Noma chef shows some solidarity for Somali peer

Rene Redzepi launches fundraiser for Mogadishu restaurant owner

René Redzepi, the co-owner and head chef of Noma in Copenhagen, has started a fundraiser to help a fellow restaurant owner, Ahmed Jama, to rebuild his Somali-based establishment following a recent attack by Islamist militants.


"He's a cook who has a bigger mission than any of us," Redzepi told the Guardian. "We all cook for ourselves but he has a bigger agenda. We're from Scandinavia where our struggles are not worth mentioning compared to the things he has to deal with."


Jama also owns a Somali restaurant in west London and, after having read about Jama last year, Redzepi invited the fellow food enthusiast to speak at Noma's MAD Symposium, an annual food festival in Copenhagen that took place in late August.


"In 2008, I decided to open a restaurant in Mogadishu, and my fellow Somalis in London thought I was crazy: 'how could I open a restaurant in a dangerous area like Mogadishu?'," Jama said in his address at the MAD Symposium. "But when I opened the restaurant, I made an opportunity for employing many young people and they were very happy, and have attracted many people to come and eat at my restaurant." 


Just two weeks after the food festival, Jama's restaurant in Mogadishu, the Village, was attacked for a third time by al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group with ties to al-Qaida.


"It's close to my heart. I totally get him and his dedication to the table. What he fights for is not Michelin stars or being on some list, but a totally different level of dedication," Redzepi said. "It's mind boggling that he hasn't quit after being bombed so many times. Most people in that situation would have." 


Redzepi's fundraising efforts have led to donations coming in from all over the world, and the total raised now stands at 12,000 euros after just four days.