Noma dishwasher becomes part-owner of 'world's best restaurant'

Image copyright Instagram - reneredzepinoma Image caption Ali Sonko, far right, along with restaurant managers James Spreadbury and Lau Richter, are now partners in Noma, Copenhagen

A kitchen porter has been made a co-owner of the four-time winner of the world's best restaurant.

Ali Sonko, 62, is now a partner at Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant where he has been working since it opened.

Mr Sonko, from the Gambia, was unveiled as one of three new partners, alongside two of its managers.

The two-Michelin starred restaurant closed its doors after 14 years at the current location, and will reopen in December as an "urban farm".

"Ali is the heart and soul of Noma," chef Rene Redzepi explained to friends gathered to celebrate the restaurant at the weekend, according to Danish newspaper Berlingske.

"I don't think people appreciate what it means to have a person like Ali in the house. He is all smiles, no matter how his 12 children fare.

"And, by the way, my own father was also named Ali, and he too worked as a dishwasher when he came to Denmark."

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Noma chef Rene Redzepi said Mr Sonko is the 'heart and soul' of the restaurant

Posting a picture of Mr Sonko and fellow new co-owners restaurant managers Lau Richter and James Spreadbury to Instagram, Mr Redzepi added: "This is only the beginning, as we plan to surprise several more of our staff with a piece of the walls that they have chosen to work so hard within."

  • Is there such a thing as 'the world's best chef'?
  • Eating Christmas trees at the 'world's best restaurant'

Mr Sonko, who has lived in Denmark for 34 years, first rose to prominence in 2010, when he was unable, due to visa issues, to go to London with the team to pick up their first Best Restaurant in the World award.

But the team did not forget him: instead, they all wore T-shirts with the dishwasher's face on it and two years later - the visa issues sorted out - Mr Sonko gave the acceptance speech as Noma was once again named the World's Best Restuarant.

At the time, Mr Sonko, a farmer in the Gambia before his arrival in Copenhagen, described it as the "best job" he had ever had to Danish website BT.

"I cannot describe how happy I am to work here," he said. "These are the best people to work with, and I'm good friends with everyone. They exhibit enormous respect for me, and no matter what I say or ask about, they are there for me. And that's enough for me to say that it's the best job I've ever had."

Noma, which made its name with its locally sourced, Nordic food, has been named Best Restaurant in the World in the San Pellegrino World's 50 Best a further three times.

BBC

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

 
Zanobya Magazine