All it took was a direct message via Instagram to land local chef Andrew Bent a coveted position in one the most talked-about kitchens in the world right now, Noma Mexico. That fateful message was sent by Bent to the man himself, Noma founder René Redzepi who is more than halfway through his much-heralded pop-up in the coastal city of Tulum, which runs until May 28.
Bent, who spent a few months cooking at Berkeley’s legendary Chez Panisse, has worked locally at Tender Greens, Tiger!Tiger, Carnitas’ Snack Shack, and Puesto. During a moment of downtime in the sweltering tropical heat, Bent took the time to send Eater a dispatch from the Noma kitchen where he says Redzepi is highlighting the best ingredients of Mexico “in a place of discipline, precision, detail, speed and finesse. There is no room for complacency. There is not a single second of the day that is not filled with purpose. To say that they push you to your limits each day is an understatement. This is why they are the best. They are not resting on their trophies.”
Among the local food biz folk who took in the Noma pop-up, where dinners span two and half hours and go for approximately $1,500 for two people, were Chef’s Roll’s Frans van der Lee, Carnitas’ Snack Shack’s Hanis Cavin, a team from Cutwater Spirits and CH Projects’ Phil Esteban. On top of his Noma duties, Bent assisted at Esteban’s collaborative dinner with James Beard Award semifinalist Jesse Houston at Tulum’s Zamas Hotel.
For Bent, who says he sweated through his apron every day and couldn’t be happier for it, the Noma stint is another stop on a tour that has taken him through various states of Mexico as he researches for an upcoming taco-driven concept that will be first launched in San Diego with a team that includes industry vet Frank Vizcarra.