René Redzepi made his name by being hyperlocal in his ingredient selection at Noma, in Copenhagen, but the chef has also developed a style of cooking with global implications. His hallmark: depth of exploration, no matter where he goes. It’s what has made his two Noma pop-ups—Tokyo in 2015 and Sydney in 2016—both massive successes. It’s also what’s going to make him, and his team, the world’s best foodie tour guides. In May, Redzepi will partner with the Four Seasons Jet program to put together a $135,000-per-head, 19-day feeding frenzy, beginning in Seoul, ending in Paris, and stopping in what Redzepi calls seven more “food capitals” in between. We caught up with Redzepi to discuss flying private, the art of itinerary making, and where in the world he most wants to eat.
How did the partnership between you and the Four Seasons come about?
A lot of our guests are very curious about where we’ve been. Because we spent three months in Japan with the restaurant and I had traveled there for 11 weeks preparing, they ask where they should go in Japan. Because we’re just back from Australia, people are now asking for recommendations there. We’ve become a little bit of a travel agency. My partner, Marc Blazer, knew some people at Four Seasons, and so we started a conversation about combining our knowledge with travel.
Did you draw on the internationality of your staff at Noma to determine stops on the trip?
I’ve never been to India before, so when we decided on that, the first person we called was Garima Arora, who after two years with us now works with [chef ] Gaggan Anand. She’s from Mumbai, and she knows all the best people there. We’re organizing with trusted sources. It’s not like we’re Googling for reservations and experiences.
Do you have much experience flying private?
Are you kidding me? No! I tried it once. I made a deal with a private airline to fly me and my father to Albania, where he’s from, to celebrate the country’s independence. He was very sick with cancer at the time and couldn’t go any other way. We met the president. It was one of the best days of his life. And then he got better. But the plane was a four-seater. It wasn’t like being on board with Beyoncé. How big is this jet?
It’s a 757 that’s outfitted for around 50 people.
Incredible. I’d like to travel with the group on the plane as much as possible.
The trip visits nine cities. Which ones are you most excited about?
I know Tokyo quite well, but you can never see it all. I’m very happy to return. I’m excited for Thailand. I haven’t been to Florence since I was 18, and it’s always been one of my favorites. We have some special things planned there, with Fulvio Pierangelini coming out of retirement for one night. He’s maybe the greatest of a great generation of Italian chefs, but nobody knows about him because he hated press and sometimes people too. But he’ll be there. He visits Copenhagen quite a bit. He likes the melancholy of Scandinavians.
Is this trip also a way of scouting for the next Noma pop-up?
We already have a destination in mind; it should be worked out soon. But the timing for this trip is perfect. Noma closes in February; it’s the last breath for the restaurant as you know it, and we’ll reopen it in its new form in September 2017. So we’ll have the time to be dedicated to this journey and use all our skills to plan it right. We want people to have the best experience of their lives. But I can’t imagine ever doing something like this while the restaurant is also running. That seems impossible. The chances of this being a one-off are really big. If it works, though, I’m sure you’ll start seeing a lot of other chefs and restaurants trying to do the same thing.
Four Seasons’ three-week, nine-city Culinary Discoveries tour takes place May 27 to June 14, 2017. The stops are Seoul; Tokyo; Hong Kong; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Mumbai; Florence; Lisbon; Copenhagen; and Paris. From $135,000 per person; privatejet.fourseasons.com.