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Famed Danish restaurant Noma has promoted one of its dishwashers to business partner.
In February, Noma co-founder Rene Redzepi announced three new partners – service director Lau Richter, manager James Spreadbury, and dishwasher Ali Sonko – on the restaurant’s last day of operations at its current location in Christianshavn [KRIS-chuh n shuh-vin]. The three new partners will collectively receive 10% ownership of the restaurant’s holding company. As the company is worth about $20 million with a nearly limitless potential growth, a prosperous future is guaranteed for the new partners.
Sonko has worked as a dishwasher in Noma since Redzepi founded it in 2003. Although the immigrant from the West African country of Gambia did not have aspirations for career advancement, his personality and dedication to the job have earned him the respect usually given to a head chef. Because of his character, Redzepi refers to him as the restaurant’s “heart and soul.” Once Noma reopens in its new location in Christiana, Copenhagen /ˌkoʊ pənˈheɪ gən / in December this year, Sonko is expected to utilize his celebrity status in interacting with guests.
In 2010, Noma earned recognition as the “Best Restaurant in the World” for the first time. However, Sonko was unable to attend the ceremony in London because he could not secure a visa. The Noma staff all decided to wear shirts that featured Sonko’s face as a sign of solidarity.
Sonko shared that he has always held Noma in high esteem. He expressed his delight in working at the restaurant, as well as his appreciation for his colleagues.