The culinary world was shocked last week to hear of chef René Redzepi’s plans to close his legendary, Michelin-starred restaurant, Noma and turn it into an urban farm. The Nordic restaurant that has been voted several times by different outlets as the best restaurant in the world (and came in at number three on The Daily Meal’s 2014 list of the best restaurants in Europe), will cease to exist in its current form on New Year’s Eve 2016.
Now that we know the “what” and the “when,” chef Redzepi recently revealed the “why” in a telling op-ed in this month’s issue of Lucky Peach.
“I’d like to share the plan we’ve secretly been working on for the past three years: We are moving to a place where we can grow our own produce, rethink every part of what we do, and create the best possible workplace for our team,” he wrote.
Redzepi then proceeds to list the struggles Noma has had: although he and his team vowed to only cook with local, seasonal ingredients, the harsh climate and uncertain meaning of local (just the Nordic region? Could the team venture into Greenland for culinary inspiration?), made them “pretty confused about just about everything.”
Redzepi explained that the next iteration of Noma, which will open in 2017 in an unnamed new city with a limited menu, will be strictly tethered to three seasons. During the winter, when nothing grows, Noma will be devoted to seafood. During the spring and summer, the restaurant will reflect nature’s bounty by becoming a vegetarian eatery “nestled inside our urban farm.” Finally, autumn will be the “season of the forest,” with a focus on mushrooms, nuts, berries, and wild game.
“Because we are moving to an incredible new space as we continue to build our community and figure out what it means to be a cook in this region,” he explains in the Lucky Peach op-ed. “To keep exploring food and flavor, in a new place where we can dream. A place where we can build a farm right in the city. Where we can grow our own food, a place where we can keep pushing.”