Since 2007, Peter Kreiner has been CEO of the legendary two-Michelin-star restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. Opened in 2003 by innovative chef René Redzepi, the restaurant is renowned for its unique interpretation of Nordic cuisine. Noma has been ranked by Restaurant magazine as the #1 restaurant in the world four times in the past decade. It has also been ranked in the top five restaurants in the world three times during the same period.
What’s the key to Noma’s success? The inventive, playful dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients, certainly. But just as important is the warm, welcoming environment that Kreiner, Redzepi and team have created for their guests. In this conversation, NEXT Magazine learns more about Peter Kreiner’s approach to hiring staff and how choosing the right people has contributed to the landmark restaurant’s stellar success.
NEXT Magazine (NM): How much of Noma’s success do you attribute to your staff?
Peter Kreiner (PK): For me, the team and everything that we do at the restaurant plays a vast role in the success we’ve had. Of course, the main thing is the fact that René came up with the approach of using the Nordic terroir as the guiding star for all the ingredients and everything he puts together on the plate. That has obviously created a strong narrative. But if we were not able to actually deliver something from a service perspective that lived up to people’s highest expectations then I don’t think it would matter if it was a traditional cuisine or something new. Our team and human effort are the main reasons we have achieved what we have.
NM: When hiring new employees, what kind of person do you look for?
PK: The ideal candidate is a person who is very curious, willing to learn, and who likes people. I believe that the personality, the drive, the willingness to learn and adapt to new things—these are the most important things to us. We have traveled around the world with our staff, we have put them in new situations, and we have pushed people far beyond their comfort zones. But I think the ability to adjust and to come to us, not just with confidence and the belief that they can add to the team, but with the humbleness and willingness to learn, because we have our way of doing things.
Of course they need to have skills, but I truly believe that it’s easier to learn job skills than it is to change your personality. And that goes for all positions, the people I have on the business side, the operations as well as the chefs and front of house. All of them.