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A Dishwasher Just Became Co-Owner at Copenhagen’s Famed Restaurant Noma

Noma dishwasher becomes co-owner of restaurantNoma dishwasher becomes co-owner of restaurant
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

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.”