Employee Ali Sonko poses in the kitchen of Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, 28 February 2017. Ali Sonko from Gambia, who has been working as a dishwasher at Noma for 14 years, was made a partner of the restaurant, head chef Rene Redzepi announced on 25 February 2017. The two Michelin star restaurant closed on 24 February and will reopen with a different concept at a new location by the end of 2017.
Asger Ladefoged—EPA
By Mahita Gajanan
March 5, 2017

Ali Sonko, an immigrant dishwasher from the Gambia living in Denmark, has shot to fame after being named a partner at Noma, one of the world’s top-ranked restaurants.

Sonko, who has worked as a dishwasher at Noma for more than a decade, was named as a partner along with two others at the Copenhagen restaurant by chef and co-founder Rene Redzepi last week. The men collectively received 10% of the holding company that handles Noma’s business, the Washington Post reported.

Sonko’s promotion was heralded as a symbol of immigrant success during a time when Denmark, along with other countries in Europe, have been seen as unwelcoming toward refugees and immigrants.

Sonko’s story also highlighted how dishwashers at Noma are treated with a respect not afforded to ones in the U.S. Redzepi told the Washington Post that Sonko is “one of the top-paid people in the entire kitchen,” and commands “as much respect as the best head chef or sous chef.”


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