Meet the Irish chef foraging ingredients for Noma's new menu

My kitchen rules: Cúán Greene, Copenhagen, Denmark

Cúán Green in the kitchen at Noma, Copenhagen

Cúán Green in the kitchen at Noma, Copenhagen

 

As part of Food Month at The Irish Times, Irish chefs working abroad tell us about their jobs. Cúán Greene is a chef de partie at Noma in Copenhagen, a two-Michelin star restaurant run by René Redzepi and considered among the best in the world. Noma closed earlier this year, but is reopening a new restaurant at the heart of an urban farm in Copenhagen's Christiania district in February 2018.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at irishtimes.com/food
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at irishtimes.com/food

What took you to Denmark?
I came to Copenhagen to discover Nordic cuisine, to better my understanding of preservation and fermentation.

What has been your career path leading to your current job?
I was classically trained in Dublin originally. But I have worked in France, Spain and the United States. I have been in Denmark for two years.

Kitchen supplies at Noma
Kitchen supplies at Noma

What type of restaurant do you work at?
Noma is a restaurant that focuses on Nordic cuisine. We use Scandinavian produce to create dishes, with strong emphasis put on fermentation and preservation.

Does the restaurant have a signature dish?
The menu changes regularly with the seasons. Last year our petit four was white chocolate sprayed reindeer moss which we fried and seasoned with fresh pine salt.

What does your daily work routine involve?
At the moment we are in development stage as we are opening the new restaurant in February. In the mornings, we forage for produce and ingredients while there is good light. In the afternoon, we prepare these findings. This week we have been primarily sourcing blackcurrant shoots and rhubarb root, which we will make oil with. Everything is in preparation for Noma 2.0.

Cúán Greene working on dried Mirabelle plums in the kitchen at Noma
Cúán Greene working on dried Mirabelle plums in the kitchen at Noma

How does working in your current job differ from your previous experiences?
My previous experiences certainly help with my current job, but working in Noma is different from anywhere else, in my opinion. The rhythm and pace takes everyone a bit of a while to get used to.

Do you work with any very unusual ingredients?
Our research team are on a constant hunt for new and interesting ingredients. René [Redzepi] also welcomes us to bring in anything we feel can contribute to the restaurant.

Is eating out expensive in Copenhagen relative to the cost of living there, and to prices in Ireland?
Denmark is not cheap. It makes eating out in Ireland seem a lot cheaper. I spend far too much money on eating out, but if the meal is good (which it often can be in Copenhagen) it doesn’t feel like money wasted.

Dried cucumbers at Noma
Dried cucumbers at Noma

Where do you like to eat in Copenhagen when you’re not working?
My favourite place to eat out at the moment is Barr. It’s situated in the old Noma so that brings back good memories, but the food is really good, not too fussy, the dining room is beautiful and the staff are great.

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