poorly translated) in a Nordic setting free of the telltales of commercial sponsorship (i.e., demos equipped by All-Clad). There was smorrebrod (open-faced sandwiches) for lunch and Coffee Collective coffee to help the jet-lagged, or the hungover (one assumes that’s also what prompted David Chang to board the morning shuttle boat with a tallboy of Carlsberg and Johnny Iuzzini to pass around a bottle of bourbon before entering the tent).
This year’s theme for MAD (which means “food” in Danish) was “appetite,” and speakers included food suppliers, academics and chefs such as Dan Barber, Chang, Leif Sorenson and Ferran Adria. (You know it’s MAD2 when you spot Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, Ludovic Lefebvre, Wylie Dufresne and Bertrand Grebaut on the same night at Christian Puglisi’s Relae restaurant in Norrebro.)
The conference accommodated 550 people, up from 300 last year, says Noma director Peter Kreiner. Redzepi announced next year’s MAD conference will be curated by Chang and the producers of his quarterly magazine Lucky Peach, to be held Aug. 25 to 26, 2013, with the theme of “guts.”
Among the 20 talks at MAD2, more than a handful especially stood out. Some quick-and-dirty highlights follow: