Maybe you’re already convinced on the question of standard-issue egomania of celebrity chefs, but anyway let me feed you some real quotes from Esquire about a chef-guy putting some bread on coals:
Mallmann sears tomatoes on the hot metal and throws puffy bread directly into the coals so that it blackens. “Quite radical,” he says. “I mean, we’re fucking burning it.”
And later, after tearing up the burnt bread and adding some wet stuff:
“This is very important,” he says. “This mess. Look at this—it’s such a beautiful scene, no?”
This man might be the industry’s grotesque caricature, all its self-importance and goofy virility rolled into one package, but he is not all that it has to offer. For proof of that, and to get the bitterness of bourbon-soaked pontification out of your mouth, I recommend sampling whatever Rene Redzepi is trying to convince you to eat. The Copenhagen-based chef has—or at least gives an astoundingly convincing impression of having—a sincere and almost toddler-like curiosity about the natural world and its humblest edible creatures. His food tends to emphasize the foraged and stepped-over. And also very much like a toddler, Redzepi delights in some awesomely repugnant shit. Watch these buddies jiggle.
Redzepi’s feed is among the best things I consume on a daily basis, and, like most of those things, it dislodges me from the numbing white noise of Online and acquaints me with the jarringly real and alien things with which we share this weird planet. If I am going to be scanning Twitter I would much rather revel in the hideous underwater creatures we can eat than the ones that intend to eat us.
Sometimes I feel like the conceit of Redzepi’s feed is: “All of this is horrifying, but I am talented enough to make it taste good.” Sometimes I feel like its genius lies in pushing food as far as possible towards visceral disgust while still making me badly want to eat it.
Her, for example, are the psychedelic insides of a lumpfish, splayed out on Redzepi’s hand, looking more like something you would power-wash off a Slime Time Live contestant than order at one of the world’s best restaurants:
Here is an oyster and I apologize in advance. But, if you can, listen attentively as this prize loogie steak slithers from shell into palm:
Palate cleanser: sip some fungus water out of hay.
Okay back to the unconscionably large shellfish. Redzepi assures us that this is a mussel. It is a mussel. It is absolutely not something you might have cut out of you and sold on the black market. “SOOO sweet,” he adds, convincingly.
This is just a recent smattering of Redzepi’s posts; I won’t spoil anymore for you, should you want to go back and binge, or find the personal serving size that works for you. In all likelihood I will never taste the food this man cooks, because he cooks it far away and it is very expensive. But I will keep looking at the things he puts on Instagram, because there are few livelihoods cooler and more enviable than getting paid to be curious about the world and, say, what its most slept-on invertebrates might taste like. To read Rene Redzepi’s feed, and even gag at its occasional Lovecraftian horrors, is to get a briny whiff of what it’d be like to live that kind of searching, unflinching life.