By Brette Warshaw
Mad is the word for “food” in Danish. It’s also the name of a two-day conference held every August, a Monday night meetup and a website for chefs and other cooking professionals. Founded by Noma chef, René Redzepi and his crew from the restaurant and its Nordic Food Lab, the conference focuses on a specific theme each year. Past themes have included Vegetation, Appetite, and Guts. This year, for MAD4, the theme was What is Cooking? During the two-day conference, top culinary talent from up and down the food chain—from scientists to artists to MoMA curator of architecture and design Paola Antonelli—took to the stage to discuss what’s cooking now in the world of food—and ideas.
Every year the MAD symposium takes place under a circus tent in Copenhagen. Can’t make it? MAD also has a website called the MADfeed that publishes original content from top writers and cooks around the world and posts transcripts from the events it holds.
MAD falls under the umbrella of the Noma restaurant operation. Each year MAD invites a guest collaborator from another country to help shape and curate the conference theme and list of speakers . This year the honor went to Brazilian chef Alex Atala of the São Paulo restaurant D.O.M. (seventh on this year’s World’s Best Restaurant list).
The conference takes place in August (2015 dates to be published shortly). In the meantime, look for the mini events known as MAD Mondays. One speaker. One subject. On one specific weekday. Usually, MAD Mondays take place in Copenhagen, but this past March, New York City played host. No matter where they’re held, these events are always free to attend—though getting a seat can be tough; tickets for the most recent event were gone in less than five minutes.
Check out madfood.co for videos and transcripts (all talks from the conferences and panels are recorded). The website also publishes wonderful essays. Our favorite series? “My First Day in a Professional Kitchen,” articles by famous chefs writing about their first days on the job.
—Brette Warshaw is the managing editor of Lucky Peach, a quarterly journal about food and writing.