Dishwasher made partner at famous Danish restaurant

The Local Denmark
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Dishwasher made partner at famous Danish restaurant
Ali Sonko plying his trade. Photo: Dennis Lehmann / Dennis Lehmann/Scanpix

A dishwasher from the Gambia has been made a co-owner at Copenhagen’s Noma, one of the world’s best restaurants.


Ali Sonko, 62, has worked as kitchen porter at the gastronomic mecca since shortly after it first opened in 2003. 
He has become a symbol of the restaurant since chef René Redzepi and his staff came on stage wearing t-shirts bearing his face at the London ceremony at which Noma was first crowned the world’s best  restaurant in 2010. 
Sonko had been prevented by visa problems from attending. When the restaurant won the award from Restaurant Magazine in 2012, Sonko had managed to arrange a visa and came on stage to give the acceptance speech.  
Redzepi announced his decision to make Sonko a partner at a party on Saturday night to mark the restaurant’s last day at its site on the waterfront in Copenhagen’s Christianshavn neighbourhood.
“Ali is the heart and soul of Noma. I do not think people appreciate what it means to have a person like Ali in the house,” he said. “He is all smiles, no matter how his twelve children are threatened. And, by the way, my own father was also named Ali, and he too worked as a dishwasher when he came to Denmark.” 
Noma hopes to move to new premises designed by Danish celebrity architects Brarke Ingels Group on December 1st. 
Because it will be closed for most of this year, it last week lost the two Michelin stars it has held since 2008. 
As well as Sonko, Lau Richter, the restaurant’s service director, and James Spreadbury, an Australian who has managed the restaurant for the past eight years, were also made partners. 



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