MAD Symposium

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The MAD Symposium is an annual symposium held in Copenhagen, Denmark consisting of presentations from chefs, farmers, academics, thinkers, and artists. The event is hosted by MAD Food Organization, which was founded in 2011 by Danish chef René Redzepi, of the acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant Noma. The two-day symposium takes place inside a circus tent on the grounds of Refshaleøen, along the city's waterfront. The audience for MAD consists predominantly of chefs, aspiring cooks, farmers, journalists, and other foodservice professionals. The event has been described as "a mashup of TED, Burning Man, and SXSW"[1] and "The Food World's G-20".[2]


MAD's mission statement is "to expand knowledge of food to make every meal a better meal; not just at restaurants, but every meal cooked and served. Good cooking and a healthy environment can and should go hand-in-hand, and the quest for a better meal can leave the world a better place than we found it. MAD is committed to producing and sharing this knowledge and to taking promising ideas from theory to practice."[3] In describing the reasons for MAD's existence, Redzepi has said, "The role of the chef is evolving and developing into a position of influence — one that impacts the manner in which people and food professionals consume and connect with food. Such responsibility requires education, an elevation of awareness, and social maturity. MAD recognizes that the modern chef is faced with challenges and responsibilities that go far beyond supplying simple sustenance for the duration of a single meal. Accordingly, the symposium aims to feature speeches from speakers of different disciplines in order to expose numerous perspectives on food and culture. MAD wants those who attend the symposium to return to their kitchens and communities and reflect on what they have seen and heard. There are new questions we now know to ask, so we can become more inquisitive, imaginative, and knowledgable."[4] At the end of the MAD4 Symposium René Redzepi stated that MAD's new mission would be to take all the knowledge it had gained, and start to act. Since then it has begun work on several major projects including publishing, event hosting, and collaboration with major organizations like the World Bank.

Organization structure[edit]

MAD is a not-for-profit grassroots operation. Since starting out with a single employee using a borrowed desk in a tiny office on the fringes of Copenhagen, MAD has grown to comprise a small, full-time team and collaborators spread throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. The team is made up of: Melina Shannon-DiPietro (director), Victor Borberg (project coordinator), Bella Napier (program manager), and Mikkel Westergaard (manager of the VILD MAD program).


The fourth MAD Symposium took place on 24 and 25 August 2014, and co-curated by D.O.M. chef and founder Alex Atala.


The third MAD took place on 25 and 26 August 2013, and was co-curated by Momofuku chef and founder David Chang and the editors of Lucky Peach magazine. The theme of the symposium was "guts."[5][6] MAD3 Speakers:

  • Alex Atala — Chef, Brazil
  • Vandana Shiva — Environmental Activist, India
  • Dario Cecchini — Butcher, Italy
  • Christian Puglisi — Chef, Denmark
  • Margot Henderson — Chef, United Kingdom
  • Sandor Katz — Fermentation Revivalist, USA
  • Jon Reiner — Author, USA
  • Pascal Barbot — Chef, France
  • Diana Kennedy — Author, Mexico/UK
  • Roy Choi — Chef, USA
  • Cynthia Sandberg & David Kinch — Farmer & Chef, USA
  • Heribert Watzke — Food Scientist, Switzerland
  • Martha Payne — Schoolgirl Activist, Scotland
  • Alain Ducasse — Chef, France
  • David Choe — Artist, USA
  • Josh Whiteland — Guide, Australia
  • Barbara Lynch — Chef, USA
  • Knud Romer — Author, Denmark
  • Daniel Klein & Mirra Fine — Activist Filmmakers, United States
  • Ahmed Jama — Chef, Somalia
  • Jonathan Gold — Writer, USA
  • Michael Twitty — Food Historian, USA
  • Jason Box — Glaciologist, USA/Denmark
  • Roland Rittman — Forager, Sweden


The second MAD took place on 1 and 2 July 2012. The theme of the symposium was "appetite."[7] MAD2 Speakers:


The inaugural MAD took place on 27 and 28 August 2011. The theme of the symposium was "vegetation."[8] MAD1 Speakers:

MAD Mondays[edit]

In an effort to stir debate on a local level and include those outside of the restaurant trade in the MAD community, the organization stages MAD Mondays, a series of panel discussions on food culture.

In March 2014, MAD hosted a New York City edition, its first outside of Copenhagen. The talk was titled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Being a Chef,” and took place at the Drawing Center, featuring Peter Meehan as moderator and Mario Batali, Gabrielle Hamilton, Bill Buford, Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr as panelists.[9]


The MADFeed is a new online publication that extends the MAD conversation throughout the year. The platform hosts news and video from MAD events, original articles from the MAD team exploring the past, present, and future of food, and essays and columns from a wide range of voices, including chefs Dan Barber and Margot Henderson, musician James Murphy, and artist Olafur Eliasson.


  1. ^ Kim, Evelyn (2013-08-30). "Only the Mad Are Sane -- Reflections on 3rd Annual MAD Symposium". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  2. ^ Jay, Cheshes (2013-09-20). "The Food World's G-20 -- At the annual MAD Symposium in Copenhagen, international tastemakers convene to eat, drink and be mindful". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  3. ^ "The MAD Feed". Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Food Snob". Archived from the original on 7 August 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  5. ^ Howard, Chua-Eoan (2013-08-29). "No Guts, No Glory". Roads&Kingdoms. Retrieved 24 March 2014.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Eater, Staff (2013-08-27). "Hangover Observations From the 2013 MAD Symposium". Eater. Retrieved 25 March 2014.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "MAD Symposium – Copenhagen". A Magazine. 10 September 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  8. ^ Luciana, Bianchi (2011-07-21). "Rene Redzepi's MAD Food Camp". The World's 50 Best Restaurants. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  9. ^ Hilary, Dixler (2014-03-11). "Top 10 Quotes from MAD Panel on Defining the Chef". Eater. Retrieved 24 March 2014.

External links[edit]