Ali Sonko
Ali Sonko, during an interview after being made a partner of the Danish restaurant, Noma Instagram/reneredzepinoma

A dishwasher has been made a partner at one of the world's most exclusive restaurants. Ali Sonko, 62, is now a co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen.

Gambian Sonko has been working at the two Michelin-starred restaurant, which has been named the "world's best" on four occasions, since it opened 14 years ago.

Head chef René Redzepi said: "Ali is the heart and soul of Noma. I don't think people appreciate what it means to have a person like Ali in the house. He is all smiles, no matter how his 12 children fare.

"And, by the way, my own father was also named Ali, and he too worked as a dishwasher when he came to Denmark."

Sonko has lived in Denmark for 34 years. He made the headlines in 2010 when visa issues prevented him from travelling to London with the rest of the Noma team to collect the Best Restaurant in the World award.

Two years later Noma again won the prize and Sonko travelled with his colleagues to collect it – he even gave the acceptance speech on the night. It was the fourth time Noma had earned the coveted title.

Sonko, who had been a farmer in the Gambia before moving to Denmark, said: "I cannot describe how happy I am to work here. These are the best people to work with, and I'm good friends with everyone.

"They exhibit enormous respect for me, and no matter what I say or ask about, they are there for me. And that's enough for me to say that it's the best job I've ever had," the BBC reported.

Two other members of Noma's staff were made partners along with Sonko: Danish Lau Richter and Australian James Spreadbury, both managers at the experimental restaurant whose dessert menu includes moss cooked in white chocolate.

Ali Sonko
The new partners of Noma, from left: Lau Richter, James Spreadbury and Ali Sonko Instagram/reneredzepinoma

Redzepi said: "This is only the beginning, as we plan to surprise several more of our staff with a piece of the walls that they have chosen to work so hard within."

Noma is shutting its doors temporarily before reopening as an "urban farm" in December.

Rene Redzepi
Chef Rene Redzepi, co-owner of Noma restaurant, September 2016 Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/AFP